After a year of video calls, being trapped in a home office, walking circles around the same neighborhood and just trudging through daily life, we were ready to hit the road. What we found though was, things are different. Let’s have a look at some of our observations after getting back on the road and attempting to do some in person business.
- Flying kind of sucks. Frequent flying was never something we loved but, it was something we accepted, we learned to tolerate and eventually, we excelled at. We had our routines, knew where to park, which security entrance was fastest, which lounge had the best food regardless of where we were in the world. That has all changed. You are masked up from the time you walk into the airport until the time you leave your destination airport (minus eating). Lounges, if they are open, are offering prepackaged food and in many spots, they are still just not open. Security lines are unpredictable. There is a public shortage of TSA officers in the States and with spring and summer leisure travel picking up, the airports are kind of a mess. While these are all minor issues and not worthy of real complaints, it does validate our point that things are different. Just do not jump back into your routine and expect the same as it was in 2019.
- Often, you cannot even meet at your customer’s place of business. You have people ready and willing to see you which is fantastic. Your best client whom you have not seen in 16 months wants to get together and talk shop. But here’s the rub: you are not allowed in his building per his company policy. What does this mean for you? Prepare for a plethora of breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings. We recently took a trip to the Northeast US and we had ZERO meetings outside of meals. Not allowed in a single building and when we tried to at least have some internal short meetings in lobbies or coffee shops, often we were asked to leave as it was not allowed. So, bring your briefcase and bring your appetite.
- People have been through some tough times. If you have made it through the past year or so unscathed, more power to you but, do not expect that from everyone. Lives have been changed forever. Loved ones sick or gone, businesses on the brink of disaster, relationships severed. It has been a very tough year. Consider this when you head back out there. We recently visited a customer where the virus decimated a large portion of their staff. It’s great to get back out there and with enthusiasm but, have some compassion for what others have been through.
- Every US state is different and borders are still closed. Coming from the Southeast US, we have been relatively open for the better part of a year. Mask mandates loosely enforced, restaurants and gyms open and people out and about. This is not the norm for other parts of the US. Some places have had dining shut down for months. Others still have mask mandates even outdoors. Beyond that, it is still very difficult to travel to many international locations without a myriad of quarantine and test protocols. Be aware of your surroundings and be sure to do your best to recognize their way of doing things. It’s your right to do a lot of things and it’s also you’re right to be a prick. Just pick the right hill to die on particularly when it comes to business.
- Patience is required. As we alluded to above, some people are just getting back to daily life. Whether it is your waiter at lunch, the agent at the airline desk or even your client. Face to face interaction has been at a minimum for many over an extended period of time. Businesses are short staffed and people are trying to get back to normal. Have some patience. Be thankful for the opportunity to get back out there and make a solid attempt at getting back to normal. It’s important. But, we cannot just erase the past year and there are real and valid consequences.
- Try and enjoy it. So many of us took (and still take) much of our lives for granted. The ability to share a meal with someone. The ability to see a stranger smile that you pass by in a restaurant. The action of shaking the hand of a customer who has helped you achieve so much. As you head back to some idea of normalcy, take a deep breath and feel grateful and do your best to not take it for granted. Enjoy the ride because as we all found out, sometimes it ends abruptly and it’s not the same when you get back on.