I'm the founder of FutureWork IQ where I spend my time assisting businesses to improve their climate literacy so as to understand the projected impacts from the expanding climate crisis and how to adapt their workplaces in the face of these impacts.

Have you seen the robust LinkedIn discussion on the problems “road warriors” experience because of all the travel they do for work?

Although the discussion is primarily about health and other issues experienced from being constantly on the road, there is another dimension which is not being discussed and that is the harm done to the environment by air travel.

What is the solution to the environmental issue being created by air travel? There are some great pointers in this New York Times piece Flying Is Bad for the Planet. You Can Help Make It Better.

One suggestion is simply to fly less. Could a large number of business flights be avoided?

It is my belief that with well designed digital workplaces the answer to that question would be a resounding yes. Please don’t get me wrong face-to-face interactions will remain extremely important but in my view these should be reserved for high impact, important meetings. We can learn a lot from fully remote teams and the approach they take. They meet virtually most of the time, but then also do get to spend some quality in-person time every quarter.

Regular meetings can quite easily be done on a video platform like Zoom. We use this extensively.

Virtual Training & Workshops

While speaking about Zoom, the platform is also capable of hosting live video conferences complete with breakaway rooms. Conferences are another big contributor to carbon emissions. When you think of everything associated with the venue itself, the car and air travel to get to and from these venues, the emissions produced add up very quickly.

It’s interesting to see some of the trend predictions for conferences. In this piece entitled Virtual Event Market Forecast 2018 – 2023 the team at Market Research Media make this observation:

“The traditional conference and trade show market will gradually move the way of virtual events, and will continue to adopt virtual technology to either replace physical events where attendance is lagging or complement physical events. It is just a matter of time before the virtual events world and the trade show world merge to create the next generation of events – a hybrid of the old and the new.”

Smart companies and event organizers will be looking at ways to leverage technology to reduce travel and physical conference attendance – this is the way of the future.

What do you think? Could we cut down on business travel? Let me know in the comments!