In the Trenches: The Value of Face Time
Working remotely has been great for me and Cranky Concierge. I’m writing this column at my desk at home. As soon as I finish, I can walk into the other room and spend time with my young son. But just because my employees and I work independently, from various locations, doesn’t mean there isn’t value to getting some face time with one another. The key is figuring out how often — and where — to meet.
As I sit here in Long Beach, Calif., my office manager is wrapping up his day across town. Our air-travel architect signed off a while ago from his place in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Meanwhile, concierges from Juneau, Alaska, to Washington, D.C., are fielding requests as our clients travel, 24 hours a day. Having the flexibility to work from anywhere with an internet connection and a power outlet means that I can have people working for me who might not thrive in a traditional office setting. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to ever see them in person.
I used to think that there wasn’t really a need for face-to-face meetings. But last week I had the chance to meet my second longest-serving concierge in person for the first time. We both happened to be in Phoenix, and we spent maybe an hour together. I found it to be a great experience, albeit a brief one. It gave us a chance to talk about various issues — things that we might otherwise skip during regular workdays — and an opportunity to brainstorm ideas to help the company grow. Now I wish we could meet up more often!
Last year, when I hired my first travel architect as the first
full-time employee of the company, I knew I wanted to bring him out from his home in the Dallas area to Southern California for a visit. We worked alongside the office manager at my home, and we got together with a locally based concierge, too. It helped us figure out how to collaborate better and gave us time for a some watercooler-type chat. You don’t often get that in a virtual environment.
Now, a year later, we’re talking about another visit. I want to make sure that there’s good value in it and that we use our time wisely to do things that can’t easily be done over the phone. It also has me considering whether to include other staffers (there are eight of us including independent contractors) in the trip. I’d like to bring everyone together, but the more people I include, the more expensive everything becomes — and it gets harder to justify the cost. At this point, that's not a realistic option.
But I will be bringing my travel architect out, and I want to make sure to get the most bang for the buck. What would you try to cover during a rare, in-person visit? Would you try to include others in the meetings?
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.