Oct 27, 1997

I am not proud of my five airline frequent flyer program gold cards. All that means is that I spend too darn much time in the air, when I’d much rather be someplace else. But the fact is, it’s necessary for me (and a number of my associates here) to travel. Like many of the subscribers to The Zweig Letter, ours is not a local business. We work nationally (and sometimes internationally) and that requires our people to go where the clients are. If your firm has people who are regularly on the road, it’s important for you to pay attention to the following: Give your road warriors remote access to your computer network. When you are gone a lot, the last thing you want to do is come back to the office for one day and find out you have 159 e-mail messages that came in over the last three days. Let the road warriors pick up these messages and deal with them before they get home. Give them notebook computers with remote access. In addition to e-mail, your road warriors can review proposals, invoices, correspondence, and reports that they would normally take a look at if they were in the office. Using this technology also comes in real handy for saving money on incoming faxes that hotels often charge a dollar or more per page for! Get voicemail. This allows your travelers to check in 24 hours a day to pick up their messages and return the calls that they can before getting back to the office. Once again, it’s critical to be able to do whatever you can when you are traveling so it’s not all waiting for you when you return. But believe it or not, some A/E/P and environmental consulting firms still don’t have voicemail!! Get 800 numbers for every office. This makes it simple to call in when you’re on the road. You don’t need a calling card, you don’t need a pocket full of change— just dial an 800 number from any phone. Allow travelers to use their calling card for personal calls when on the road. Let’s face it— a hundred bucks worth of unbillable calls won’t kill the company, and it’s a small price to pay compared with the price paid by the employee and their families when they are gone from home as much as 20 days out of every month! Make sure to keep those who are traveling plugged in on what’s going on back home. Don’t forget to include your travelers on critical company memos, or inform them of what happened at a company-wide meeting that they couldn’t be at. This is critical if you want to keep these travelers feeling like they are still a part of the organization. Do whatever you can to support the traveler. Don’t act as if their request for a new extended life portable phone battery is unreasonable if they have to use that phone everyday— just get it for them. Ditto for other small requests that help them do their jobs. Be on the lookout for “road burnout.” It’s a fact that people who travel all the time can easily get burned out on the whole thing. If you see this happening, try to give the road warrior a break. Let them stay around the office for a month and get someone else out there. It’ll probably be good for both of them— the new road warrior will have to spread his or her wings and fly, and the veteran road warrior will rest up in anticipation of the next battle. Allow flexible work hours when the traveler is in town. When you are gone all of the time, including many weekends, there’s no time to get your car washed, go to the dry cleaner, or have lunch with your spouse. Be understanding if your traveler needs to do some of these things during the regular 8:00 a.m.-to-5:00 p.m., Monday-through-Friday work week, because unlike those who don’t travel, they may not have any other options. None of these little things will break the bank or kill your company, but they may help keep a revenue-generating, seller-doer-traveler on the road making money for your firm. Originally published 10/27/1997

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