So the Ash cloud has once again this week closed airports in Ireland and Scotland; another big inconvenience for thousands of people I am sure. Certainly the effects of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption this month will be remembered for a long time, not just by the airlines but by all businesses throughout Europe that rely on air travel to visit their remote offices, customers and suppliers.
While I beleive that lots of travel, particularly by air, made by businesses is not always necessary, and that the same can be acheived in a much less time consuming, cheaper and environmentally friendly way; it is impossible to deny the importance of air travel to the day to day operation of most medium to large businesses.
In fact I myself was on a 4 day business trip to Istanbul when my flight home was cancelled. With no sign of the ban lifting and important business to attend to I was initially desperate to get back home. Now don't get me wrong under normal circumstances I would have loved the opportunity for an extended stay in the beautiful city of Istanbul, but when somebody tells you that you cant go home, that is the first thing you want to do!
After a few hours looking at my (limited) options, I decided that as exciting as the 3 day drive through Europe was, it probably wasn't going to be the best use of my time, so I decided I was going to work from the Hotel until this was sorted. I had an internet connection and a telephone, what more did I need?
It actually turned out to be 3 days of relatively stress free work and I acheived exactly the same as I would if I had been working from the office in the UK. E-Mails were written and responded too as normal, internal meetings were replaced with conference calls and any external teleconferences I had booked could still take place; I justed dialed the Turkish access number instead of the normal UK number, nobody was any the wiser.
It seemed I wasn't the only one to utilise these services during the 6 days of airspace closer; Meetupcall saw a huge surge in both new sign ups to our PAYG conference call service and the amount of conference call minutes used by our existing customers.
Thanks to the advancements in technology it really is possible for businesses equipped with the correct tools to continue to work in situations such as this. With an internet connection a phone and a good teleconferencing service I could be equally as productive from anywhere in the world. For an organisation prepared with these tools, rail strikes, cabin crew strikes and massive volcano eruptions don't have to be anything other than a slight irritation.