The borders are open, but do we need to leave?

With borders opening up around the world, it’s been interesting to see how quickly the business world has leapt at the chance to head overseas. Planes are filled with people visiting clients, introducing partners and meeting staff for the first time.

And I’m not immune – I’ve just booked a trip to visit our London-based team and see our European clients. The planes were full – I struggled to get a seat. Why are so many keen to get back into business travelling following the pandemic?

It’s not like it is cheap – airfares are the highest they’ve been for decades. Particularly the front of the plane seats typically coveted by the business traveller. Right now, a trip to Europe from Australasia business class costs about the same as a brand new Honda Civic!  

It also can be very unpleasant – I’ve heard some nightmare stories of people stuck at airports for hours, only to have the flight cancelled and a massive cost to rebook. It is a bit of a shambles in many airports worldwide with staff shortages and cumbersome COVID procedures.

But beyond the inconvenience – do we even need to travel nowadays physically? Throughout COVID, Cemplicity and many other companies gained customers, managed accounts, hired new staff, and built company culture without leaving their converted office- come-garage/shed/nursery. So why can’t we carry on in this vein saving money, carbon, time and the inevitable frustration that comes with international travel?

All good reasons to stay put, yet for me, the urge to get back overseas can’t be ignored. We have an entire Cemplicity team in our London office that I have never met in person. In addition, new clients are achieving great success with our platform, which I need to meet in person – or “IRL”, as my teenage kids would say.

It’s not like I have anything particularly important or sage advice I need in part – indeed, nothing I couldn’t do digitally. But I can’t replicate the sense of connection with an individual via zoom/Teams or, god help me, Google Meet. What we used to take for granted – body language, demeanour, and each person’s unique style are not easily interpreted through digital interactions.

These people have put their trust in Cemplicity over the last two years. I need to get a better sense of them – they need to understand me better. It will be fascinating to hear more about how value-based health care (VBHC), particularly the application of PREMs and PROMs, has evolved in Europe. Several VBHC initiatives are in play there, particularly with NHS Wales. There will be some practical lessons about applying VBHC that will interest our client community.

I look forward to sharing such learnings from this trip in my next blog. Until then, I’ll leave you with a quote from a guy who didn’t need to suffer the transfer process at LAX…

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live.” – Hans Christian Andersen