Ed Wilson: The all-day conference call


Ed Wilson: The all-day conference call

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Yesterday I had a conference call that lasted all day long. It was not nearly as bad as it might sound. I was attending a meeting that in the past would have required me to fly to Seattle. From Charlotte, there is one flight a day to Seattle. If you are lucky enough to get this flight, and if you can afford the premium price tag the airline places on the flight, it will take five hours of flying time to get out there. If you catch one of the other flights you will go through Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, or Phoenix with a very real possibility of missing the connection or having your luggage lost. Those flights take anywhere from 8 1/2 hours to 10 1/2 hours depending on connections. But wait that is not all, because you cannot just magically appear at the airport. From my house in South Carolina it takes 45 minutes to get to the airport in Charlotte, and then you need to be there two hours in advance. So even if I caught the five hour flight, and the flight was on time, it would require 7 hours and 45 minutes … not counting the time it takes to get a rental car and drive from SEATAC to Redmond.

All this will presuppose one day to fly out to Seattle. Then you spend the day in the meeting, and if you are lucky you can catch an evening flight out and arrive back in Charlotte around 7:30 AM the following day … jet lagged, and exhausted due to no sleep on a cold uncomfortable plane, and starving to death due to no food. In general, I prefer to spend the night in Seattle and arise at a normal time, and arrive back in Charlotte reasonably rested. Still it takes three days for a one day meeting. This does not take into account the toll on your health. Spending 10 to 18 hours cramped in an air plane causes me to ache … my legs cramp, my back hurts, and my sinus throb at the end of such a flight … not to mention the risk of catching strange and exotic diseases from your fellow travelers. All of which put a cramp in my productivity as well.

I could go on about the risk of getting your laptop stolen, your luggage lost, missing the meeting all together due to missed connections, and canceled flights. What about the food they serve at these kinds of meetings? Generally pizza or cold sandwiches … it was a working meeting after all. Neither of these ubiquitous foods are on my low carb diet. Speaking of diet, when I travel like this, it is generally impossible to get my workout scheduled. So traveling impacts my health as well as my mental well being.

What is the alternative? For my meeting this time, we had set up Live Meeting. I was completely integrated into the meeting. I clicked the invitation, it opened up the PowerPoint slide deck, called my land line, and I was in the meeting. Total commute time … 30 seconds. Yes, but what about the discussion? Dude, we used Office Communicator. I had a designated person who way my question proxy. When we broke up into small groups, Ralph and I chatted. He relayed my questions and my contributions to the meeting to the small group. The added bonus was he had a complete transcript of our conversation. Incidentally, there was a guy from Germany in our virtual meeting, and a lady who at home recovering from surgery. We all shared the same Office communicator session … with a group chat.

Oh for food? While they were munching on pizza, Teresa brought a nice bowl of Gazpacho, and a plate of Ceviche. After the meeting? I commuted another 30 seconds, and got on my tread mill for an hour. This morning, I am not jet lagged, not bloated, not sore, not sick, and am raring to go for an exciting and productive day. Live meeting, where were you 10 years ago! Life is good.

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