After being on the road for the last 6 months, I have learned a few things about travel planning, consulting, and project management for both on-site and remote locations. It’s a tough gig, and can take a toll on you and your family. Sometimes you may not have a choice as to when and why you travel for work, but when you do, here are some helpful tips when planning your next trip.
1) Stage of the client relationship – In the early stage of a client interaction, physical presence is key. If you have not create an in-person relationship with your client, you don’t really exist. You are a name on a email. If budget cuts come for your client’s company, you are at the top of the budget cut list. Make yourself known. It takes a good month of constant communication to get a decent relationship started.
2) Communicate regularly – This may seem like common sense, but many people just don’t follow through with communication. They may either get wrapped up in what they are doing, or think that they are being aggravating, and don’t want to continually both the client. Both Bad. The more you communicate, the more at ease the client will be that they can depend on you for updates, issues, etc. The more trust they have for you, the more willing they are for you to work remotely when needed.
3) Be Available – Whether at home or on-site, answer the phone. Respond to emails. When you are not in sight, you have to make sure that the client doesn’t think you are out-of-pocket. If you are dependable to be reached, you will most likely not be called or emailed as much, because they know they can reach you when needed.
4) Be thorough – When giving updates via teleconference or email, too much detail is better than not enough. No matter what you are working on, if you over indulge in detail, the client will know that you are being forthcoming, open, and know your stuff. Again, if you do so, you will be called on less, and able to work on your own, and possible remotely, more often.
If you are a consultant or manager, and are able to define your own travel schedule within a project plan, keep these points in mind. You will probably find that the better you are at sticking to them, the more you can work from home. The more you can work from home, the happier the family will be.