Opinion by Manish Hathiramani, Technical Analyst, Index Trader and owner of Deen Dayal Investments

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has brought the entire globe to an absolute standstill. With restrictive guidelines grabbing the centre stage, organisations had to quickly adapt and switch to new modes of operating in order to survive. This transformation was empowered by the numerous technological advancements, which have made the far-fetched idea of remote working an easy reality.

After months of lockdown, the wheels of restoration have been set in motion, and nations have embarked on their journey towards the Unlock phase. With the advent of this, the travel sector was the first to welcome customers with open arms. However, let alone leisure, individuals are still slightly apprehensive about the offer even for business purposes, thanks to the virus-induced fear and anxiety.

While technology has done a relatively good job of bridging the communication gap, it won’t be able to completely replicate the influence of in-person interactions, especially when it comes to corporate relations. So, while business travellers may seem a little stressed about resuming their globe-trotting ways, more than half of that percentage is as excited about hitting the road again. Even in the presence of alternative solutions, from industry events to new business deals, India’s business executives believe that technology might not be able to adequately exhibit the wonders of face-to-face solutions. 

Here are a few reasons why:

Meaningful conversations

While communicating via texts or emails, the messages are usually short, crisp and to the point. Pitch and tone are very important while trying to effectively and efficiently present any business idea. Similarly, in terms of teleconferencing, due to various barriers and intrusions, the conversation is not as free-flowing and seamless.

Drives clarity 

While using teleconferencing or other such virtual media, there is a high chance of misinterpretations or gaps in communication. Several times due to poor connection or technical glitches, the information conveyed is not perceived in its true sense, making way for misunderstanding and unnecessary confusion. However, in face-to-face meetings, such details can be discussed at length and all queries and doubts can be done away in that very moment itself.

Free-flowing communications 

Every online meeting works as per a fixed agenda. The exchange of thoughts and ideas happens in a guarded, controlled, and time-bound manner. A large number of individuals find themselves within the grip of self-consciousness while they are speaking in a teleconference, a feeling unknown to them in personal meetings, conferences, and seminars. Being in the presence of an “audience” during a face-to-face conversation or session gives the speaker a better ability to feed off their energy and adapt the conversation accordingly.

It is safe to say that, even though our new reality demands modern solutions, certain elements that are intrinsic to human behaviour will be hard to fully replace. Instead of eliminating the idea of travelling altogether, categorising meetings in terms of priority and complexity and then distributing the trips at spaced out intervals, is a great place to begin. With all this in mind, as we continue to gradually get back to some semblance of our lives pre-pandemic, it’s safe to say that business travel will still be a big part of our “new normal”.