One silver lining in the ash cloud

The welcome news this morning that UK airspace is now open again for commercial air travel in and out of the country is undoubtedly a relief to everyone who’s been caught up in the huge chaos over the past week.

While it’s pretty clear that getting back to any kind of normality in air travel is going to take some time, at least those who are currently stranded can look forward to the prospect of getting home now.

My not being able to get to California this week and participate in NewComm Forum 2010 is very small beer compared to the terrible disruption and experiences some people have endured in recent days.

Still, that doesn’t lessen my disappointment in not being able to physically be there. So I’m hoping to be there virtually in some way, probably on Friday, the last day of the event. News on that soon.

Speaking about virtual connections, a feature on risk management in The Economist has a sharp and relevant focus on this point:

[…] Some firms have even found a silver lining in the ash cloud. Many employees stranded in London simply spent the weekend enjoying an unexpected, sunny “volcation”. They are now taking the opportunity to meet people face-to-face whom they normally connect with only virtually, while connecting virtually with colleagues back home whom they normally deal with in person. In short: no big deal. The Economist, for one, seems to be coping just fine with its chief executive and deputy editor stranded in New York, its New York bureau chief working out of the London office and its central Europe correspondent wrestling with Mitteleuropa’s trains and autobahns.

That’s a point of view worth thinking about. All too often when looking at virtual meetings, the focus is on the convenience, money saved on travel, etc.

Valid points of course, but the benefit of a reverse process – meeting virtually with those you usually are with in person, and vice versa – brings a fresh perspective on those inter-personal connections and relationships you build.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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