Storms. Mechanical issues. Security alerts.
If you’re like many managers, business travel is a part of your professional life. But with the winter months ahead and airlines on high alert, the inevitable flight delays and even cancellations are likely to occur more frequently than usual.
Besides the inconvenience of having to reschedule meetings, this also results in you often having to wait at the airport for a couple of hours—or longer—until the issue is resolved. That means you have a couple of choices as to what to do during the wait. You can head over to the nearest coffee shop and ply yourself with caffeine to stay awake. You can browse a real life or virtual newsstand for some of your favorite magazines. Yet one of the smartest things you can do is put your time to good professional use. After all, the more you can get done while you’re waiting, the less you’ll have to do when you arrive at your destination. Here are some effective strategies for staying productive if your flight’s delayed.
- Get a room. If your delay is going to last longer than seven hours and you need to be alert when you arrive at your destination, consider getting a room at one of the hotels at or near the airport. Having the opportunity to relax, stretch out, and freshen up without having to worry about your belongings can do wonders for your mood and energy levels, which in turn will make you more productive at your destination. Plus, if you don’t feel like resting, you’ll have the opportunity to spend a couple of hours of uninterrupted work.
- Use the airport lounge. If your wait is only a couple of hours, head over to the airport lounge, traditionally the sanctuary of business travelers. Many airports lounges offer the option of purchasing a day pass if you don’t have a (corporate) membership. The beauty of using the lounge is that it offers comfortable seating and quality refreshments in a much quieter environment than any departure hall.
- Make sure to use a secure W-Fi connection. Airports are notorious free-for-all places for hackers, since many phones automatically log onto the first Wi-Fi connection they detect. However, this is a surefire way to get hacked. In his TechRepublic article “Minimizing the threats of public Wi-Fi and avoiding evil twins,” Frank Ohlhorst advises disabling the Wi-Fi adapters in your devices by default. That way, you have to manually turn on your Wi-Fi and log onto a network. Wait until you’re safely in the airport lounge—or, if there’s no lounge, another place with secured Wi-Fi like some coffee shops—and make sure you connect to the Wi-Fi there. In most cases, the staff will be able to give you the password.
- Use online collaboration tools. Dropbox, OneNote, BaseCamp, Skype, and GoToMeeting are all examples of collaboration apps you can use wherever you are. Whether it’s reviewing one of your employee’s reports or having that three o’clock meeting via Skype, you can have all of your files and tools at your fingertips. Just make sure to save your work properly and use a secure Wi-Fi connection.
- Network. Sometimes, delays are a great way to make new connections. Striking up conversations with other business travelers can open up a whole range of options, from new clients to new partners and more. Since many business travelers are on their own and welcome the opportunity to meet new people, sharing a quick coffee or even dining together can be a good way to establish new relationships.
Don’t let delays and cancellations break your professional stride. With these five strategies in mind, you’ll know how to stay productive next time a business trip takes longer than planned.