My company just installed a new videoconferencing system. Because my office only deals with internal customers, my boss thinks we won't need to travel anymore. She wants to make next year's travel budget zero.
I think we will still need to meet face to face some times, so we should keep some money in the budget.
What do you think?
Anxious in Atlanta
Videoconferences are certainly useful in helping people stay connected in a way that is more personal and "real" than with memos, facsimilies, and electronic mail. However, keeping some money in the budget for travel is actually a good idea. There are times when nothing else quite has the same impact as meeting face-to-face. It would be wise to spend the money for face-to-face meetings when you kick-off an important project or when conflict occurs and you are having trouble managing it satisfactorily from a distance.
One other point, Anxious. You stated in your letter that you "only had internal customers." I don't like to see you (or your manager) qualify the relationship as "only". Your service to internal customers is just as vital to the success of the company as their service to the external ones, so your communications are crucial. Treat them as such by utilizing whatever means of communication you need to make the relationships work.