Monday, 31 December 2012
In the not too recent past the International Air Transport Association (IATA) laid out some of its plans to help travel seamlessly and arrive comfortably in the future with one of its programs called StB - Simplifying the Business. As IATA's plans continue to take shape I ask you the same question; What plans do you have as a frequent flier to help you arrive at your future destinations seamlessly comfortably and most importantly healthily?
IATA expects the global airline industry in 2013 to lift itself further away from the red by netting $7.5 billion in full-year profits. Not a bad outlook for an industry that was suffering through high oil prices six years ago and a coming recession. How well have you fared flying during this time? Have you got healthier? Are you wiser and wealthier for having taken all those journeys? Have you increased your bottom line? In a fast paced always on-the-go world it is easy to lose sight of some of the things that really matter like health and well being.
A further reason to ask and answer this question now is that the IATA plan for the future of travel has heavy investment in technology at its core. This is a good thing in some instances and not such a good thing in others. It will use technology as a platform to streamline services, create efficiencies and make travel better from baggage handling to freight to the customer experience (GOOD). Many airlines are in the process of installing Wifi capability on their fleets. IATA is considering Near Field Communication (NFC) services for the always connected, always mobile flier (NOT SO GOOD). Technology's reach is extending in such ways for you the flier that if you don't actively plan how to manage its impact (positive or negative), you will find yourself fitting into IATA's plan whether you like it or not. This major push to embed technology into an efficient and seamless flying experience is happening in ground airport systems and onboard the aircraft. It is championed by IATA and airlines alike.
While technology has been a major driver of global economic prosperity it also has an Achilles' heel. When it works well it's fine, but when it's detrimental to human health it is devastating. As we move forward into 2013, as a frequent flier passing through airports more than most, what are you asking of the airlines and airport authorities who control these environments you spend so much time in?
It matters, it really does matter because as these environments become more alive with gadgetry to make travel better and safer, whether it be a new X- ray scanner or Wifi coverage, our interactions with them before boarding an oxygen deficient metal tube for hours on end is telling on our health. So the question is what are you asking of these operators, and if you are reluctant to do that what are you going to do yourself to make your stay in these environments habitable?
A couple of summers ago after the launch of a passenger charter to raise awareness of the poor standards US fliers endured I wrote an essay with a basic manifesto of what we should be able to expect from frequent flying. Email me if you want a copy. Not much has changed and the stresses of flying continue to mount. It is no longer enough for airlines and authorities to pacify its customers with annual surveys to test the water on these issues. Real thought needs to go into getting the frequent flying community engaged, no one ignores their most frequent customer and expects to do well.
There are many issues at stake and up for discussion moving forward, be it security, well being, facilities, technology and the use of personal data. More importantly and from my limited point of view what you are doing to make sure you arrive well is a priority for me. I hope to open a dialogue with you on this and more in the coming months of 2013 and if you don't like the answers you get when you ask the questions of the aviation industry I hope we can explore new answers together.
Happy New Year
- Christopher Babayode
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
When your flight is cancelled or delayed, there's no better way to de-stress than hitting the spa. Airport spas are becoming more common,whether accessible to the general public or part of a first-class lounge.Treatment options are often tailored to people in transit-chair massages and othe abbreviated treatments for travellers in a hurry, though some airport spas offer full spa menus - so says http://www.Spafinder.co.uk. While airport spas may be great to help you on your way or help you de-stress from a gruelling journey they deflect from the fact that they offer no real answer to jet lag and frequent flier fatigue.
Preflight or post flight pampering, getting the glow how, escaping into a tranquil oasis are great stop gaps but they melt away in the face of the fierceness of frequent flying. If you take the subjects of jet lag and flier fatigue and break them down to their brass tacks it is nothing more than the body's inability to deal with stress. In which case going to a spa is a good thing because spas help you de-stress BUT not all stress is the same. There are 2 types of stress. The chronic and the acute. Acute stress is what you are immediately aware of while chronic stress is what you might call background stress, you might not be aware of it immediately but its long term effects are damaging, sometimes irreparable. While a spa treatment may well help you get over acute symptoms it does not help you deal with the ongoing chronic stress frequent flying exacts week in week out. This is part of the reason my popular refrain is "jet lag needs a new conversation and it needs it now!"
The truth of the matter is most people and quite a few frequent fliers only think of jet lag when they arrive at the airport or when it disrupts their routine. To my thinking this is like an astronaut attempting to take off for Space without realising he's going to need oxygen - he's not really going to be at his best when he gets there. Airport spas can be a nice stop gap but they don't face down the insidious issues around flying like dehydration, the harsh aircraft cabin, cosmic radiation exposure and a lack of oxygen. What is needed are solutions that handle all of these and are not reliant on fliers being in the vicinity of an airport to use them. You see the kept secret of the healthiest frequent fliers is that they see frequent flying as part of their lifestyle and build in lifestyle tools to help them stay healthy on the road and beyond. Spa visits can feature in that but they are not the antidote.
Sustainable, healthy, green, long term solutions are what is needed to fight jet lag and travel fatigue successfully. Are spas healthy? Definitely as is any measure that helps relieve stress. Are they green? I would suggest they are for the most part. Are they sustainable? Not really, only if you can afford to frequent them after every leg of your flight and choose the most comprehensive packages. At best I would say they are a good pick me up or girdle me 'loins for that make or break meeting. Now that I've shattered the illusion that they are the answer to your jet lag woes let me offer you some consolation with a links to lists of some of the best airport spas in airports around the world. Nice indulgence if you can get it!
- Christopher Babayode
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
The report goes on to say 5.8 million more sleeping pill prescriptions were written out for women than in the last 5 years.
A combination of factors are responsible for this, you have the usual suspects like stress, as u we are now beginning to see the acknowledgement of some hitherto ignored factors like Technology and Lighting.
The article goes on to explain that harsh light from the gadgets we use and sleep with (you know who you are!) emit harsh light that prevents the natural rise of melatonin in the bloodstream. Melatonin is a necessary precursor for restful sleep. Lights in rooms can have a similar effect due to the harsh hues of light used in making the bulbs. Choose soft lighting wherever available.
Fliers can help themselves by following some of the recommendations given.
(1) Try winding down a couple of hours before you go to bed - use dimmers on light switches if they have them. Or use candles.
(2) Instead of reaching for your phone for that boredom relieving game of minesweeper try something low tech like a book or writing with pen and paper!
If you absolutely must use tablets and phones before bed try setting the gadget's shortcuts for night reading which gets rid of most of the glare on the screen.
More than anything I'm highlighting this article because of the inclusion of Technology and Lighting in possible causes for sleepless nights. It seems that frequent fliers forget how easily these things can interfere with a good night's sleep when travelling on the road.
- Christopher Babayode
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Drug companies want a slice of the jet lag market.
via Jet Stress http://www.ecademy.com/node.php?id=182119
Sunday, 11 November 2012
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Pre-Globalisation you probably had as much competition, but you were unaware of them and they you. Now you know who you are up against and worse, you now have others who were not natural competitors who now are. Or if you are in the service industry the demands for your services are more frequent and intense than before. The bottom line is it now takes more of your resources to satisfy and keep your enterprise going. Do you have an endless pool of resources? If not it is better to learn the art of being resourceful. The art of being resourceful when it come to global travel and frequent flying is something that tends to be learnt by default if at all. It’s time to take an objective look at the issue and implement a sustainable scientific based approach to the problem. It is time to end the fuzzy headed approach which leads to loss of business, less than favourable impressions or the inability to function at the expected or required level. These travel “faux pas” are leading to million dollar losses in revenue and productivity.
AirPlus International a global corporate payment provider teamed up with Optima-Life, a physiological research company to pilot a study of frequent fliers against a control group of non fliers. AirPlus International employees agreed to wear a sophisticated heart rate monitor which measured heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV). The results showed frequent fliers are less likely to be fully recovered from the exertions of flying with knock on effects relating to health and well being.
The major finding was that stress recovery was less than optimal in the frequent flier group compared to the control group. The control group had a recovery percentage of 26% while the frequent fliers only had a 14% recovery rate. In sleep which is a good monitor for recovery capacity the control group had an average of 7hr and 2mins while the fliers could only manage 6hr 41mins. As sleep debt is cumulative this is important to note. The overall conclusion was that these negative figures impact levels of tolerance, communication skills, engagement, concentration, mental acuity and could be a forerunner of health problems.
While the study goes into more detail I would like to focus on what it highlights about stress, and the attention it brings to what it calls intrinsic and extrinsic factors (for now I’ll only touch on intrinsic factors). It is no secret that we are more stressed than ever before, I would argue that we know we are stressed but we haven’t found ways of dealing with stress that suit our lifestyle as it relates to healthy flying. This is where the rubber hits the road. Mastering this one area will have appreciable benefits in all aspects of our lives.
To date the ineffective strategies employed by business travellers have ranged from sleeping pills to uppers and downers, melatonin, caffeine, alcohol and more. The problem with these items is that they provide temporary relief while borrowing from our reserves and never giving it back. Thus a downward spiral of that ultimate resource, you, is effected over time. In a business it looks a bit different, the workforce is sent out there and they perform but it takes more and more effort until the workers are less motivated and reach corporate burnout. They stop enjoying the mission and purpose of your company and decide to strike out on their own. The outcome could have been different in all instances if forward thinking strategies were employed.
For the farsighted companies who have an idea of the scale of the challenge a robust private health policy is sometimes in place. However all of these policies tend to be palliative rather than pre-emptive. Shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted is not a good strategy to keep your best people performing at their best. Business and individuals need to provide and create an environment to take joint responsibility for getting better results in this area.
The catalogue of disasters costing business and brands dear reaches back with some high profile and stunning examples of what is at stake. In the escalation of events preceding the 1956 Suez Canal crisis Secretary of State Dulles is known to have blamed jet lag for some of the decisions taken in the course of events. More recently Gen. David Patraeus as commander of the International Security Assistance Force operating in the Middle East collapsed while giving testimony to the US Senate Select Committee, blaming dehydration and jet lag. The freed Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi also demonstrated the extremes of how air travel can affect health by collapsing while travelling to Switzerland after release from house arrest.
The AirPlus study draws attention to intrinsic and extrinsic factor fliers should take notice of in order to travel well and arrive well to execute business. The most important of these are the intrinsic environmental factors. Not paying attention to these factors is what led to the strife Gen. Patraeus and Aung San Suu Kyi encountered. These intrinsic factors are the most powerful tools you have to ensure a favourable outcome to your journey. While there may have been no more than a little damage to the Patraeus and Suu Kyi brands it is not always the case for Business.
I champion a quote from the AirPlus study, it says ” First class or business class travel is probably not best used across the board but instead it should be used tactically depending on the purpose of the trip“. The reason to champion this comment is that too many corporate fliers are lulled into the false security that travelling first or business is the sum total of what they can do to ensure they arrive well. Nice but not true, the world has moved on and there are many tools and considerations fliers have to make to fly well.
To date too few fliers or corporations are aware of this new landscape and therefore lose a competitive advantage, to paraphrase a teacher of mine “the competition is more intense than before and the window of opportunity is briefer than before”. Whoever is able to capitalise on this advantage reaps the rewards, for now it looks like most fliers and businesses are still behind the curve.
AirPlus. Traveller Productivity – How to tailor your travel policy to improve traveller productivity.
Suu Kyi visits Swiss parliament – www.swissinfo.ch
Gen. Patraeus collapses at Senate hearing – www.telegraph.co.uk
via Jet Stress http://www.nojetstress.com/jet-lag-free-frequent-flying-is-a-competitive-advantage/
Friday, 31 August 2012
In a previous article I referenced a telling Infographic from PC Housing - Mobile Dependency A Growing Trend In Business Travel. In many respects the Infographic is an identikit of today's business person and frequent flier. In simple terms today's business travellers are always current, kitted out with gadgets and never far from an Internet connection.
On the flip side technology surrounding flying has also grown and changed with the times. Technology led innovation has been responsible for airport information avatars, electronic boarding passes, airport security theatre and the roll out of Wifi in the sky. The positive aspects of these innovations is undeniable. The concern is the effect these innovations have on frequent fliers constantly exposed to some of these measures in the course of flying. Security theatre and Wifi in the sky are of particular interest in this respect.
Information technology innovations continue to move towards the Cloud. As I write more gadgets and apps align themselves with systems which either rely on or make use of wireless technology in some way shape or form. Wireless technology is fast becoming indispensable in all areas of life and thus unavoidable.
The medium wireless technology depends on is the Electromagnetic Frequency and more specifically radio waves. Our creative use of more of the electromagnetic frequency is inversely linked to the decline in autoimmunity in society as a whole say some experts. The electromagnetic frequency is a contributor to the phenomena of Electro-pollution and has spawned the terms Electro-sensitivity and Electro-smog. Recognition and awareness of Electro- sensitivity is growing as evidenced by the Stockholm County Council (SLL) presentation of the 8th of May 2006 titled Electro Hypersensitive People's Right To An Accessible Society. This talk included a segment titled Electro-sanitising Modifications in Houses & Healthcare Facilities.
While there is plenty to celebrate in our creative use of the electromagnetic frequency there is reason for a cautious approach in it's use. Scientists of many disciplines have observed worrying changes in their fields of expertise, attributed to the presence and effects of the use of the electromagnetic frequency. The much maligned Bio-Initiative Report still has elements of truth in it. There are other reports besides this that come to similar conclusions. It must be said that there are many reports funded by special interest groups that say the opposite, the truth is neither argument is conclusive. As a flier you have to ask yourself if you are willing to wait until the argument is settled while exposing yourself to potential risk.
The link between fliers, autoimmunity, stress and the electromagnetic frequency is a theme that crops up repeatedly in the argument for healthy frequent flying. The PC Housing Infographic sheds light on some of the puzzle. Fliers are gadget friendly, they are constantly connected and therefore always having their immune system interact with these radio waves. They fly often which is stressful enough so their immune systems receive more stress. Passing through the airport "security theatre" and the prevailing trend to install Wifi on planes plus the normal environment on planes all add up to more assaults on fliers immunity. As if that is not enough we haven't considered how stressed the traveller may be in relation to the outcome of the trip, getting to the airport or stresses in personal circumstances.
The beauty of this part of the problem is that technology is also the key that unlocks part of the solution. Now that most of the efficiencies to the planes, the hardware of the airline industry have been made, the focus is shifting towards the customer experience side of the equation. However there is a fair way to go before we arrive, let me remind you that we have not too recently banned smoking on planes only to replace it with a 21st century equivalent in Wifi in the sky. We know the effects of smoking in a confined space are bad, Wifi at altitude is no better.
On the bright side (no pun intended) we are seeing cabin lighting designed to simulate natural light. A Scandinavian company recently launched a gadget designed to shine light into the ear to help the body reset it's clock. You can also find wrist watches and bracelets which also claim to have the same effect. In no small way these ideas all spell hope for fliers. Technology really is a game changer for frequent fliers, aggregating every one of these solutions that work can make the difference between healthy flying and a loss of immunity leading to burnout and illness. In business travel this translates to the bottom line and will be covered in a later article.
Stockholm County Council (SLL).
- Christopher Babayode
Saturday, 4 August 2012
WHO ARE THESE FREQUENT FLIERS
For the purposes of our conversation we need to broaden the definition of frequent fliers beyond corporate multinational business executives. The ranks included journalists politicians diplomats pilots cabin crew athletes and showbiz personalities to name a few. What they all have in common is the need to be productive at the highest level in order to complete a task or sets of tasks in hand.
This last distinction is relevant because repetition is the mother of skill and the prospect of flying week in week out with jet lag is so unbearable for some, that they will find the best habits possible in order to minimise the impact jet lag has on their schedule and outcomes.
Globe trotting mileage and experience apart this method of trial and error is less than ideal, and not all choices are sustainable long term. However a few do manage to settle into a grove that is satisfactory and minimises the worst jet lag has to offer in their individual experience. While there are symptoms we all have in common, the individual experience of jet lag can include some variety. For this reason focusing on the commonality of symptoms and the commonality of the flying experience will yield the greatest benefit for all fliers to learn from.
The most important thing you can observe about these well-traveled frequent fliers is that they have a routine and they do their damnedest not to deviate from it. I heard a firsthand story that Lord King used to fly from London to New York on Concorde with nothing but a bottle of water! The element of routine is important on many levels for the frequent flier. It helps the flier maintain a kind disciplined regularity in an environment that is anything but normal. More importantly routine is at the core of one of the most important functions a frequent flier can hope to master, the body-clock. Those who travel well know on a conscious or unconscious level that entrainment, routine and the body-clock go hand in hand. The human bias towards entrainment is a documented scientific fact, lookup the McClintock Effect* for evidence of this.
INTENSITY & ENGAGEMENT
The intensity of travel of global frequent fliers is what makes them such great guinea pigs. Their resilience is tested in the crucible of changing global factors circumstances and situations. Some have fallen by the wayside but others have endured and come out ahead. While resilience is part of the solution it is not the whole story. For all their diversity and the different walks of life frequent fliers come from, one other thing that can be said of them is that they are always engaged. Following an infographic from PC Housing* titled Mobile Dependence: A Growing Trend in Business Travel, my suspicion is that technology plays a role in keeping fliers engaged, as well as being an enabler of people who live a "jet set" lifestyle. This has a good and bad aspect to it. Engagement leads to expectancy of an outcome, with distance and other impromptu obstacles along the way getting to that outcome requires drive. Having this kind of drive on tap is handy when you land in Narita Japan and all you want to do is sleep but it is 9 am and you are set to "perform" shortly.
AN ATHLETES MINDSET
The successful frequent flier is the embodiment of an athlete in many ways and the more fliers can identify themselves with athletes preparations for competition the better. Plotting a routine that takes your rest nutrition and psychology into consideration deserves more than lip service. Those who fail to realise that frequent flying is a "competitive sport" requiring the attributes and the mindset of an athlete will struggle because the current culture around flying is not conducive to support healthy flying. If they want to stay ahead of the field and continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in performance and productivity adopting such a mindset is essential.
The few pointers above are signposts to everyone else struggling with the inconvenience of jet lag. It is for the many who are still waiting for the pharmaceutical industry to invent the cure all magic pill. Those who succeed in making the deal, impressing the prospects, winning the medal or performing to the highest standard are the ones who have managed to compete and minimise jet lag. When they do it time and time again without corporate burnout or fatigue it makes them worthy of learning from.
- Christopher Babayode
Friday, 27 July 2012
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
Apple’s Passbook is knocking the travel industry off it’s feet
Monday, 23 July 2012
Drug companies want a slice of the jet lag market.
The discussion about pharmaceuticals and jet lag would be incomplete without a mention of the sleight-of-hand the drug company Cephalon tried to deal the traveling public in 2009/2010. Cephalon* applied to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the right to prescribe its drug Nuvigil as an off label prescription drug for jet lag. Ultimately the application failed on the basis of insufficient proof. Cephalon had in effect tried to re-categorise jet lag as a disease rather than an inconvenience. Although Cephalon failed in one respect it did succeed in another. It fanned the flames of the argument that jet lag is treatable with pharmaceutical drugs. It is an application and extension of the maxim "better living through chemistry".
Up till now better living through chemistry has applied to a consistent environment (the human body and being at sea level). Frequent fliers with the constantly changing environments of the plane, their biochemistry and a cacophony of hormonal changes face some limitations in this respect.
Aviation Medicine sheds light on the environment.
The practice of Aviation Medicine* at altitude is a testament to the differences and limitations regular drugs can have at altitude. Aviation Medicine acknowledges the efficiency and efficacy of drugs used at altitude may differ due to factors at altitude which are not present on the ground. While human biochemistry does have an element of adaptability to cope with this it is not inexhaustible. This is important to note because tapping this adaptability too often is vitality sapping and stress inducing. This ought to give champions of a drug led approach pause for thought.
How are you defining Jet Lag?
For the sake of brevity the pharmaceutical and scientific communities like to define jet lag purely as a problem of the body-clock and the ability to stay awake or asleep when you want to. This definition has utility but it also shortchanges the discussion. A more precise definition for our purposes is
Jet Lag is a challenge to the body's normal mode of functioning in a compromised environment which upsets the patterns, reference points, energy and equilibrium of our being.
This definition underlines the fact that jet lag is not a singular problem of the body-clock. It acknowledges the body-clock but also acknowledges references which are not specifically to do with or controlled by the body-clock. Looking at jet lag in this manner means if it is not a singular problem there is no need to use a magic pill to find a singular solution.
Side effects and Practicalities.
Besides the scientific and pharmaceutical communities narrow description of what jet lag is and isn't there is the issue of the side-effects of using pharmaceutical drugs in any instance. As with any drug there is the issue of tolerance. How much of any said drug can your body tolerate before it develops its own resistance. Typically, in time a greater dose is needed to get the same effect as when you started taking it.
Another challenge of relying on drugs for your jet lag cure is the impracticality of drugs as a solution. Jet lag is not about how you travel but about how you arrive, after all the journey is incidental to your outcome. As a businessperson you cannot afford to turn up at a meeting drugged and groggy. The frequency of most heavy duty business travellers in today's world means they are on and off planes several times a week. If they were to rely on drugs they would not have enough time to recover before having to take more to counteract the jet lag of the next or previous flights - eventually it would all catch up to them. Simply put a short term fix for a long-term problem is not sustainable and this is what a pharmaceutical approach to jet lag offers.
Finally, in a world where Globalisation* and the Digital Age make the world smaller, when nothing beat being there yourself, presence is what it comes down to. No serious frequent flier would jeopardise his or her presence - that ability to hit the ground running and be fully functional for a pharmaceutical high that won't last the duration.
Healthy alternatives to a pharmaceutical approach do exist but they are fragmented in application because different fliers experience jet lag differently, piecing together the success these fliers have had will ultimately provide answers all fliers can benefit from.
- Regulators reject Cephalon's bid http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/business/30drug.html
- The World Is Flat - Thomas Friedman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:BookSources/0-374-29288-4
- Christopher Babayode
Monday, 16 July 2012
Is it or isn't it green? A simple question you might think. Apples come in green and red varieties but Apple is red-faced now after reversing on its decision to remove itself from the EPEAT green environmental standards for computer products.
The truth is Apple can't seem to make up it's mind whether it wants to be seen as green or not. When you dig a little deeper the truth is not quite straightforward. Apple claims its products actually exceed the EPEAT standard and that the whole of its portfolio is not adequately covered by EPEAT hence the rational for removing itself from the program. Apple was said to have reversed the decision when it received complaints from large loyal customers including government agencies government bodies and universities worried about Apple's green credentials.
What has any of this got to do with healthy frequent flying you might ask? Apple's sizeable share in tablets and mobile phones means they are often the items of choice brought on aircrafts when passengers choose to entertain themselves. The WSJ article Switch Off or Get Off highlights a potential problem electronic equipment may pose if Wi-Fi in the sky becomes the norm, which does seem to be the trend these days. The key passage to note reads as follows
"Two studies to date highlight the possible dangers electronic devices may pose to aircraft. The first one conducted by researchers from Carnegie Mellon in 2006 measured cellphone emissions in-flight and found frequencies that could interfere with global positioning satellite systems. The other by RTCA Inc (an advisory body to the FAA) in 2008 confirmed emissions from personal electronic devices or T-PEDS could interfere with critical aircraft systems".
If emissions from phones and tablets risk posing a danger to aircraft systems and peoples health on-board then Apple's change of heart is welcome and we should applaud it. Lest we forget the quality and availability of oxygen on a plane at altitude is suspect to begin with, polluting what little oxygen there is with emissions from mobile devices could become a problem for all fliers. It might be a personal preference but the best apples are always green!References & Sources
TechBeast - http://www.techbeast.net/2012/07/13/apple-makes-a-u-turn-on-epeat-withdrawal/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed
MobiThinking.com - World's media tablet shipments by OS (2010 -2016) http://mobithinking.com/mobile-marketing-tools/latest-mobile-stats/a#mobiletablet
WSJ Europe Article http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204781804577267304080904804.html
Saturday, 14 July 2012
The Most Frequent Frequent Fliers Hold The Key
I once read some very good business advice which preached the value of catering to the extremes of a target audience. The notion was that if they were catered for all other demographics within that target market would be well taken care of. So it is with jet lagged travellers. Frequent business fliers are representative of this extreme, they tend to be jet stressed rather than jet lagged. An article in Wired magazine* charted the travel paths of business fliers over a year demonstrating the intensity of travel schedules of frequent fliers. The goals of business travellers to maximise productivity while on the road, make the right impressions, close the deal and stay healthy bring home the urgency of the conversation at hand.
Jet Lag Doesn't Pay, The Costs
The price we pay for not dealing with jet lag and it's associated woes outweighs the benefits. The costs are measured on a personal and global business scale. You can measure it on the personal scale with the tendency towards weight gain, insomnia, tiredness, fatigue, adrenal stress, hormone irregularities, trouble conceiving and the list goes on and on. I know about this I witness as much flying for one of the UK's largest airlines week in week out. The cost to global business is measured in millions of dollars in lost productivity. A 2003 New York Times survey* estimated that heavy duty business travellers lost about 20 per cent productivity due to trans-meridian travel. A recent AirPlus Traveller Productivity White Paper* also highlights the link between business travel and productivity.
Jet Lag Solutions Need An Upgrade
Over the short ascent of global business travel and globalisation many advances and efficiencies have been made in the area of civil aviation. The hardware of the trade, the planes have seen many modifications including fly by wire technology and a new generation of fuel efficient planes to take us into the 21st century. Contrast that with the plight of the the frequent business flier, jet lag has remained a constant on the landscape.
There has been no respite, yet our world has become more demanding. Global mobile working is on the increase see the Worldwide ERC website* for confirmation. Look to Hollywood as an example of what I mean by this. A script is produced, a film is cast, locations are scouted out and the cast goes on location to shoot. Travelling to locations are incidental to the outcomes sought be it a film or a business meeting. Yet the quality of the end product can depend so much on the well being of the participants. As globalisation makes the world smaller and calls for collaborative groups to come together in the name of a common goal over a short period of time, the need to be fully functional and productive becomes a conditional necessity for success.
Pharmaceutical Interventions The Only Show in Town, Really?
Until now the loudest voice heard in this conversation has been that of the pharmaceutical industry. Representative of this was Cephalon's failed bid* to get the FDA to permit the sale of Nuvigil as cure for jet lag. It speaks to the default mode of operation, a pill for every ill and reclassifies jet lag from a costly inconvenience into an illness. This brings me to the point I want to make - better living through chemistry does have its limits. The entire idea that you can continually drug yourself out of jet lag over the span of your career of flying and come out ahead is moot. Workforce mobility and globalisation on the horizon should make this obviously clear by now. Any conversation about a cure to the problems of jet lag has to have an element of sustainability about it, and this is where current approaches fall down.
Let's Start with The First Question
The required change in tone of conversation is not complete without looking at the definition we give jet lag. Up until now it is characterised as being all about the body clock to the exclusion of anything else. As useful as this is it is limiting in the creativity we can bring to finding a sustainable solution. The discussion has to include a Jet Lag 101 course which asks questions like what is jet lag in its entirety? How does it affects you differently from me? How can you take charge of your solution? Are there guiding principles and methodologies we can all relate to and use? Without this first step we are doomed to looking at the same information but expecting a different answer. Scientific data is useful in dissecting the mechanisms of jet lag but we need to look beyond that to find a workable solution. Just to be clear any sustainable methodology has to be able to stand up to scientific examination to gain acceptance and credibility. However it starts with an inclusive discussion rather than graphing an old understanding of healthy flying and jet lag onto an environment and condition which is current dynamic and changing.
Wired Magazine - New Age Traveller Infoporn#14 October 2010
The New York Times
- Business Travel section November 2003
- Regulators reject Cephalon's bid http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/business/30drug.html
AirPlus International Traveller Productivity White Paper
Worldwide ERC - The Workforce Mobility Association
- The Revival of Value - A Closer Look at Trends in Business Travel
(c) Christopher Babayode 2012