"the economic case has massively weakened with the changes to business travel post-Covid"
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's words this week. Significantly diverting resources, focus and funds - he cited a figure of £36bn, commentators offer numbers north of £50bn - away from the fiasco that grew from attempting to build a brand new high-speed rail link from the capital.
As cost projections spiralled massively ever higher, a lot has been made of the inability to keep such huge infrastructure budgets under control.
Widely reported number crunching by Britain Remade, found that the first leg of this project currently stands at a cost of £396m per mile. Whereas say in France, similar projects cost £46m per mile. An 8½-times premium. Laughable, if it wasn't so ruinous.
Interestingly from a broad Sales perspective, that made the sunk cost fallacy roar into view. Yet the misguided temptation to adhere to 'keep on digging' was thankfully ignored. In the PM's words again;
"I say, to those who backed the project in the first place, the facts have changed. And the right thing to do when the facts change is to have the courage to change direction. And so, I am ending this long-running saga."
A salutary lesson. There ought be no throwing good money after bad in our arena either. Prospects take note.
What caused such once cross-party accepted facts to now change?
Clearly several can claim various levels of contribution. Let's home-in on the one as cited directly by the PM in this post's opening quote above.
What are these business travel changes of which he speaks?
They're not mysterious.
Hybrid working feels ingrained.
Mondays and Fridays in British cities rendered as ghost towns.
Commuter runs noticeably suffered by fewer people.
Yet it goes deeper.
In my homeland, there's barely a handful of major conurbations within an hour's travel time of each other. In places with larger land mass or lessened population density (almost everywhere else), that dwindles to hardly any at all.
So what are we doing?
Conducting business over video.
More and more.
Perhaps at present, the upside is mainly noted by way of having less 'dead time', a bit more discretionary income and maybe re-tilted work/life balance.
Yet there's much more to get our teeth into.
Principally from a boost in productivity.
For it is not enough to merely enjoy the release doing more video calls may bring.
The next step is to make them truly work for you.
If your video meetings are basically a phone call with a 2-D pic of another person or two on-screen...
If you send/receive a video meeting invite not really knowing why the medium of video is chosen...
If you are yet to categorise which meetings are the essential ones to hold over video...
Then now feel liberated. You have great scope to embrace the wonders of video calls that will help you outstrip any competition, and propel your career ever farther.
And who knows, maybe one day closer to a fifty billion difference than you can otherwise imagine.