Professional and Career Topics

  • 1.  Post-Covid Airtravel for work

    Posted 06-30-2020 11:16 AM
    I travel a fair amount for work. Our projects are spread throughout the US but around mid-march we stopped air travel. As the corona-virus lingers on we realized, we can't work from home forever, it is essential to continue traveling for our projects and have therefore resumed.

    I'm curious to hear everyone's perspective on returning to air travel. Have you flown since the covid shutdown? How are you handling returning to the office after business travels? And so on. One of my biggest concerns is that I get stranded in a jurisdiction that enacts some extreme restrictions overnight. The inconsistency has been a frustration. In some states I'm not welcome at all, some states want me to stay in the hotel for 2 weeks, some don't care a bit what I do. All states want me to keep spending the money and keep those projects running. SMH.

    Some of the guidance from the human resource professionals and even OSHA aren't exactly realistic. As I've resumed my travels I've got a lot of new lessons learned. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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    Jesse Kamm PhD, PMP, A.M.ASCE
    Senior Vice President of Construction Management
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  • 2.  RE: Post-Covid Airtravel for work

    Posted 07-06-2020 02:44 PM
    Hi Jesse,
    I traveled for field work during late May while Hawaii had an interisland quarantine rule in effect (we were determined to be essential workers). I had daily round trip flights about an hour each way. I would also note that Hawaii's case load was and still is very low (currently 25 new cases per day). In total, I took 20 flights and others in my company have traveled more.

    • Get to the airport 30 min to an hour earlier than normal to make sure you have time to get through security and any screenings there might be. We only had one checkpoint open versus the usual 3, so the airport was (relatively) very busy for the first and last flights of the day.
    • Consider wearing a KN95 or N95 mask (I happened to have N95s that we couldn't donate, yay home improvement project prep) at the airport because of the enclosed spaces and potential to be in close proximity to many other people.
    • Bring an empty water bottle and snacks. For us, only Starbucks was open and the lounges, newsstands, and other food places were all closed.
    • Bring wipes for the arm rests in the waiting areas and the plane. On the plane, don't forget to wipe the air nozzle, reading light button, seat buckle, tray table, arm rests.
    • Bring something that will relax or distract you. If you absolutely have to travel, then you know you've done everything possible to avoid it at that point and there's a risk when you travel. All you can do is mitigate the risks to yourself and acknowledge traveling may be very stressful. I sometimes would have to take some deep breaths in my car before heading to check in.

    Good luck and stay safe!

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    Kristen Yoshida P.E.,M.ASCE
    Belt Collins Hawaii LLC
    Honolulu, HI
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  • 3.  RE: Post-Covid Airtravel for work

    Posted 07-13-2020 12:05 PM
    Thanks Kristen, so far I've found traveling in this time quite manageable. I wear a face covering, carry hand sanitizer and keep my distance. I don't usually talk to people on the planes anyhow. Hotels are still hit or miss and I've found most places do not want you to use their public bathroom (which they have to have available by building code..but now they ban users from using them - SMH). I stopped at six places for my son, all said we could not use their bathroom - of course when I told them we were going to use their bushes they allowed us - lol.

    I too have noticed the vendors are mostly closed which makes eating on the go a bit difficult. I'm taking more direct flights, packing snacks, and limiting my time at the terminal.

    Are you back to working from the office or still mostly at home?

    We've had some people asking those of us that have to travel to stay away from the office but that isn't realistic since we also have duties that mandate a physical presence at the office.

    One leadership practice I've found helpful in navigating the "new" awkwardness of meeting people (are we fist bumping, shaking hands, saluting, bowing, etc.?.) is to practice behavioral "mirroring". I've done this for years in negotiating but have found it to be helpful in breaking any "new" normative social behaviors with regard to COVID-19. I look for ques from the other person I try to mirror what they are doing.

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    Jesse Kamm PhD, PMP, A.M.ASCE
    Senior Vice President of Construction Management
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  • 4.  RE: Post-Covid Airtravel for work

    Posted 07-20-2020 09:01 AM
    Hi Jesse,
    We are back in the office on an alternating week schedule and WFH on the other week to allow for an empty cubical between people. Honolulu now mandates wearing masks indoors in office settings and we have temperature checks when we get to the office, so we are allowed back in the office even after travelling interisland right now. Some people may have to travel to Guam for a project and they will have to complete a 14-day quarantine at home upon return.

    For greetings, the mayors have started a "Shakas not Shakes​" campaign and people seem to be embracing that trend (no pun intended).

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    Kristen Yoshida P.E.,M.ASCE
    Belt Collins Hawaii LLC
    Honolulu, HI
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  • 5.  RE: Post-Covid Airtravel for work

    Posted 07-11-2020 12:10 AM
    In the mean time its important to follow the respective jurisdictions orders. I was in a pre-COVID travel situation and I was making plans to stay in California for long term, but ended up having to return home for a variety of reasons. I was almost stranded and had no place to go, including shelter, so if you would, it is best not to travel when you do not need to.


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    Oanh Le, She/Her
    Rochdale, MA
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  • 6.  RE: Post-Covid Airtravel for work

    Posted 07-13-2020 12:30 PM
    Hi Oanh, thanks for the response. I agree we need to follow the jurisdictional orders as best we can manage. The orders vary in in each jurisdiction which makes it somewhat guess work. I'm in the routine of wearing my face covering in public, carrying hand sanitizer, paying attention to when i've touched possible contaminants and keep my distance as much as possible. Unfortunately, the "need" to travel can be somewhat a subjective judgement call. My firm is responsible for funding construction projects, which in turn funds many engineering professionals in their work as well. I'm not going to be comfortable releasing millions of dollars without doing the requisite due diligence. If I don't travel to these projects and meet with the team, then they won't have jobs. We do a lot of zoom meetings but I need to see the assets in place and I need to make sure the people I'm dealing with can be trusted. Both require the face to face. Most of our projects also involve community need oriented programs which also is a direct benefit to society.

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    Jesse Kamm PhD, PMP, A.M.ASCE
    Senior Vice President of Construction Management
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