There’s an old joke about an effective way to train a mule. Step one: Hit him over the head with a two-by-four because first you have to get his attention.
This past month Iceland’s volcano Eyafjallajökull has definitely gotten the attention of almost anyone bound to or from Europe. Although estimates vary, the costs of the ash-induced travel interruptions since the beginning of April are in the tens of billions of dollars/euros/pounds. Those costs are measured in flights canceled, insurance claims, hotel and restaurant charges and lost productivity, among others, and are guaranteed to continue to mount as the volcano keeps erupting and the wind patterns closely resemble the recent ones. (For a different view of the productivity issue check Lucy Kellaway’s article in the 26 April Financial Times.)
There has also been a sudden rash in videoconferencing and similar forms of teleworking, according to press reports.
Now the question is: has anybody learned anything from all this?