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Do consultants have to work in-flight?

Anonymous A asked on Mar 01, 2018 - 6 answers

Do consultants work in the air when they travel? I can't imagine myself on a laptop on a plane as I get so motion sick

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replied on Mar 02, 2018
McKinsey Engagement Manager & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 100+ candidates secure MBB offers
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That's a tricky one!

The truth is that, formally, McKinsey and BCG strongly discourage (if not prohibit) working on flights, due to confidentiality. But the truth is also that the majority of consultants actually work on flights, just to cope with the workload.

So different aspects need to balanced against each other here. I for example have frequently worked on very sensitive topics (stock market relevant), so I did not work on flights and I also gave directive to my teams on such projects that working on the plane is an absolute no-go. When working on less sensitive stuff, it was more about applying good judgement.

Tyrion Lannister replied on Mar 03, 2018
High-borns only! Targaryens preferred. Absolutely NO Lannisters! :-)

I have worked on 100% of my flights.

Now, there has never been explicit guidance to do this (or not to do this, might I add), but for me it makes so much sense...especially on flights longer than 90 minutes. No interruptions. Just you and your workstream and the satisfaction of being further along in the task at hand when you land than when you boarded.

To answer your question bluntly, though, if you own a major and/or dynamic piece of the work on your case and deadlines are approaching, the expectation from both your superiors and your subordinates is that you're working every chance you get...including on flights. :-)

All the best! :-)

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replied on Mar 02, 2018
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Hi Anonymous,

you are not formally obliged to work, but if you don’t you will have to recoup the time later in the day (more likely – night). In general moreover if all your team is working you are basically expected to work as well (or at least to ask if you can help). If you don’t feel well it’s ok to rest though.

As for my experience, I always worked when travelling, both during flights and train trips.



replied on Mar 02, 2018
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The main expectation is just that you get what was assigned to you done by the deadline agreed. That usually imply that consultants work on flights but that doesn’t mean you have to, especially if you have a good reason like feeling queasy. However the implication is that you will have to stay up later/wake up earlier or eat into your “at home” time.

in my years I never found a good solution for Thursdays, for Mondays instead I decided to fly Sunday nights so I could be productive on Monday morning.

hope it helps,


Anonymous replied on Mar 01, 2018

Hey anonymous,

That's a tricky question, as often consultants fly either overnight (if it's long haul flights) or, at least try to, fly early morning or late evenings, then you wouldn't need to work while travelling.

However, if you really need to fly during the day, from my personal experience (and I spent half of my McKinsey time working abroad), I can tell you that the Partners expect you to work during the flight



replied on Mar 01, 2018
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It's not that you have to but rather if you want to save some time.

If you have motion sickness - you can definitely not work. It's not a problem, especially if you have the medical reasons.