Remote work and working from home isn’t a new concept. Over 5 million Americans worked remotely or at least flexibly in 2018, and that number has now skyrocketed due to the current public health crisis. On ZipRecruiter, 11.3 percent of jobs now specify a work from home option as opposed to 1.3 percent pre-March 2020.
Many experts feel that remote work will continue even after the pandemic resolves. Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, says that, “Our best estimate is that 25-30 percent of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.”
The flexibility that working from home offers is great for many employees and employers alike. But, as everyone adjusts, it will have some challenges.
Culture, innovation, and human connection can suffer because of remote work. HR teams are struggling during these times to figure out how to engage their teams and help maintain connections between employees. While teams used to meet for a happy hour or bowling activity as a group, now virtual events held via video conference are filling the void and bringing teams closer together.
Before you start virtual event planning for your team, consider the following:
who is the event for? identify the purpose
Team building events and activities often exist for improving employee engagement and boosting employee morale, health, and wellbeing. But not every employee, team, or department is going to connect with all types of activities or events.
Different departments and teams have different personalities. Use your firsthand knowledge of your colleagues, what they like, what they dislike, what their job entails, etc., to choose a virtual event that suits that particular audience. Also consider: do you want to open it up to families, or keep it more tight-knit?
Once you have a good idea of which team you’re accommodating and who will be there, you’ll be able to narrow down your options in terms of seeking out vendors. That leads right into the next step.
what’s the format?
Events can range from educational to hands-on to creative to informative. Choose one that aligns with the audience’s personality, wants, and needs. Ideally, you can find a vendor who can host multiple types of events. This will make scheduling future events easier for you.
Would your group want a creative event where they’ll participate in a hands-on activity? Or, would they want something more relaxing like a meditation lecture & session?
A pasta making class
Virtual yoga session
Build a succulent terrarium
Guest lecture from an expert in beer brewing
Group paint night
how often will you host events?
Recurring events can be great for employees to start looking forward to. Virtual events are often more effective when offered weekly or monthly as it helps your team create a habit and an expectation of the events.
Getting your team to come back for other events and giving them events to look forward to in a scheduled format helps keep up momentum, participation, and culture. Not to mention, having regularly scheduled virtual event programming can help you streamline your decision-making and free you up to do other things.
So it’s smart to find vendors who can meet this need for you. You want someone who can host multiple events for you each month for your various teams. You also want someone who has a reliable enough virtual event model to be able to engage your teams for months to come.
what are the logistics?
Virtual event planning can look and feel similar to planning an in-person event. This means things like promotion, signups & deadlines, troubleshooting tech, sending out reminders for the event, etc. Here are just a few things to keep in mind for planning the logistics of a virtual event:
Q&As are common in both virtual and live events. If you go the Q&A route for a virtual event, though, remember the format is different. It’s harder for the host to present, view, and answer questions all at once on a screen. In our experience working on and running virtual events, Q&As are best achieved with a moderator who can facilitate attendee questions for the host.
If any materials are needed for an event, keep transit time in mind so everything arrives in time for the event. Think about where your employees are in relation to where the materials are coming from so the vendor has time to send everything.
Timezone. Having attendees or hosts in various different time zones and locations can affect the best date and time for the event. It’s hard to make everyone happy with a single event, so alternating times is a good idea to be more inclusive of all locations.
While communicating dates and times to hosts and attendees, we also recommend communicating your tech guidelines. This includes whether attendees should be on mute, whether the camera should be on or off, etc. We recommend that whenever there are 8 or more attendees that everyone be on mute as a default to avoid background noise and distractions.
Send follow up emails leading up to each event. This will help to drum up even more excitement!
virtual event planning: working with the experts
Remote work is here to stay. As we get used to this new digital & remote world, it’s important to keep culture intact. Virtual event planning and the virtual events themselves are perfect opportunities to bring your team closer together no matter where they are in the world.