Event Management

Face-to-Face Events Vital in a Remote Work World

Skift Take

The Covid pandemic drastically altered work/life balance, and employees are demanding flexibility. This means offsite events are more critical than ever.

The world as we knew it came to a standstill during the height of the Covid pandemic. Corporate offices closed, forcing many employees to work from home. This trend is called The Great Merging as lines have been blurred between one’s personal and professional lives.

In most cases, this merging is here to stay. Why reopen the office with its associated expenses when everyone can work virtually and still remain productive?

Today, flexibility is key, and employees are clear – They don’t want to work 9-5 in a brick-and-mortar building five days a week.

The Great Attrition, or Resignation, that we heard so much about during the pandemic is a real phenomenon. The bottom line? If employees are not happy, they will leave.

How do you increase satisfaction amongst your workforce when working in home silos can be so isolating? Social connections and human contact are what remote workers often say they miss most, so, the answer is to give them a sense of belonging and help them bond with their teammates.

Although virtual meetings are effective business tools, they don’t replace interacting with colleagues in real life. With this in mind, many corporations are using some of the money normally spent on rent to create off-site events that bring together employees working in disparate locations.

“The genie is out of the bottle. Remote work as a modality is here to stay. Employees occasionally need to come together, be that weekly, monthly, or quarterly,” said Carl Winston, founder and director of the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at San Diego State University. “This is a whole new kind of group travel and a significant economic phenomenon that didn’t exist before the pandemic.”

The best offsite gatherings help bring teams closer together, improving morale in the process. And they should incorporate fun, especially now that there is a glimmer of light coming out of the pandemic darkness. Plus, levity is known to ignite many a business idea. There is no doubt that offsite events help colleagues connect on a deeper level which helps with collaboration.

“I believe relationships grow as a result of life experiences that happen face-to-face. You can’t grow a relationship electronically. You can maintain it, but you can’t grow it,” said Winston. “Plus, those companies that resume meetings and offsite events more quickly can gain a competitive edge over those that are still not ready.”

Today’s Office Is A Novelty

Amy Yin, CEO and founder, OfficeTogether, a workplace collaboration platform that puts employees at the center of the hybrid experience, believes in the power of frequent offsite gatherings. Although she has organized trips to Panama, the Catskills, and Mexico, she has also opened an office in New York City.

“Today, the office is an exotic locale for many folks,” said Yin. “We were in Playa del Carmen a few weeks ago, and our next gathering will be in our office in New York City, where we all co-work for a week.”

Many companies who refuse to close their brick-and-mortar offices are struggling with what to do with the space. Yin recommends jazzing it up.

“Plan events, speaker series, happy hours,” she said. “Events are a big way companies are spinning the engagement flywheel.”

Work friendships increase productivity by 700 percent, Yin said. Plus, companies that foster this engagement are 12 percent more profitable, she added, referring to a Gallup study. “That is why the demand for corporate real estate hasn’t gone down drastically. Companies are treating their offices like venues or special event spaces. They are getting rid of the sea of desks and redesigning the workplace to foster in-person collaboration. An offsite can be off-site or on-site. It is a fascinating trend.”

Trailing a Path

Salesforce is taking the offsite event one step further with its Trailblazer Ranch. The company’s “Success From Anywhere’ strategy focuses on finding ways to bring its teams together in spaces that cultivate connection.

While the company solidifies its long-term Trailblazer Ranch site, it has partnered with 1440 Multiversity set on 75 acres of towering Redwoods in Scotts Valley, California. Salesforce is partnering with this non-profit organization to help create employee engagement programs. Read more about what Salesforce is doing by clicking here.

Hotels have responded to this trend by reconfiguring meeting space in innovative ways. Hyatt, for example, has created “Work from Hyatt: Offsite,” created to meet the growing demand from companies to have their colleagues connect in person.

EventMB will be onsite at the Skift Future of Lodging Forum, May 11-12 in New York City which will focus on The Great Merging.