Virtual Team Events Are The Hot New Thing

Virtual experiences have risen from the ashes of Covid. I speak from personal experience when our business came to a halt in March at our 23 year old promotional products company. Understandably our corporate clients greatly reduced spending on swag as soon as the quarantine started.

We needed another way to connect with clients. That led us to launch #ConnectRship, a virtual game experience designed for companies to engage with colleagues and clients, and #ConnectRcentral, a website with a variety of virtual events for companies to book for virtual holiday parties, conferences, retreats and other events that would normally take place in person.

I have spoken with over 80 corporate clients since July and based on these discussions, we are seeing that companies are looking for ways to connect with their remote employees, making virtual events the hot new thing.

Since Covid almost all companies have remote workforces and they are looking for ways to maintain corporate culture. Before Covid we cared about corporate culture to increase employee retention, recruit better talent, improve brand reputation, and increase productivity. Companies still need to maintain corporate culture but now they also need it to maintain basic human connections.

Before Covid, companies were offering all sorts of in-person perks like free meals, free beer, napping pods, etc. When Google opened a new office in Washington in 2009, it included amenities like a climbing wall, a gym and a soda fountain. These perks helped companies compete for and retain employees.

Post-covid, companies still need to compete for talent but now employees are mostly working remotely from all over the country and world.

Without these in-person perks, companies need to change how they engage their remote workforces to provide the same collegiality and camaraderie.

The interesting thing is that post-Covid, location is no longer a barrier. Everyone can hop on zoom to work together or socialize. Most people have certainly seen this happening with families and friends. The same goes for companies.

While zoom happy hours were the exciting virtual event at the beginning of Covid, like in-person perks, the expectations for engaging, interesting and fun on-line events has increased.

Virtual events provide interaction among colleagues that normally would have taken place in office hallways, at water coolers and lunch rooms.

Virtual events run the gamut. How about a virtual #cooking competition like the Chopped television show on the Food Network? Divide your employees into teams and see who wins.

If competition is not your thing, host a #mixology event where you learn how to make awesome cocktails or mocktails sprinkled in with trivia, interactive polls and a lot of fun conversation among your teammates, or a wine tasting with the selection of wines delivered to your door.

These virtual events provide the missing employee engagement while everyone is working remotely.

Here is a great example of this. One of our clients is doing 19 sessions of virtual #games and activities to be played tournament style, giving remote employees a regular time to connect, to enjoy each other’s company and work together and compete. They are doing a NCAA type bracket of games with double elimination and a winners and losers bracket, culminating in two playoffs. The spirit and team bonding has been incredible.

We had another client looking for some fun entertainment to bring their team together and host a meeting afterwards so they hired our virtual #magician and mentalist.

We are talking to a company that has offices all over the world and is growing quickly. Before covid they prided themselves on working hard and playing even harder. This company relied on weekly events to build corporate culture. Now they are looking to us to provide them with a whole menu of virtual events to replace their in person events. Also, as they expand all over the world, it has become harder and harder to have everyone together. These virtual events will provide them valuable employee engagement.

For many vendors with in-person events, virtual offerings have become a necessity to stay in business and thrive. I am currently working with seven event vendors who only did live events before Covid and now they have successfully pivoted to virtual events, providing the same benefits virtually that they would have provided in person.

Then you may wonder, is this a 6-12 month phenomena? Will the need for virtual events disappear as soon as the Covid-19 vaccine has been released? The answer is no. The major tech companies that are always driving the innovation curve, are announcing that they will let people work from home forever, including Twitter, Shopify, Facebook and Slack.

There are so many reasons why many companies won’t have their employees return to the office full time or at all.

First, we have learned from this pandemic that many businesses can run efficiently and just as effectively remotely. Technology has ensured that. Companies are realizing they can save money on commercial real estate and other in-office expenses and improve peoples’ lives by allowing them to work remotely, eliminating long and expensive commutes.

Second, without commuting distance restrictions, companies can recruit the best talent from all over the country and world.

Third, employees can move to lower cost regions of the country to increase their quality of living and still work for their companies.

Companies are discovering that virtual team events combined with a short commute upstairs when they are over, are the perfect antidote to a remote world.

---Delivered on Webcast on October 25, 2020, #What's Happening Next

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