Remote companies have moved from being the exception to more of the standard in our post-COVID world. Globally, 16% of companies are remote only, with many more companies working in a hybrid capacity.
Even if remote work has been more fully embraced by the working world, there still remains a place for in-person events. Remote workers still may desire some face-to-face interaction with their teams, even if it’s just once a year. Some remote workers may feel isolated or lonely at times, even if they normally enjoy the remote aspect of their jobs.
By planning an in-person event, a remote staff can look forward to meeting people they have only ever seen on computer screens, and participate in in-person team building activities that will strengthen the organization overall.
The Benefits of In-person Events
Companies that are all-in on remote work may wonder what benefits can be had from hosting an in-person event. There are many benefits to be gleaned from in-person events for remote teams.
For one, it lends a human element to the teams. It can be easy to feel disconnected when the only time you speak with or see fellow employees is over a Zoom meeting. Meeting in-person allows for closer interaction outside of the confines of work tasks. Teams can “let down their hair” a bit and really get to know one another in an environment where they can see facial expressions better, read body language, and talk about something outside of work. These are all hallmarks of communication that are integral to forging strong relationships.
In-person events can also help organizations launch new initiatives and drum up excitement. There are certain moves that do not translate as well in a remote environment. Yes, you can have breakout sessions remotely, or even play games or have off-topic discussions. However, gathering an entire team into an in-person event allows for the free flow of ideas, in-the-moment problem solving, and more effective team building.
Once your company decides to host an in-person event, the event needs to be thoroughly planned and expectations need to be set. These expectations should include attendance policy, travel guidelines, information on who pays for what and when, and what employees can expect to gain from the event.
A large in-person event can take months or even over a year to plan, and should not be hastily thrown together at the last minute. The larger your team, the more planning the event will likely require. Thorough planning can ensure there are no event-ending hiccups that occur once everything is set into motion.
If you are going to host an in-person event for your remote team, you need to be prepared to dazzle your remote workers to make the event worthwhile. As people get more invested in all the perks of remote work, such as a better work/life balance, or even just being able to work in their yoga pants, it will become more challenging to convince them to pop on a name tag and show up at something face-to-face.
By offering opportunities such as workshops, networking opportunities, and fun activities they can’t get anywhere else, you will make your in-person event so appealing that they wouldn’t dare miss it.
Mistakes to Avoid
In-person events have many moving parts, which increases the chances that something could go wrong. Some mistakes to keep an eye out for include: travel planning issues, running out of food for your team, failing to properly plan meeting times or activities, confusion among the staff about the itinerary, audio/visual issues, or even weather events. Careful, thorough planning can help teams avoid any pitfalls or mistakes and help your event go off without a hitch.
The benefits of an in-person event do not end simply because the event is over. There should be post-event meetings to discuss what was accomplished by hosting the event, what was learned or discovered during the event, and how subsequent events should be handled. The remote staff should be thanked for their attendance, and leadership should survey their team members to find out how they felt about the event or if they have any suggestions about how future events could be better handled.
Although in-person events can be expensive and require extensive planning, remote teams often find the investment is worth it. Employees arrive feeling like individual workers and may leave feeling more connected —- like family. Both in-person and remote work offer a bevy of benefits to employees in this new world of work.
By striking a balance between the in-person and the remote through in-person events, leaders can take advantage of all the benefits and build stronger, more effective teams.