Company Events: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities for Enhanced Engagement

In an era defined by rapid technological advancements and shifting workplace dynamics, the resurgence of corporate events begins the journey toward normalcy. As companies across industries embrace the return of in-person gatherings, there is a need to explore the evolving landscape of corporate events, identify emerging trends, and address the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. We delve deep into corporate events, leveraging statistical data, expert insights, and industry analysis to provide a nuanced understanding of corporate gatherings' current and future trajectory.

Initially perceived as a temporary solution during the pandemic, remote work has emerged as a sustainable and beneficial arrangement for employers and employees. Studies conducted by Stanford, Harvard, and other institutions have underscored the increasing prevalence of remote work, with job postings explicitly mentioning remote work experiencing an increase since the onset of the pandemic. 

The Revival of In-Person Events: A Statistical Overview

Initially perceived as a temporary solution during the pandemic, remote work has emerged as a sustainable and beneficial arrangement for employers and employees. Studies conducted by Stanford, Harvard, and other institutions have underscored the increasing prevalence of remote work, with job postings explicitly mentioning remote work experiencing an increase since the onset of the pandemic. 

During the worldwide turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, live meetings began to be replaced with virtual conferences and digital summits. As vaccination rates rise and public health constraints loosen, businesses seek to rebuild the essential ties formed by in-person interactions. According to recent studies, 88% of firms are actively preparing for the revival of in-person events in 2022 and beyond, indicating a widespread desire to rekindle team dynamics, boost cooperation, and revitalize company culture.

The return of in-person events signifies a monumental shift in how we connect and collaborate as organizations. As humans, we crave genuine interactions and shared experiences, and corporate events catalyze building meaningful relationships and driving collective success.

- Tom Nguyen, CEO of Café

Furthermore, data shows that 50% of organizations prioritize planning team-building events as their first attempt to reconnect colleagues, while 46% are excited about hosting large-scale corporate off-sites. These figures highlight the importance of interpersonal ties and shared experiences in motivating employees.

Adapting to Remote Work and Distributed Teams: Maximizing Flexibility and Collaboration

The resurgence of in-person gatherings coexists with the rise of remote work and distributed teams, reflecting a fundamental shift in workplace dynamics. Distributed teams, comprising individuals working across various locations, have become increasingly prevalent. These teams encompass remote workers, freelancers, consultants, and virtual assistants, enabling businesses to tap into a global talent pool without being confined to a specific physical location.

Similarly, remote teams operate remotely from home or a central location, offering employees unprecedented flexibility in their work arrangements. Companies may opt for a hybrid model, allowing employees to work remotely for a portion of the week while fostering in-person collaboration during designated days. This approach enhances work-life balance and enables companies to attract and retain top talent regardless of geographical constraints.

The Human Element: Building Relationships in a Digital Age

While online platforms have improved communication and collaboration throughout the epidemic, in-person relationships lack authenticity. Employees need real connections and genuine friendship, and the comeback of in-person events provides a unique chance to establish interpersonal interactions and improve team alliances. According to a poll of industry professionals, 79% of employees name creating connections as their primary reason for attending in-person events, demonstrating the significant influence of human connection on employee morale and engagement.

In the digital age, where virtual interactions have become the norm, the return of in-person events represents a welcome opportunity to reconnect on a human level. These gatherings foster collaboration and creativity and nurture team members' sense of belonging and camaraderie.

- Denise Brouder, Workplace Consultant.

Industry leaders such as Avi Meir, CEO & Co-Founder at TravelPerk, underscore the transformative power of in-person interactions, emphasizing the value of shared experiences and genuine connections. As Avi aptly states, "The important things in life happen in person," encapsulating the essence of human connection and its irreplaceable role in shaping organizational culture and driving collective success.

Navigating Challenges: From Logistics to Sustainability

Despite the optimism surrounding the comeback of in-person events, organizations must overcome many obstacles to ensure the success and longevity of their projects. The handling of travel and housing logistics is the most significant of these problems, with 68% of organizations seeing it as their top obstacle in event preparation. From planning transportation to finding accommodation arrangements for participants, logistical complexity presents substantial challenges for event organizers looking to provide smooth and memorable experiences.

As organizations strive to create memorable and impactful events, they must navigate logistical challenges with agility and foresight. From managing travel arrangements to optimizing venue selection, meticulous planning and attention to detail are paramount to ensuring the success of corporate gatherings.

- John Smith, Event Planner.

Furthermore, the need to emphasize sustainability and environmental responsibility has grown with increased knowledge of climate change and ecological protection. With the events sector leaving a substantial carbon footprint, companies need to embrace sustainable practices and reduce their environmental effect. According to recent research, the average 1000-person event emits 530 metric tons of CO2e, emphasizing the need to use sustainable event design solutions.

As stewards of the environment, event organizers are responsible for prioritizing sustainability and minimizing the ecological footprint of corporate gatherings. By embracing sustainable practices such as waste reduction, energy efficiency, and carbon offsetting, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship while delivering memorable and impactful events.

- Sarah Johnson, Sustainability Consultant

Inclusion of Remote Employees and Distributed Teams

Thoughtful action is essential when creating inclusive cultures and maximizing the potential of all employees. As remote work increases, organizations can use inclusive practices and practical leadership skills in their teams' dynamics. This shift towards remote work, potentially permanent for some, shows the importance of seizing the moment to cultivate valuable habits that promote inclusion.

Why Inclusion Matters

The necessity for inclusivity is heightened during times of crisis as individuals deal with challenges. The impact of COVID-19 pushes for quickly fostering inclusive environments, particularly for marginalized groups. Inclusive practices support employees' well-being and contribute to organizational success by attracting top talent, enhancing retention, improving decision-making, and strengthening customer relationships.

Reinforcing Inclusion in Remote Workforces

Remote work presents both opportunities and challenges for fostering inclusion within teams. While technology enables connectivity, noninclusive dynamics in on-site teams can worsen in a remote context. Therefore, proactive measures are essential to promote inclusion in remote workforces. Here are seven actionable practices to consider:

  • Demonstrate Vulnerability and Empathy: "Embrace the opportunity to share more about yourself... It’s okay not to feel okay."
  • Ask About People's Needs: "Leaders cannot effectively advocate for someone without understanding what they are facing."
  • Challenge Personal Assumptions: "Ask questions before asserting, rather than assuming someone’s experience."
  • Build Space for Diverse Perspectives: "Leaders should harness the power of their teams’ diverse perspectives to enhance performance."
  • Make Time for Structured Remote Team Building: "It’s important to create space for connection as a substitute for in-person, impromptu engagement."
  • Be Intentional About Mentoring and Development: "Schedule regular one-on-one check-ins to discuss how individual team members are doing... to ensure interaction with the whole team."
  • Encourage Individual Inclusion Commitments: "Share your commitment with your team and be specific about the steps you’re taking to be more inclusive."

The Path Forward

By implementing these practices, leaders can foster a sense of belonging and connection among remote employees and distributed teams. Thoughtful and targeted action is essential to realizing these goals, ensuring that individuals and organizations thrive in the evolving workplace environment.

Technology is pivotal in simplifying event planning and enhancing attendee experiences. Advanced event management software automates tasks like RSVP management, feedback collection, event page creation, and attendee check-in, saving time and resources while optimizing employee engagement. Key features include:

  • RSVP and Feedback Forms: Customize forms to collect attendee responses and post-event feedback efficiently.
  • Streamlining Processes: Manage venue selection, agenda creation, speaker coordination, and budget tracking in one platform.
  • Event Page Creation: Build visually appealing pages with event details, registration links, and interactive features to boost engagement.
  • Check-In and On-Site Management: Effortlessly track attendance, manage walk-ins, and distribute event materials for a seamless on-site experience.

Incorporating these features into event management software streamlines RSVP and attendee management, mitigates logistical challenges, and delivers exceptional event experiences. Embracing innovative solutions is crucial for success in the ever-evolving event creation and management landscape.

Meeting Employee Needs

The importance of including learning and development opportunities at company gatherings. Investing in employee development is critical, as firms need help to retain top personnel and remain competitive in a continually changing market. Research continuously stresses the importance of learning and development in employee satisfaction and retention. According to the July 2021 Monster Job Index, 80% of professionals believe their employment should give them enough advancement opportunities. Addressing this gap by providing learning and development opportunities at business events may increase employee engagement and loyalty.

Learning & Development opportunities

Studies reveal that employees prioritize self-improvement and professional development when considering job satisfaction. Nearly one-third of tech workers prioritize employee development or tuition reimbursement over other benefits. Similarly, the Better Buys survey found that 92% of employees consider access to professional development essential.

Incorporating Learning Opportunities into Events

To maximize the impact of corporate events, organizations can integrate various learning and development activities tailored to employee needs and preferences. These can include:

  • Workshops and Training Sessions: Offer customized workshops and training sessions led by industry experts or university professors to equip employees with in-demand skills.
  • Skill-building Exercises: Incorporate skill-building exercises and interactive sessions focused on enhancing collaboration, problem-solving, and leadership skills.
  • Professional Development Panels: Host panels featuring successful professionals sharing insights and best practices to inspire and empower employees in their career journeys.
  • Networking Opportunities: Facilitate networking sessions where employees can connect with mentors, peers, and industry professionals to exchange knowledge and foster professional relationships.
  • Virtual Learning Platforms: Utilize virtual learning platforms to provide ongoing access to educational resources, courses, and certifications beyond the event, ensuring continuous learning and development.

Weaving learning and development opportunities into corporate events can help organizations meet employee expectations and foster a culture of growth, innovation, and excellence. Embracing this approach enhances employee skills and knowledge and strengthens the organization's competitive edge in the marketplace.

Looking Ahead: Emerging Trends and Future Outlook

As we look ahead to the future of corporate events, many important themes are expected to alter the landscape of event planning and execution. Artificial intelligence (AI) is projected to disrupt front-end and back-end event operations. From AI-powered chatbots to tailored event suggestions, technology advancements promise to improve attendee experiences, simplify event logistics, and increase participation.

As the events industry embraces digital transformation, artificial intelligence emerges as a powerful tool for enhancing event experiences and optimizing organizational efficiency. By leveraging AI-driven insights and automation, event organizers can deliver personalized, immersive, and memorable experiences that resonate with attendees and drive meaningful outcomes.

- Emily Chen, Technology Analyst

Furthermore, the events sector will focus more on accessibility, inclusion, and diversity as businesses aim to provide inviting and equitable experiences for all guests. Event organizers should ensure that their events reflect varied viewpoints and experiences in their communities by promoting diversity in speaker lineups, adopting accessible measures, and cultivating a culture of belonging.

In an increasingly diverse and interconnected world, inclusivity and diversity are moral imperatives and strategic advantages. By fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment for all attendees, event organizers can harness diverse perspectives' collective wisdom and creativity, driving innovation and organizational success.

- Maria Rodriguez, Diversity & Inclusion Specialist

The re-emergence of corporate events provides a significant opportunity for firms to reconnect, rethink, and rejuvenate their staff. Companies can negotiate the challenges of today's employment context by using the value of face-to-face interactions, embracing technology breakthroughs, and advocating sustainability and diversity. As we begin on this journey together, let us assume corporate events' transformational power to create good change, develop meaningful relationships, and impact the future of work.

(BONUS): What tool for your company events?

Café, the All-in-one engagement platform

Café is the all-in-one engagement platform, designed to drive office and remote engagement, boost social cohesion and enhance cross-collaboration. 

Coordinating large-scale corporate events is a huge task that takes meticulous planning and attention to detail. To help companies ensure that the event planning process goes smoothly, Café was designed with all aspects of event creation and management in mind, thanks to feedback and insights from users.

Pre-event, event coordinators can browse Café data–such as favorite music, hobbies, and foods–to discover the trends across their companies and create events that will resonate with employees. Regional hubs in Café make it seamless to invite all local employees to an event in one-click, even if employees are remote and not tied to an office. Pre-event surveys can be sent via Café to collect dietary restrictions, travel requirements, or any other important information needed from the audience prior to the event. 

Café’s event creation tool is intuitive and allows event coordinators to book a conference room, set a capacity and waitlist, tailor the audience with robust filters, and send invitations directly through Google Calendar or Outlook. 

Café’s dedicated event landing page consolidates all information in one place so that employees can easily access what they need, and coordinators can create a Slack channel tied to the event that will automatically be populated with confirmed attendees. Upon arrival, event coordinators can manually check employees in, so that after the event, they can see event acceptance rate and no-show rate. After the event happens, coordinators can send a survey to capture feedback and suggestions.

Key features: 

  • Single & multi day events
  • Groups, communities & ERG's pages 
  • Dynamic audience (per team, location, interest…) 
  • RSVP form & check-in
  • Feedback surveys & Poll

TeamOut, the utlimate solution for tailored team experiences

TeamOut is the platform that simplifies the organization of corporate retreats and offsite by making it easier than ever to browse, book and coordinate events.

TeamOut offers a free service to help users find venues for their events and provides assistance throughout the planning process, from property recommendations and quote negotiations to event planning. Users can independently explore and gather quotes, to full concierge services that manage every aspect of the retreat planning. 

TeamOut caters to various retreat needs, including accommodation, food, activities, and transportation, ensuring a seamless experience for companies looking to enhance team building and productivity through unique retreat experiences.

Key features: 

  • Venue sourcing and recommendations
  • Negotiation of quotes for accommodations and services
  • Planning and organizing meals, activities, and transportation
  • Options for self-service or full concierge planning
  • Support throughout the retreat planning process

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Ligiya Mamikonyan

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