Technology allows more people and businesses to operate in an online and off-site environment. Workers like the flexibility and companies enjoy the lower cost and higher productivity of remote offices.
Yet this can create an environment of isolation that workers are sometimes eager to escape from. It's no surprise remote workers--especially millennials who make up more of the offsite workforce--want to attend conferences. They may desire a remote lifestyle, but also thrive with in-person interaction and the chance to stimulate their minds. They want to converse, learn something new, and have an experience.
In fact, a 2017 survey from Eventbrite found that 71 percent of adults agree that attending live events makes them feel more connected to other people, the community, and the world.
Investing in conferences for your team--both remote and in-office--goes beyond choosing an event based on a program's theme or list of speakers. For conferences to truly satisfy your team, they have to engage on all levels.
Here are five tips for choosing the right event for your offsite team members:
1. Choose an event in a unique setting.
More event organizers are trying to host their events in interesting settings like historical places or an airplane hangar. Even resorts can offer something beyond the typical conference environment. Look for places that will get your team excited to attend and provide a one-of-a-kind experience.
2. Look for programs that create FOMO.
People don't want to be talked at. Look for programs that play up FOMO--the fear of missing out--like ones that are augmented with live streaming or live demonstrations. These are the kind of events that people will talk about later and attendees don't want to be left out.
3. Find events that are highly interactive.
People want more interaction at conferences and are looking for programs that devote most of the time to Q&A sessions. Also, they will take advantage of anything they can connect with social media, so see if conferences offer engagement like live polling, live tweeting, and conference hashtags, as well as hands-on learning,
Of course, you don't have to pay for formal conferences to help your remote teams have the same stimulating experiences. For instance, you could do the following:
4. Consider creating your own event.
Think about how your business could host its own mini-conference. For example, every year, my yoga studio hosts an anniversary celebration. The one-day event ties our customers and internal team to the business, so like-minded individuals can interact, as well as learn something new.
For example, besides hosting special free classes to members at this event, we provide food that is based on Ayurveda (a mind-body healing practice that matches care based on people's individual make up). We also host singing bowl demonstrations, so people can experience something new related to their yoga practice. It's a way to share other aspects of the business and allow them to discover something they otherwise wouldn't know about in a fun way.
5. Add off-site experiences.
Instead of paying for workers to attend conferences, set up your own off-site experiences that blends fun and teamwork. For instance, I have had teams attend a group painting class, cooking classes, and escape rooms where they have to solve a series of puzzles and riddles from clues and objects in a room in order to "escape." The goal here is to find something that stimulates their mind and satisfies their quest for learning, as well as provide them a way to interact in new ways and see how they best work together.
Never underestimate the desire of people wanting to come together to interact. As helpful as video chat and virtual programs are for remote teams to stay connected throughout the year, the energy of in-person experiences can never be replaced people's innate need for human connection. Investing in your team to attend more conferences is another way to help them grow and reach their potential and feel more connected to the business.