Attending Work Events

Will We Be Attending Work Events in Person or Virtually Going Forward?

Over the last few years, we’ve all become quite accustomed to attending conferences virtually. While there are some advantages to this (no expensive travel costs!), there’s nothing quite like being in person to learn and network. Fortunately, it looks like live conferences are making a comeback.  Just to name a few … HR Tech, Unleash, Cornerstone’s Convergence, Fuel50’s FuelX, etc.  

But not everyone wants to go back to in-person events only.  According to a recent LinkedIn poll I conducted, the highest percentage of people want to attend work events in 2023 offered as hybrid (58%) versus in person (39%) or virtually only (3%). Hybrid was popular because you can choose to attend in person or virtually based on your budget, preference, and schedule. 

Live conferences offer opportunities that you just can’t get virtually.  

There are so many benefits to live conferences.  Unleash in Paris is a great example of all that a live conference can offer – from meeting people in person, to networking in intimate settings, to learning opportunities.    

You get to meet people in person and build relationships that can be beneficial both professionally and personally.  Aleksandra Szymanowicz-Siwiec, Country People & Culture Director at bp, shared that “this was my first #UnleashWorld but I hope it was not the last. I love the formula of an HR conference and HR Tech expo! There is so much I learned attending a variety of sessions, but also networking and meeting HR Tech companies and getting inspired by learning what they do. My head (and notebook) are full of new ideas! Unleash is an excellent place to be for P&C/HR people!” 

You’re able to network in a more intimate setting and really get to know other professionals.  Hannah Smith, Associate Director – Talent Development Lead, shared that she had “an amazing few days in Paris at the UNLEASH HR conference. I attended some thought provoking sessions and was able to network with some of the best thought leaders in HR.” Her highlight was at a private Gloat event where she was in the spotlight to share her experience implementing a Talent Marketplace.  These types of experiences stay with people, and they share the experience beyond the event. 

There’s something to be said for being able to attend workshops and learning opportunities in person rather than trying to attend them virtually.  Aaron Green, Chief Marketing & Solutions Officer at SAP SuccessFactors, commented on LinkedIn after Unleash in Paris, “Another great week of inspiring conversations about changing work for good with some incredible people.”  It must have been an experience sharing the stage with Chris Havrilla and Larry McAlister for a conversation about the role of People & Culture leaders in a post-pandemic world.  Those two have high energy!  You can feel it virtually, so I imagine you become it, too, when in person. 

Virtual conferences are not going away. 

Even though live conferences are making a comeback, that doesn’t mean that virtual conferences are going away. In fact, many conferences are now offering hybrid options so that attendees can choose whether they want to attend in person or virtually. This gives you the best of both worlds and allows you to attend the conference that makes the most sense for you and your schedule. 

For example, Gloat is hosting its conference as hybrid with an invite-only in-person gathering (Gloat Live November 2nd and 3rd).  This is a much appreciated way to invest time to network, share, and dig deeper alongside other thought leaders on workforce agility and talent marketplace. 

Earlier this year, I attended Eightfold’s Cultivate virtually in their hybrid offering. I felt like I was in the audience for the opening keynote by Ashutosh Garg, CEO and CO-Founder. It was so inspiring to be apart of it.  I still refer to my notes about understanding your market and talent needs to tap into your talent network. 

I also attended Visier’s Outsmart virtually in their hybrid offering.  Steve Cadigan kicked us off with high energy! He led a conversation about the dramatic transformation of the psychology of the workforce. He challenges us to build a new talent agenda.  Ian Cook made us rethink how to guide action and elevate contributions of managers with people analytics.  Greg Till and Mark Smithare influencing business results. They shared insights into how HR and people analytics leaders can effectively collaborate with C-suite leaders. 

Wrapping Up 

 Are you ready to start attending live conferences again? I sure am!  There’s just something about being in person that can’t be beat—especially when it comes to networking and building relationships. But the lesson learned, is that a hybrid conference offering is attractive to more people. 

 With virtual reality becoming more commonplace, will we begin to see more work events taking place in a virtual setting?  

  • How can marketing professionals create a truly immersive experience for potential customers through virtual reality?  
  • Are there any dangers associated with conducting work events in a virtual environment?  
  • Can virtual reality help to build stronger relationships between businesses and their customers?  
  • How important is it for businesses to create an engaging VR experience for their customers? 

Are you planning a hybrid event for next year?  I would love to learn about it!  Please share your story with us.    

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