With COVID-19, HR teams around the world have never faced so many challenges at one go: managing work arrangement for the largest Work-From-Home exercise in history, settling travels, work pass and virtual onboarding for new hires, and, especially, re-engaging employees from every corner of the world.
As employees say goodbye to fun physical Away Days and trips with colleagues, their yearning for workplace interaction stays. How could we ensure that employees stay close to each other and have the same fair share of fun as they work from home? Or in short, how will a virtual internal event look like and how it may replicate the physical experience as closely as possible?
Hosting a wide spectrum of virtual internal events and team building initiatives through AveLIVE and AveLIVEX, we have a different perspective on this conundrum. While it is true that certain physical experiences are impossible to be replicated, we recognise that, with the right technology and partner, virtual internal events may help you achieve the same impact and so much more.
Building an Inclusive Culture, Wherever You Are
While internal events may vary in objectives, they all share a common goal - to ensure that all employees in the company feel involved, in a decision, an update or a fun activity. Before COVID times, our notion of inclusivity is simple: we just need them to all be at the same place during that all hands, kickoff or team building exercise. When everyone has turned up, we would say no one is left out.
However, as much as salespersons cater their pitches to different clients, HR team also need to visualise and imagine each employee as a unique customer who has different needs and personalities. Inclusivity is not just about turning up (especially when they were forced to) but also about how engaged they are during the event. Some may feel left out even being present at a team building event when they are unable to gel with others or speak up their minds. On the contrary, for employees who were unable to come for such a physical event even if they wanted to, they would inevitably feel left out or "fomo" (fear of missing out).
Some may feel excluded even when they are present at an internal team building event |
Virtual internal events, however, bring a fresh perspective into inclusivity. For more introverted employees who are shy or have reservation about expressing their thoughts verbally, the online platform allows them to still network, share their opinions through chats, comments, emojis, questions and many other non-verbal means (as we have mentioned, the right technology and partner is important). In fact, research has also shown that it is easier for one to open up to strangers behind the screen than face-to-face.
The online forum also removes physical boundaries and opens the event up to employees around the world, connecting larger teams based across different countries. And for some companies that record their virtual event or training, employees could go back and catch up on the content in their own time.
From our experience hosting a 1,500-pax internal kickoff for an MNC with employees based in 4 different countries and time zones on AveLIVE, transiting the event online enables teams in Myanmar to connect through networking, post questions and engage live with presenters from Norway and other regions. The virtual event site also stays for another 3 days for employees to enjoy the activities even post-event and catch up on their favourite live performances.
AveLIVE enables attendees to chat, network and interact in various means
When it comes to virtual team building, the right technology may also enable the organiser to have role-specific tasks for each player, thus ensuring that everyone has a part to play and the team could not move forward without everyone sharing information and contributing. (Curious how this is possible? Find out more about what our Multi-Player, Multi-Perspective Virtual Escape Room on AveLIVEX can offer here)
All Data is Telling... Only If You Have It
Have you ever organised an internal event and your manager was asking, "What is the impact of your event?"
We have been in your shoes before. It is always challenging to measure something intangible, such as connectedness, fun or a sense of belonging to the company. Post-event surveys are generally hard to administer when everyone is having a bit too much fun and could not bother to find a pen to fill in the paper survey, or take out their phone and spend 5 minutes going through the questions.
What if we tell you that, even without surveys, you are still able to quantify the impact of your work and the event experiences?
Well, the right virtual platform for internal events could help you with that. As a saying goes, "Seeing is believing" - data regarding the interactions from your attendees could paint a more vivid picture than you could imagine!
Data enables event planners to make more informed decisions for subsequent events |
For virtual internal events that we have delivered, analysing the views, time on each page, device used, as well as data from the Livestream Programme and Interactive Corner enabled the event planner to evaluate the different activities to craft a more interesting experience next time.
For example, when we integrate 4 different gamification missions on our platform for one of our delivered events, such as Scavenger Hunt, Page Entry task (give points when they visit certain pages), Virtual Escape Room and Speed Missions, we were able to help the planning committee point out which team building activity is the most engaged or challenging for the participants, as well as any pattern and correlation between the task completion and team size or composition. The data and analysis process enabled both us and the team to better understand the dynamics of the employees to better plan such internal activities in the future.
Less Cost for More
It has finally come to this, but the budget constraints are definitely in the picture for every HR team out there. Everyone wants the experience to be fun and the food to be delicious but there is always a cap that stands in your way from planning that ideal and perfect getaway for the team.
However, when it comes to online, there is always a spectrum of the budget that you may consider for your next virtual event, between paying zero for organising a simple Zoom meeting (especially if your organisation has subscribed to a video conference software), planning a virtual conference with online games and activities through a platform provider, and booking a venue for a hybrid experience (both offline and online engagement of attendees).
While it is true that for different purposes, your costs may differ, for the same purpose, the online sphere may offer more savings and convenience in planning. Concerns such as transport booking or safety issues are out of the picture - you just need to focus on the activity, and it only. For larger conferences that involve employees across the world, save some of that flight, hotel, auditorium booking costs for studio booking, recording and virtual event platform, and you may still find that there are plenty of extras you could tap on for the next initiative.
For us, costing for a virtual event platform could also be very flexible depending on your needs and the features you would like to have. As we transit from an offline Event Tech Show 2019 (an event technology exhibition we organised at Zouk Singapore - find out more here) to our virtual Event & Tech Show 2020 last year, not only did we manage to save venue, F&B as well as manpower costs, we also reached a wider audience and invested some of these cost savings into enhancing the virtual experiences by collaborating with Spring Forest Studio, our green screen studio partner. These learnings enabled our team to perfect our virtual event offerings while at the same time, planning for hybrid packages between our platform AveLIVE and our venue partners network on Avenevv. Stay tuned for more updates on this!
Our collaboration with Spring Forest Studio for a hybrid experience during Event & Tech Show 2020.
Two Roads Diverged in the Yellow Wood... and Converged Again
All in all, this article is, by no means, arguing that virtual internal events are more superior to physical ones.
As BOTH a virtual event platform provider and a physical venue marketplace, we have seen, organised and supported a wide spectrum of both offline and online internal initiatives, and have come to appreciate the merits and shortcomings of both avenues. However, to HR teams that are still hesitant towards new means of virtually engaging your employees (beyond the free zoom meetings), we would like to share with you the possibilities to further your virtual event impact and re-imagine interaction and team building in the new age. And maybe, just maybe, in the future, what we perceive as innovative here would become the norm, and soon enough, hybrid internal events would rise as the next trend in employee engagement.