Will virtual events survive (or thrive) in the new normal?

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

STAFF EVENTS: Over 2020 and 2021, staff events have been forced online, but often with unexpectedly strong engagement and team-building results — so will the format continue in less challenging times?

Adam Piperdy, founder of events planning firm Unearthed Productions, believes virtual and hybrid events will never completely replace physical ones. That’s because while virtual experiences have many benefits, including greater attendance and manageability, they still have their limitations.

Contrary to popular belief, Piperdy says virtual events actually take up just as much effort and financial investment to stage, if not more in some cases. This is due to the sheer amount of content and technology investment required for the virtual format.

“In the past, you could just put a singer up on stage to sing for 30 minutes at a Dinner and Dance, while everyone was midway through an eight-course meal, and no one faults you for that,” he explains. “But now, if you do the same thing for an online event, people will lose interest very quickly.”

Furthermore, physical events still have the edge when it comes to making deeper connections between participants.

“It is in our human nature to connect to somebody else. We still want to connect with other people face to face and interact in person because that’s how we build meaningful relationships.”

As such, Piperdy believes that the success and take-up of hybrid and virtual events remain limited more by Covid-19 restrictions than their own individual appeal — they are a means to an important employee engagement end during these challenging times.

He foresees virtual and hybrid experiences falling from the current peak of making up around 90% of all staff engagement events, to less than 50% once the pandemic situation improves and movement restrictions are eased.

“No matter what it is, so long as it is in humans’ natures to be social, our job as event managers is to make connections happen, whether it is virtual, hybrid or physical events,” he said.

This case study is extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's report on Staff Events and Engagement. For further coverage, and access to the full report, please see any of the below links:

The distanced social: How employers are approaching staff events in 2021 (full report)

Staff events forced to get creative: Chief of Staff report (news highlight) November 2, 2021

Staff events suffer from the ultimate disruption (feature) November 4, 2021

Taking staff events into the virtual stratosphere (feature) November 8, 2021

What's in a theme? Planning, content are keys to virtual event engagement (feature) November 9, 2021 Prudential's PLAYful take on virtual staff engagement (case study) November 10, 2021

Will virtual events survive (or thrive) in the new normal? (feature) November 11, 2021

Five tips to elevate your virtual staff event (Tips for HR) November 12, 2021

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