The business world has been consistently changing over the past decades. Advancements in technology have changed the landscape, but the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered the corporate world. One specific change revolves around how corporate events are held.
As businesses learned how to navigate the “new normal” of the pandemic, they shifted to a virtual workplace and had to adopt virtual corporate events. In this guide, you’ll learn the power of a virtual corporate event, some benefits, and how to run your own event today.
DEFINITION OF VIRTUAL CORPORATE EVENTS
Virtual corporate events are online gatherings organized by businesses to create a sense of unity, encourage team building, and maintain a healthy, productive work environment. These events range from professional meetings and conferences to recreational activities and interactive sessions designed for entertainment and bonding.
A simple example is looking at a team Happy Hour — instead of going in-person to a bar after work together, the team will go on Zoom and enjoy their cocktails together. The event itself is simply being held digitally instead of in a face-to-face situation.
Rise in Popularity and Adoption of Virtual Events
The increased popularity and adoption of virtual events are largely due to the shift towards remote work. Since offices are going digital, corporate gatherings have to follow suit.
With a distanced workforce, it’s even more important to have events that build camaraderie between coworkers — something that’s done by default when an office space is shared.
Often, it’s a Zoom-hosted event that allows the office to come together.
Traditional vs. Virtual Events
Traditionally, corporate events involved physical gatherings, which also involved significant logistical planning, higher costs, and geographic limitations. In contrast, virtual events use technology that streamlines the whole process. Now, companies can engage their remote teams in a more inclusive, cost-effective, and flexible manner.
BENEFITS OF VIRTUAL CORPORATE EVENTS
Virtual corporate events can offer many different benefits. These range from providing greater accessibility to fostering a more inclusive environment and reducing logistical challenges. Let’s review some of the more prominent benefits of virtual corporate events as compared to traditional events.
Global Accessibility and Inclusivity
Virtual events make geographical barriers irrelevant, allowing team members worldwide to participate. This global accessibility fosters inclusivity, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to be part of the event.
This is a huge selling point for any company that has multiple locations, especially ones that are international. At the click of a button, coworkers from across the globe can come together for an event.
Cost-Effectiveness/Reduced Logistical Challenges
Virtual events significantly cut down on the costs associated with venue rentals, travel, accommodation, and catering, associated with physical events. Additionally, they reduce logistical challenges as events can be organized and executed from the comfort of one’s home.
There is no more need to rent an area, pay for food, or even pay for travel costs. How much money can that save a company each year?
Virtual events also offer increased flexibility. Attendees can join from anywhere and anytime, making it convenient for individuals across different time zones. This flexibility extends to event planning as well, where activities can be easily adapted or changed as required.
Going back to the international example, this added flexibility can allow for convenient events. These events can be hosted in the evening or on weekends, and anyone can join thanks to the flexibility of programs like Zoom.
By incorporating features like real-time polling, Q&A sessions, and breakout rooms, virtual events can enhance participant engagement. All of these features are available on different event programs, allowing the host to make the event even more engaging.
These features greatly help during traditional meetings, but they do even more during virtual corporate events. Everyone on the call will have their own voice and ability to participate.
CONSIDERATIONS OF CORPORATE VIRTUAL EVENTS
While virtual corporate events offer many advantages, there are factors to consider in order to ensure their success:
- Technology Issues: While technology empowers virtual events, it also brings with it potential issues such as connectivity problems and software glitches. These glitches are inevitable, so you should take any disruptions in stride.
- Meaningful Connections: Creating meaningful connections virtually can be a challenge. Therefore, events need to be designed in a way that encourages interaction and relationship-building. This is perhaps the biggest challenge for any event coordinator.
- Maintaining Engagement: It is easier for participants to get distracted in a virtual setting. They might have kids running around the room, pets to tend to, or any number of distractions around their laptop. How can you combat this? Creating interactive and engaging events ensures that participants don’t get bored and distracted during the event.
- Effective Communication: Clear and concise communication is crucial to keep the audience engaged and convey the intended message. It’s also important to clearly communicate when the event will take place, how to access it, and what is expected from the participants during the event (if anything).
- Speaking to the Right Audience: Understanding your audience and tailoring your event to their interests and needs is key to ensuring a successful and engaging virtual event. Hosting an online yoga event might not be a good fit for a staff that’s not into fitness.
EXAMPLES OF VIRTUAL CORPORATE EVENTS
Since the COVID-19 lockdowns started, there have been a number of unique virtual corporate events held worldwide. To inspire your team, here are a number of popular examples of virtual corporate events that you might consider.
Trivia sessions can be both informative and fun. They can be themed around your industry, general knowledge, or any other topic of interest. Online, you’ll find countless trivia questions to use, or you can come up with your own.
Virtual scavenger hunts can stimulate creativity and teamwork. Participants can be given a list of items or clues and tasked with finding them within their home environment. For instance, you might ask participants to find a purple item, something electronic, and something that reminds them of the 80s. Having more vague or general prompts will allow for more creative answers.
Virtual murder mystery games can be an exciting way to engage teams, encouraging problem-solving and collaboration. There are pre-built scripts for murder mysteries available online, or you can write your own.
Yoga or Workout Class
A virtual yoga or workout class can be a great way to promote wellness and reduce stress. You can either bring in your own fitness instructor or simply watch a yoga video together as a group and follow along.
Virtual bingo games can bring a sense of fun and competition to your corporate event. Bingo is a timeless game that’s really easy to play, so it can interest a wide range of different people. Consider offering some sort of prize for the winners.
An online cooking class, perhaps featuring a guest chef, can be a fun and interactive experience allowing for a shared meal (albeit virtually).
A virtual happy hour provides a relaxed environment for team members to interact and unwind. These can either be alcoholic or non-alcoholic events, where the participants bring their own drinks to their computer and socialize.
Online Office Games
Games that can be easily played online, such as Pictionary or charades, can bring a sense of fun and relaxation to a corporate event.
Show and Tell
A virtual show-and-tell session can help team members get to know each other better on a personal level. This grown-up version of a classic childhood game can be exciting.
Comedic, Theater, or Art Show
Inviting performers to put on a virtual show can provide entertainment and a shared experience for the team. These performers can either be hired professionals or aspiring performers from inside your organization. Make sure the subject matter is appropriate for your group of employees, so you might need to vet the comedian’s content before hiring them.
A Hosted Game Show
A game show hosted by a team member or a hired host can bring excitement and healthy competition to your corporate event. Again, consider adding a prize for the winner.
Tailor an event to the unique interests and hobbies of your team. For example, if your team has a shared interest in reading, you could organize a virtual book club.
BEST PRACTICES FOR A SUCCESSFUL CORPORATE VIRTUAL EVENT
Running a successful corporate event comes with a number of best practices. Consider the following tips if you want to make the most out of your next event.
- Clear Objectives and Purpose: Having clear objectives for your event is crucial. Whether it’s boosting team morale, fostering collaboration, or sharing important updates, your event should have a clear purpose.
- Organization/Utilization of Tools: Use tools and software that are reliable and easy to use. Ensure all participants have access to and understand how to use these tools to prevent technical difficulties during the event. Zoom and Teams are two of the more popular programs to host your virtual corporate event on.
- Interactivity and Relationship-Building Opportunities: Another best practice is to design your event to be as interactive as possible to engage participants. Provide opportunities for relationship building, so your team will have a sense of unity.
- Keep it Professional, But Encourage Fun: Since these are corporate events, they need to be professional, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make them fun as well. A casual and enjoyable atmosphere can help to break down barriers and encourage more genuine interactions. If employees feel like they’re still “on the clock”, they can act reserved and the bonding experience might not work as well.
- Focus on Bonding and Collaboration: Your event should promote bonding and collaboration among team members. In the end, this is the goal for any virtual corporate event. Encourage participation from all attendees to ensure everyone feels included and valued.
- Pick the Right Time: Choosing the right time for your event is essential. Take into account the different time zones of your team members and try to pick a time that is convenient for most. It’s okay to have a virtual corporate event during working hours, so employees can get paid to have fun — otherwise, it might be tough to get full attendance if a virtual event is an unpaid time in people’s busy schedules.
MAKING A HIGH-QUALITY EVENT TAKES PRACTICE AND LEARNING
Creating a high-quality and engaging virtual event is not an easy task. It requires careful planning, creativity, and understanding of bringing a unique group of people together and helping them bond.
That’s where further education can help. At Johnson & Wales University (JWU), we offer an MBA in Event Leadership that can equip you with the skills needed to lead and organize successful events.
The course covers various topics, including event planning, risk management, and event technology. This knowledge can help you avoid common pitfalls, like picking the wrong program to host the event, poor planning, or a lack of interactive elements that could lead to an unsuccessful event.
The transition to virtual corporate events is a learning curve for many organizations, but with the right education and tools from our MBA program, you can make events that are both engaging and successful.
Virtual corporate events offer a unique way to connect and engage with team members, particularly in the age of remote work. While they come with their own set of challenges, their benefits in terms of cost-effectiveness, accessibility, and flexibility are unparalleled.
For those looking to hone their event planning skills, consider pursuing an MBA in Event Leadership from JWU.