Conferences are developing a new and renewed importance for building connections as a higher percentage of the workforce is remote, more than ever before.
- About 26% of U.S. workers are remote workers and 16% of U.S. companies are fully remote, as of 2022.
- As we’ve previously reported, many workers prefer working from home as no commuting, greater connection to family, and other conveniences make it more beneficial.
- Workers need connections and interactions, which are difficult to recreate through video-conferencing calls and chat rooms.
- In-person conferences are beginning to fill the void, by allowing for more frequent in-person interactions, networking opportunities, and immersive activities.
Why it’s News
Rani Molla, a senior correspondent with Vox Media, attended the 2022 Web Summit Conference in Lisbon in November. She says events like this are evolving to adjust to the need for more social interaction, “turning conferences into immersive, interactive social events.”
“Conferences are for networking, socializing with colleagues or peers in your field, and getting experiences you can’t get working remotely. They see conferences as supplementing their ability to work from home: Hanging out with colleagues and clients in person a few times a year can be enough to carry them through months on end of video calls,” she says.
“The thirst for in-person events demonstrates that people are missing something when they work from home.”
Conferences, company retreats, and other gatherings may provide the solution for improving creativity, communication, morale, and company cohesiveness that fully remote workers often struggle with achieving when they work outside of the office.
Backing up a Bit
The COVID pandemic and the subsequent popularization of remote and hybrid work have only created more need for connectivity and interaction. Business travel is still down from pre-pandemic levels, but incentivizing in-person conferences is creating opportunities for conference centers to draw back workers who have spent the past two years handling their conferences remotely.
It remains to be seen what role remote and hybrid work is going to have in the near future, as corporations push back against it due to fears of low productivity. Job offerings on LinkedIn for remote work don’t meet the demand for workers who want remote jobs. Workers overwhelmingly prefer remote options though and it may become a permanent option.