It’s been almost a year since we were all told to stay at home. And while we’ve all been wondering when will in-person events make a comeback, event profs agree that it’s time we adjust to the changes that were thrust upon us. Many didn’t give remote workplace design a thought at first. Since remote work is here to stay, it’s time to bring ourselves up to speed.
In today’s Even Brew, Will, Dustin, Nick, and Thuy talk about their experience working remotely, all things remote workplace design, and how it might impact live events. There’s no shortage of great tips and innovative ideas, so strap yourself in and press play!
Remote Workplace Design Matters!
First, Dustin sets the stage for the conversation. “As people are knocked out of the traditional routine and start to create a home routine, they’re in their own community. You’re not going into a work center or downtown. I think people are going to become homebodies more than they were before. And I think that a lot of the activities that you do are going to be surrounded around this little radius around your house. Because that’s where we’ve been forced to be. And I wonder how much of that will linger and how that’s going to impact attendance in the future.”
No longer do coworkers organically bump into each other throughout the day and organically form relationships. “How do you design something that has maybe not the same impact, but, has something that moves the behavioral change to where you want that to go?”, Nick asks.
“The days of speed dating in court and in the corporate world are long gone. You can’t force connections with people. You can’t put people in a line and say that this is who you need to meet today. I think it’s about creating an environment that naturally fosters that,” Dustin replies. “You need to give people more time than you did before. Networking and those little breaks can’t be 15 minutes anymore because you have to create that time for people to find each other and to connect.”
The Pros and Cons Of Remote Workplace
Thuy talks about her own experience working remotely. It has its perks, too, as long as you follow some remote work tips. “As long as you have your boundaries, I feel like also there’s a level of understanding from across the whole team. If anything, it’s giving me more authentic one one-on-one connections. When I meet with the team, we do everything virtually, but there is this more human side of us where we’re in sweatpants or we’re able just to freely discuss things. What’s going on and and just outside of our work life and making time for that. I really appreciate that.”
Dustin addresses how remote work might change the world as we know it. “The danger in remote working is that once corporations get a taste for it, and once they don’t need you physically anymore, you watch these jobs disappear and go off to other countries real fast.”
Will adds another point. “As companies become more global, it becomes more expensive to bring people all together.” Dustin agrees with him. “As we get more global and as companies can start hiring from anywhere – how are you going to get those opportunities to continue to bring people together? What happens when half of your team is on a completely different time zone, sleeping schedule, work schedule? The opportunity to connect, even virtually, is going to become less and less.”
Remote Workers Meet Conferences
Remotely-based companies rarely see each other in-person. Conferences are a great opportunity for remote workers to finally meet live. Nick expresses the wish “to create space within an existing conference for teams to get together, but separately from the conference.”
“It’s a tremendous expense to take people somewhere. We always plan to do a debrief and share knowledge, but it almost never happens. And when it does, it’s never as impactful as I think it would be if we could just connect while we’re there. I think that’s a great concept. If you are planning travel anyways, why not?”, Dustin adds.
Will expresses his personal wish to have spaces in conferences that resemble an ideal remote workplace design. “High-speed internet, a little bit of a divider so people can be on calls… But then have it close to the space where you can just walk right back into the event.” Dustin wholeheartedly agrees. “The spaces that they’re building are so far away from the action. And they’re so far, like you got to go, you got to hike a mile away to some quiet meeting room. And it’s like, that’s actually not the environment I’m looking for. I want, I still want all the mayhem around me. I just want it to be quiet and I want the internet to be fast. Can you make all that happen for me?”
Remote Workplace Design Could Affect Work Environments
“When I think about the things that COVID will change and we won’t go back, it will be a large segment of the workforce who will get a taste for remote work. That is going to be one of those permanent changes that would have happened anyway,” Nick outlines the big picture. “Human needs are not being met the same way. I think that it falls squarely in the target of designers to consider how that’s going to impact what we do, where the opportunities are, where the deficits are. The way that you’ve been doing business before should be looked at again, considering that this change is something that I think there’s probably no way that won’t stick to a high percentage point”.
“You need to look at how your audience and their environment has changed. What behaviors they have now that they didn’t have before? The things we were doing in the past, they’re likely not going to work in the same way. I’m also curious to see how work environments will change because of this. Is there going to be a push to make the workplace even more enticing to go to?” Dustin asks. “People are going to start emulating more of what it feels like to be at home and less feeling like you’re in an office. And I think that shift has already started, but I think it’s going to accelerate now. The workplace of the post-COVID workplace design is going to continue to be more soft and more home friendly. Which is probably a good shift.”
The conversation then leads to some great remote work tips concentrated around the topic of backdrops. They hold a lot of potential for human connection. Thuy says: “It’s like a portal into their world. I’ve definitely commented and really gotten to know people. I feel like I actually get to know them better. When you’re comfortable in your home working environment, you’re more genuine and authentic to who you are.”
Nick immediately sees an intentional design opportunity “to guide team members to create their zoom backdrop of their homes to tell stories”. Dustin agrees that remote workplace design is becoming increasingly important. “The days of just throwing on the camera, wherever you are – we need to get past that. We need to get comfortable with the place that we’re in. I’ve got lots of clients that have an interest in helping their employees get set up to feel good and look good and have the right things and the right lighting. It does make a difference to the overall experience and makes them feel good about what it is that they’re doing.”
Will is the king of backdrops. “My shelves that are now behind me became so iconic that people would also comment on my cardboard cutouts of superheroes. Then, it became Funko pops. I started putting them up and then people started commenting on it.”
Nick drives the point home. “I really want to see if there’s a way that we can make an impact to create more human backdrops and more human designs that help bring people together and break down walls in a way that short meetings don’t. Just that flavor of humanity that we’re desperately craving right now. Just give me something I can comment on, you know?”
Trust Fosters Connections
Nick concludes the conversation by drawing attention to where the value of events lies. “The acceleration of trust keeps coming up as one of those things that is vitally important to coming together. In a deficit of coming together physically, we have to find ways to accelerate trust more. And that usually is through shared connections.”
What better way to connect than through your awesome remote workplace design, right?