When Your Company Goes Hybrid
Tactics for Virtual and In Person Events
Why hello there! It has been a little bit since my last blog post as I have been deep in some projects that compliment my love for events and hosting and everything sparkly. But I am back and ready to talk employee happiness strategy!
Let’s get into it.
With so many people heading back into the office this March, myself and Office Together decided to chat survival and creativity for those that work in Internal Operations. Here are some slides from the webinar and some key points we hit. Will add the Webinar recording when it comes out if you prefer to listen in.
Some tricks to filter all your hybrid events through.
- Have a color coding system to differentiate whether an event is in person, hybrid or remote. Always over communicate that an event is coming up. People forget!
- Utilize a calendar technology like Office Together so that colleagues can be updated when others go into the office. When the office has the promise of other colleagues popping in on the same day, it will snowball into more people interested in going into the office, which equals more people attending your in person events.
2. Office Function: Make the office feel like the best place to be. When people travel into the office it needs to function for the new hybrid working situation. If the office is desirable, it can be a place to pivot into an in person event even if the event isn’t held in the office, but in the same city/town as the office.
- Phone booths and quiet working areas for colleagues to take meetings with their remote coworkers who aren’t going into the office.
- Collaborative spaces with lounge seating, rolling white boards and screens for a social setting that doesn’t feel stifling.
Assess what styles will work for those going into the office when you do your surveys and 1/1s with your colleagues. If the office is now a hub, that hub has to be inviting if you want people to choose to be there.
3. Timezones: When planning events in person, you may need to consider that your remote workforce isn’t in the same timezone as your in person event. This is just a point to reiterate that not every event needs to be 100% compatible with everyones schedule. You can oscillate what events are good for certain timezones and take turns optimizing each timezone. And you can also host the same event twice, but at different times. Or if it is a speaking event/all hands, record it and share.
Get Your Colleagues Excited and Participating
1. Event Stacking: My favorite method for engagement is what I like to call “event stacking.” This is when you take an already existing get together and begin attaching things onto it. Say for example that you have an office and some people go to the office and some people are remote. You know next month that a bunch of execs will all be in the office at the same time for a board meeting or a company planning meeting. As people find out about this they may schedule 1/1 in person time with an exec and slowly there seems to be a building in excitement for people to go into the office that week. This is when you know you need to leap in and plan some fun activities since so many people are in town.
Event stacking can work in the opposite direction as well. If you plan an epic event or experience to be held in person and you encourage people to attend in person, it might begin to attract others to also go into the office (or offsite retreat location) at the same time in order to attend the event you are planning. Therefore allowing them the chance to plan their own small get togethers, team meetings and 1/1s.
2. Something to look forward to:
For those that are remote, there may be an element of feeling left out. They aren’t going to have the snacks in the kitchen, or the spontaneous chats in the hallways. You may send snack boxes and try to do some sort of Slack bot that assigns you to someone to chat with, but there may be an element that needs to be addressed such as: humans want to be with humans in person.
This could be a good opportunity to think about the events budget and see if there is a way to get remote employees all together. Whether it is a conference or a meetup or a holiday party or a corporate retreat. Adding something to the calendar that your remote employees can look forward to in order to join their in person colleagues in the coming months.
I would encourage you to also help plan offsites in locations where you may not have an office, however, have a large employee base. Say you look at your HR data and you see a bunch of colleagues live in Kansas City. You can help organize an offsite for those that live there to all come together, even without there being an office in that location.
Specific event ideas you can pull out of your pocket in the early stages of hybrid event planning.
- Get to know each other again. As you head back into the office, for some people this will be their first time in the office if they were hired during the pandemic. Your first week back should have resources for your employees to get to know each other again and get to know the office. Here are some ideas.
- Name tags and games the first week
- Tours of the office
- Introducing people to one another. New Hire Social?
- Scheduling time to go over new protocols with everyone
Remember: Create day time events in a non intrusive way. People may not have the stamina to stay at the office all day, so creating moments of fun like an ice-cream social or a special lunch surprise is a great way to get people to chat without feeling like they need to stay a full day at the office
An end-of-week happy hour in which remote people can live stream in and get a tour of the office virtually, thus inspiring them to come to the office at some point.
Using a program like Gather Town will allow you to create a virtual lay down office map that is also interactive. That way remote colleagues can pop in to say hello as if they are in the office too.
2. Having structured events: Speaker Series, lunch and learns, and workshops are great for in person and virtual streaming simultaneously. Because this is an event you can attend in person and be streaming at the same time from home in which you are part of the experience because the time is structured and you are all learning together. In this scenario, be sure to have someone that moderates the zoom chat with questions for the in person speaker. And if you have food at the office for this event, be sure to give remote workers a food stipend or send out a food box.
3. Appreciation Day or Spirit Week: As we head back to the office, there will be a lot of excitement and energy in the air! To encourage a solid start to the process, a Spirit Week or an Appreciation Day is the perfect way for people to have fun and also honor each other. It is also very easy to engage remote workers that cant be there because both examples mix opportunities for initiatives and sessions that are easily enjoyed by in person and remote. Check out this blog post on the details of planning an Employee Appreciation Day!
Please look out for a listicle on all the types of events that work for a hybrid office. Coming soon!
Hit me up with your specific event questions! Love trouble shooting together. Chat soon. firstname.lastname@example.org
Events Book coming out this summer! Can’t wait to share with you all ❤