Meeting Innovation: Inspiring Remote Team Collaboration at Your Big Daddy Conference

Telecommuting and flexible work arrangementsInterest in telecommuting and flexible work arrangements continues to rise, with nothing but growth on the horizon. oDesk just released its Fall 2012 Online Work Survey. In this global study of 2,800+ businesses, they captured forecasts for hiring and the future of work.

Two key findings caught my eye:

  • 94% agreed with the statement: "Within 10 years, the majority of businesses will have blended teams of online and on-premise workers."
  • 95% agreed that in the future, getting hired will be "more dependent on having the right skills than on location."

If you're designing meetings for the future (2022 isn't that far away), these are important findings that demand attention. Why?

The flexible work revolution isn't coming. It's already here.

According to Forrester, 34 million Americans already enjoy some type of flex work arrangement and telecommuting is expected to rise to 43% of the U.S. workforce by 2016.

I'm part of a small but mighty team where we all work from homes hundreds of miles apart. The lion's share of our travel is wrapped around client meetings and industry events. Whenever possible, we try to catch an early morning or after hours meet-up, because those face-to-face conversations are priceless. (Unfortunately, my brain isn't at its best in early morning and late night hours, but hey, I'll take what I can get.)

I recall one occasion when we were all at an industry event and our best "a-ha" discovery happened while we were huddled at a taco stand. Too bad they didn't have a whiteboard.

It's time to embrace (& deliver) remote team collaboration at our conferences.

Look at any conference brochure and it's all about big-session learning and high-velocity networking. Understandably so -- those are the two primary attendee expectations for conferences. But what if...

  • You encouraged organizations to send entire teams to your conference. That's right, 20, 30, 40, or 50 people.
  • You helped these teams zero in on conference learning sessions at your conference that closely align with the most critical problems they need to solve... and then... (wait for it)...
  • You provided a private meeting space where teams could gather, compare notes about what they're learning at the big conference, and immediately discuss how they might apply those new discoveries to solve their problems and drive better results. (Cue whiteboard)
  • Imagine if remote teams could toggle back and forth between the big-daddy industry conference experiences and smaller, more intimate team strategy pow-wows.
  • Provide a turnkey team meeting option, where teams can go big and go small. Provide a team meeting concierge who will handle all requests for food & beverage, audio-visual, whiteboards, etc. in their private meeting space. In fact, this concierge should be committed to help teams get maximum value from their TOTAL conference experience. Do this well and companies will pay big bucks for this experience. They need it and they know it.

While the global workplace continues to explore blended work options, isn't it time we planners started exploring blended conference experience options?

To learn more, read Connection: The Heart of Events and Meetings and When Co-Workers Hang Out Together at Conferences.

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