Your business must go on.
But in what may be the start of a new normal for companies worldwide, your workforce is likely remote to prevent transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
The good news: you’re not alone. Globally, employers are implementing social distancing practices at the workplace. These include reducing the number of employees in the office, asking employees to work from home, prohibiting access to common areas within offices, restricting office visitors, and using virtual environments for communication and collaboration.
And even better news: there’s a wide variety of tools and technology to help virtualize office environments and enable teams to continue to work well collaboratively and simultaneously. A 6Connex Sales War Room, for example, is a fantastic virtual environment that allows sales leaders to check in anytime, anywhere to a digital command center that tracks real-time progress to goals for every business segment. Teams worldwide receive continuous deal updates and alerts, in addition to having access to an easy, virtual way to collaborate on sales activities such as scenario modeling.
Other tools, such as e-Learning, are perfect for training internal teams or customer user groups alike. At 6Connex, our e-Learning environment is user-friendly, easy to set up, and most importantly, available across a wide variety of devices and operating systems to ensure everyone on every device has equal access. Attendees receive real-time feedback during their training course, and management can get up-to-date analyses on how courses are performing, as well as track the progress of individual participants.
And on a day-in, day-out basis, companies can’t beat live event streaming as an online alternative to in-person conferences and meetings. In fact, virtual events,with deliberate planning and excellent facilitation, can be very effective, and 6Connex has been working with customers worldwide to move various AGMs, stakeholder meetings, conferences, and business events online. While the obvious benefit is that these meetings have been able to take place as scheduled, many of our customers have also been pleased to discover that in moving their events to a digital format, there are ancillary advantages including:
So if you, like many, are promoting social distancing and transitioning the meetings and events on your calendar to digital formats, here are three best practices to keep in mind:
1. Pick the right solution.
Virtual events can take many different forms, and the right virtual event provider will have multiple solutions from which to choose. For example, are you hosting a meeting? An event? A training program? When you’re planning an online event, think about what you want your user experience to look like.
If you expect attendees to mostly just listen, a webinar is probably your best option. A webinar format is similar to a lecture or presentation. They’re ideal for sharing content with large audiences and may be open to the public. Typically, webinar attendees do not interact with one another. Though 6Connex provides features like a Q&A and polling to enable additional engagement, your average webinar adopts a ratio of one or two speakers to many attendees.
On the flip side, if you’re inviting a large audience and you’re expecting more back and forth communication between them, a virtual event might be the better option. With a virtual event, you can host interactive sessions and invite lots of audience participation. You can even create an event environment with various “break out rooms,” where participants are assigned to virtual side sessions and can then reconvene for a main meeting.
A web-based video conference most closely resembles a face-to-face meeting and is likely appropriate when the main purpose of your event is real-time, internal communication and collaboration. Participants can connect to the video conference from their desktop or device, and all participants can see and hear each other. Video conferencing is most useful for board meetings, company announcements, and team meetings where it’s critical for participants to see each other, present, and work as a group efficiently.
And if the goal of your meeting or event is training, then an e-Learning platform is probably the way to go. With e-Learning, you’re recreating the classroom environment, complete with characteristics like instructor-student interaction, Q&As, discussions, games, collaborative projects, quizzes, etc., but the instruction takes place online.
2. Be Prepared
Let’s face it: this is a best practice for any meeting regardless of whether it’s taking place in person or online. Create an agenda for your virtual meeting or event and distribute it in advance. (Tip: include it in the calendar invite.) If you’re new to virtual meetings and you’re using a virtual platform for the first time, be sure to take it out for a test drive and make sure there aren’t any connectivity issues. Also, be considerate of attendees’ different time zones and schedule the event at a time that’s reasonable for all participants. The goal is to host an effective event, and if you take time to prepare, chances are your attendees will be prepared as well and you’ll maximize your event ROI.
3. Utilize Interactive Features
No matter which platform you use or event format you choose, be sure to take advantage of all of the engagement features that come with it. For webinars, virtual events, and e-Learning in particular, tools such as chat boxes, Q&As, polls, and more are not only well received by attendees, but they allow you to track participation data so you can see how well your audience is responding to the digital format. And with social distancing required in some states for at least the next three weeks, this data will enable you to improve your digital events for the longer-term.
Options in the Wake of Coronavirus
While in-person interactions and meetings greatly contribute toward building relationships and fostering collaboration, virtual environments can go a long way to replicating this while still enforcing social distancing, whether the goal is internal communication, sharing thought leadership, or training new employees (because some of us are still hiring!).