Is there still a place for virtual events, in a post-pandemic workplace? With terms like hybrid and agile becoming part of our everyday vernacular, influencing both culture and connection within agencies, it’s surely worth asking the question right? Global Projects and Culture Manager Beverley Collins takes a look.
Last month we held our annual Global Virtual Conference; the second time we’ve brought our global network together using a virtual platform. Born out of the pandemic, the event is a way for us to curate connections between offices and engage our network in a meaningful way. We aim to offer learning opportunities that inspire our people, showcase the best of We Are Social, while creating a fun experience, all in the wild west of the metaverse.
For the second year running, the conference was hosted on the immersive, virtual world platform Virbela. Using our knowledge of the platform and experience from last year, we worked to set up a space that would truly bring our 2022 theme “Ideas worth talking about” to life.
So what did we do differently for our 2022 virtual conference?
This time, we wanted to encourage participation from our network. In a nod to TedX, we invited employees to present eight-minute talks about any subject they’d like. The only catch? They had to be experts on the topic and passionate about it.
On the day we heard from fourteen different speakers spanning across our offices, with topics ranging from neurodiversity, to sustainability, art and creativity.
We also wanted to showcase the unique culture of our 17 offices across APAC, EMEA and North America, so we set up our very own mini expo for people to visit. The expo served as a place to network and learn about key parts of our business; with agency showcase reels that highlighted each office’s people and work, truly capturing their spirit.
We also welcomed internal initiatives such as our Global Learning & Development and Information Security teams to host a stand and speak to employees on these important topics.
Creativity is at the heart of what we do, and with so many talented people in our network, we wanted to give everyone the chance to showcase their artistic capabilities. Creating a Gallery, we ran a network-wide collection for art made by our teams. We were inundated by amazing pieces that our colleagues sent in from all over the world. The first ever We Are Social virtual art exhibition was born.
This year we introduced a virtual Arcade, using browser-based games, to highlight the importance of gaming in the social landscape. And for those in need of a bit of peace and quiet, the forest campfire offered mindfulness meditation.
The day’s agenda kicked off with a keynote from our Group CEO and co-founder Nathan McDonald, who took a look back at how far we had come since the last conference and took us through our plans for the future.
Throughout the day, in between hearing from our internal experts, taking speedboat rides and discovering the world via a treasure hunt, we also gathered to hear from an amazing lineup of external speakers; Karina Hollekim, Bokani, and Brian Whipple, Board Chair of our parent company, Plus Company.
To cap off the day and because no We Are Social event is complete without a dance party, we had a set by the incredibly talented DJ Will Gill, whose skills as a virtual DJ are second to none. It wasn’t long before you forgot you weren’t actually on a real dance floor, with some major shapes being thrown.
So, is there still a place for virtual events in today’s workplace? Undoubtedly yes. Connection comes in all shapes and sizes. We may not easily be able to gather our 1200+ strong global team IRL but what we have discovered is that there is an exciting space where almost anything is possible and fun, engagement and learning are only limited by our imagination.
Until next year metaverse!