The pandemic brought about long term changes in the ways employees communicate, travel, and attend events. While video conferencing existed before COVID-19, pandemic lockdowns proliferated its use beyond all prediction. More than allowing teams to communicate, video conferencing allowed professional seminars to happen when most travel came to a halt. In 2020, 70% of physical events switched to hybrid or virtual. It was the only choice available besides cancellation.
The Move to Digital Platforms
Over 2 years after the pandemic began, digital events continue to happen all over the world. 40% of events are planned as virtual ones. 35% are planned to be hybrid, combining physical and virtual components. Digital events have taken the place of a lot of business travel. 42% of frequent business travelers say they hope never to return to the road. Since the pandemic, business travel’s share is no longer hotels’ majority source of revenue. Digital engagement platforms are making it possible for business to continue.
Instead of reserving hotel conference halls, organizers are hosting on digital platforms. Both Zoom and Microsoft Teams saw their popularity explode during the pandemic. Zoom hosted 45 billion minutes of webinars in 2020. Teams saw their number of annual users grow 13.5 times from 2019 to 2022.
Businesses appreciate virtual events for many reasons. Because employees don’t need to travel to reach them, 46% of businesses are able to reduce travel and commute time. By hosting and attending virtual events, businesses can cut travel costs by 30%. These savings in time and resources give employees the chance to complete other tasks. Video conferences can increase productivity by 89%. Unlike phone calls, video calls don’t leave much room for multitasking. This means participants are more likely to focus on the content of the presentation during a video call.
Despite all these benefits, virtual events bring their own challenges. Poorly designed digital platforms can frustrate users. Half of the employees who use video conferencing report frequent technology issues. Be it internet connectivity, audio glitching, or even lags, minor problems can generate major frustrations.
Bringing it all Together
Even when the technology itself runs smoothly, too much can leave users unnaturally fatigued. The participant’s face sizes and excessive eye contact during video chats are both unnatural. Always seeing everyone else in the meeting can create a stressful experience. Moreover, seeing oneself in real time for what can be hours in a video chat is draining. Constantly looking at one’s reflection increases self-criticism. The best virtual events account for and mitigate these issues.