What Will the Return to Work Look Like?

June 24, 2021

Jon Conelias

Jon Conelias is the CEO of ReElivate. He has been a CFO and Operator for the past 15 years of marketplace companies focused on both B2B and B2C channels.

Nobody can predict the future, but I keep getting asked what the world of events is going to look like after COVID. After speaking with hundreds of individuals responsible for booking, planning and coordinating company events, here are the common themes I hear people reflect on. These insights come from doing hundreds of events during the pandemic and speaking to leaders in human resources, client engagement teams and event planners about how they are planning on returning to a world where we can do business in person once again.

The new normal doesn’t mean we won’t have in-person events, but a time when co-workers came together spontaneously for outings planned at the office after work is in the past for most of us. Employers are restructuring their practices to accommodate in-office and remote employees alike. For example, Hubspot is asking employees to designate whether they will work in headquarters, work remotely full time or prefer a hybrid of those two options. This designation will help their HR department see, at a glance, which working conditions they will need to support. For all-hands meetings, team bonding events and celebrations, hybrid models will be a popular solution out of necessity.

Remote-first company culture isn’t isolated to a few companies. Office leases are still reduced compared to their pre-pandemic levels, understandably so. Over the course of 2020, operating teams made adjustments. On a large scale, many tech, SaaS and service-based companies witnessed how employees remained efficient even in a work-from-home environment. 

In most cases, the elimination of a commute or idle office time actually increased productivity. The popularity of virtual or hybrid meetings and events also means reduced travel expenses and entertainment budgets. These learnings combined with savings from eliminating office space without cramping productivity means there’s potential to decrease the operating budget across multiple line items while increasing efficiency. Remote-first work models could be the stuff corporate dreams are made of.

However solid these reasons are, they do nothing to dispel the reality of Zoom fatigue. We were not meant for eight or more hours of virtual conversations any more than we were meant to stay focused during a day’s worth of in-person meetings.

A good virtual or hybrid event takes into consideration the strain of organic networking over video calls. Entertainment becomes more crucial, as well as brevity and the directness of your message. This need has made hosts or activities for-hire that bookend any event extremely popular. Companies are leveraging entertainers to get people “in the door” and a fun activity or even a game with prizes to ensure attendees stick around. A well-planned virtual event can actually increase in participation. Without having to plan an excursion or post-work pit stop, people have the freedom to stop by, unencumbered by additional planning. This has especially been true for networking events and associations. 

Longer meetings, webinars or all-day events can also benefit from mixing things up by using a portion of the event for networking, presentation and fun. We have seen a 15- or 20-minute break where participants can enjoy a quick class of “Yoga for People Who Work at their Desks” to make everyone’s day a little brighter and the event much more enjoyable, not to mention, more memorable. 

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HERE, hosting responsible meetings and caring for our communities are top priorities. Through its 'Focused on What Matters: Embracing Humanity and Protecting the Planet' philosophy, MGM Resorts commits to creating a more sustainable future, while striving to make an impact in the lives of employees, guests, and the communities in which it operates. Water Stewardship Efforts MGM Resorts understands the importance of using water efficiently, especially in the desert destination of Las Vegas. Conserving water has always been part of the mission, but MGM Resorts has expanded its ambition into water stewardship. In 2022, MGM Resorts President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle signed the CEO Water Mandate—a UN Global Compact initiative mobilizing business leaders to advance water stewardship. MGM Resorts International was the first gaming company to take this important step. MGM Resorts replaced 200,000 square feet of real grass with drought-tolerant landscaping in Las Vegas. MGM Resorts pledges to reduce water withdrawal intensity by 33% by 2025 and by 35% by 2030. From 2007-2021, use of more than 5.6 billion gallons of water was avoided because of conservation efforts. Caring for One Another MGM Resorts’ Food Donations Program collects and preserves unserved food from conventions held at MGM Resorts properties, then safely donates to food insecure people in the community. Since the program’s launch in 2016, more than 3.7 million meals toward a 2025 goal of 5 million meals have been donated into the community. Donations include: Unserved perishable prepared foods from events Perishable unprepared food from MGM Resorts’ kitchens Nonperishable food items from minibars and warehouses The collaboration with Southern Nevada’s primary food bank, Three Square, has developed the infrastructure needed to safely collect, transport, and store food from MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas, reducing food waste while serving the community. Fostering Diversity and Inclusion To MGM Resorts, a diverse and talented workforce is essential to success. By cultivating innovative strategies that consider multiple perspectives and viewpoints, the company creates an inclusive workplace culture that benefits its employees and community. MGM Resorts takes pride in being a welcoming home for veterans, individuals with disabilities, people from diverse backgrounds, LGBTQ+ community members, and more. This commitment to inclusion is reflected in the company's recruitment and hiring practices and its social responsibility initiatives. From the workplace to the community, MGM Resorts' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion remains unwavering, and its efforts continue to create a more equitable and sustainable world for all. MGM Resorts understands its responsibility to contribute to the social and economic progress of the communities in which it operates. HERE, we embrace humanity.