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How events can solve the hybrid workplace divide.

As events slowly emerge with the easing of restrictions, how you interact with employees now impacts your employer brand and how you truly motivate employees.

Now that normal is in sight, with restrictions easing it’s no surprise that people are hoping to return to some sense of normality.

And yet, really surprised to read in recent research this week that 38% of us are planning to resign from our jobs citing a lack of promotions due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s not normality, surely?

There’s no doubt that over the past year organisations have had to cope with enormous change and teams forced to adapt, almost overnight, to remote working which in many cases has led to burnout, disengagement and a dwindling of company culture.

And so now, more than ever, companies must engage authentically with employees, recognise today’s talent is both resourceful and entrepreneurial and, illustrate how employees’ work is making a real difference.

Employers can’t afford to lose top talent and therefore need to prioritise re-engaging and retaining employees.

So, what’s the solution? Events…whether face to face, virtual or hybrid.

It’s apparent that more workers will continue to work remotely, at least part-time, and so leaders must plan on virtual, in-person and hybrid events as a way to bring their people together more frequently and prioritise learning, development and culture.

But rather than returning to the old routine (and as we discuss in a recent blog: Audience expectations are evolving; shaping the future of events...) events must adapt to meet higher expectations and now, surround employees with all that makes its organisation unique.

In particular, organisations should develop events that:

  • Prioritise cultural experiences

Company culture isn’t table tennis tables, bean bags and chai lattes but there’s argument that a large part of company culture is actually physical: the space where the work gets done. Event experiences should recreate the energy of brainstorming sessions, the spontaneous conversations over coffee or that moment when you overhear a colleague ace a client call.

We’re really feeling its absence, we’re missing the energy and being more deliberate about how to maintain company culture will help organisations stay healthy and immediately place a higher value on shared event experiences.

  • Set an agenda to review and adjust ways of working

Dedicate time to work collaboratively, reset expectations and create new ways of working together.

Rapid increases in productivity can be due to positive factors (e.g. fewer distractions during the day - 55% believe colleagues are just as, if not more productive now) or negative ones (e.g. people working far longer hours). Either way, an open forum will generate valuable feedback, expose vulnerabilities and build collaboration and contribution among teams.

Here’s a great example of this in practice.

Our client LHH at a recent virtual ‘all hands’ asked employees “What one positive change, development or activity started during lockdown would you like to see continued in future?”

With more than 200 responses submitted, the organisation can now make the time to evaluate the suggestions and implement new ways of working to meet new norms.

  • Actively listen and respond

Traditional top-down event planning, much like business planning, often fails to connect lower down the chain where the work is performed.

We like to be heard, we seek opportunities to contribute and develop our roles and if the effects COVID-19 pandemic has prevented this, then it’s time organisations actively listen.

True engagement starts with a two-way conversation, so event agendas must respond to employees’ needs with sessions and experiences designed for participation and collaboration.

  • Plan for more events - strategically

One time during a pitch, I remember telling the commercial director client that his plan would fail; that such ambitious plans wouldn’t be realised with one January kick-off event but would stand far greater chance of success if the company re-grouped each quarter, if successive events reinforced key messaging and evaluated employees’ understanding of the strategy and goals.

All-hands, stand-ups, campus events, hackathons... all bring elements of certainty people might be missing and help keep teams informed and involved.

As for the pitch?

We nailed it.

  • Develop off-duty connections

Where fatigue has set in and the lure of online video meetings is at an all-time low, as part of your event programme, where in-person or virtual, consider what we have learned and experienced recently by hosting opt-in virtual cafes, happy hours, wellness sessions, group lunches, etc.

Keep in mind people’s living and working situations and schedules people are juggling continuously and for opt-in events, switch up the times to give more people the opportunities to attend at times and time zones that suit them.

  • Dedicate time for ‘lost rituals’

At the risk of sounding like an Indiana Jones film, some of the elements that have brought employees together have been lost these past months and in future, particularly as we consider ‘hybrid’ connections these can have a galvanising effect.

Find time to share and celebrate wins, milestones, good news, kudos to regain a sense of community and personality to event experiences and ultimately you employer brand and positive company culture.

Have you started to plan an internal events programme for the next 12 months? If not, you might find you’re organising events for 38% fewer colleagues.

Ten Thousand Hours works with Internal Communications and HR teams for organisations including: Google DeepMind, TOPdesk, LHH, Premier Oil and Kaspersky.

If you would like to discuss your internal event plans, whether online, virtual or face to face, in a free 60 minute consultation, contact or


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