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The coronavirus pandemic has led to a lot of changes in our day-to-day and working lives, but one of the bigger buzzwords of the past year has been “Zoom fatigue.” The term refers to the glut of workday meetings and video calls, as well as the virtual events that have taken over our social calendar, that have been constantly wearing us down during the pandemic.
Virtual events have taken over our daily lives, impacting everything from how we work to how we socialize. Indeed, they have come to dictate many of the core components of our daily schedule and many people are feeling the effects of constant on-screen exposure (emotionally, physically, and psychologically). As we head into year two of virtual meetings, webinars, and online events, we wanted to talk about “Zoom fatigue” as it relates to businesses – both their employees and client – and events, along with new ideas for conducting virtual events in the future.
What is Zoom Fatigue?
At the start of the pandemic, many companies instituted work-from-home (WFH) protocols. These consisted of using Slack to keep in touch with team members, Zoom meetings meant to emulate conference room gatherings, and virtual happy hours to celebrate the end of the workweek. All of these meetings led to “Zoom fatigue,” which is a catchall term for being online and people feeling “like they have to make more emotional effort to appear interested” with “intense focus on words and sustained eye contact.” These online meetings and events are much more draining than in-person events and leave people feeling exhausted.
Now, with remote work here to stay, especially in New York and much of the U.S., many businesses are looking for new ways to keep employees and potential clients entertained while at home.
The employee side of this is two-fold with current employees and new hires.
- Current employees had to deal with a transition to video conferencing and virtual meetings. Seemingly overnight, they became remote workers on Slack and Zoom.
- New hires came on to a team anticipating remote work and a virtual team but have to work doubly hard to acclimate to the workplace culture. With everything virtual, new hires may find it more difficult to be productive team members unless there are comparable team-building activities.
Keeping up morale for employees while working from home can be difficult, especially when employees can’t check in like normal. Of course, this may not be the case for every employee or business. However, it is important to keep in mind because Zoom fatigue does impact employees as much as clients and social events.
For clients during the pandemic, most business interactions have been conducted online and through video conferencing. So many companies are looking for fun ways to work with clients while abiding by coronavirus restrictions and social distancing.
A way to stand out from the pack when trying to both sign new clients and retain old clients is to have virtual offerings that take advantage of technology while mimicking the intimacy of small group meetings. Just like employees, clients want to feel a personal connection to the company that makes them feel valued.
So, finding a way to put a new spin on virtual events isn’t just impactful for the big fundraisers and events, but also for daily client meetings. They can help bring a new level of engagement during a time when people are growing tired of staring into a computer screen.
We’ve got some great ideas below on how to avoid virtual overload at your business!
Events During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Before giving you some ideas to take back to your business, we wanted to highlight some of the fun and innovative event ideas that have emerged during the pandemic. Many businesses have found unique ways to incorporate virtual and hybrid events into their year.
Virtual events are a great way to gather and connect people during lockdowns and COVID-19. They also allow businesses to reach a wider audience through the internet.
- Many musicians found themselves unable to play to live audiences this year and, instead, went online.
- The Global Citizen #TogetherAtHome started with Chris Martinon March 16, 2020 and spread via social media to become a massive online series. It was later expanded to One World: Together at Home, a global broadcast.
- Save Our Stages Festwas a curated concert series. Artists appeared shuttered venues and performed a setlist while raising money to save their performing arts spaces.
- Museums have started offering virtual tours as a way to visit.
- There were a lot of video chat interviews and cast reunions during the pandemic. They worked because people were able to gather (virtually) from around the world and talk together.
- Virtual exercise classes were very popular during the pandemic and helped keep many studios and instructors in business.
As coronavirus restrictions have eased, hybrid events have become a more dominant event form, combining both in-person and virtual elements.
- One of the oldest hybrid event examples is actually Apple’s Special Events Showcase.
- It’s a live event that’s live-streamed around the world.
- This could become the norm for some businesses that want to invite people to events but not reduce their online and global reach.
- Many video game and e-sport tournaments are played live in arenas but are also broadcast, allowing people to be there and experience the event without sacrificing the digital aspect of e-sports.
- Wine tasting is very much an in-person and communal event… or is it? Many wineries have hosted virtual wine tastings where they send bottles to people who sign up and then have a video conference tasting with an expert.
- This allows people to do something during the virtual aspect and feel like they are part of the process.
Some Ideas to Take with You
Now that we’ve gone through some of the popular hybrid and virtual events this year, we wanted to find some ways you can apply them to your business. We’ve divided them into four categories, but some of the events work for anything!
As we move into year two of the pandemic, both hybrid and virtual events can help your business expand its client and customer base with a reduction in cost and an increase in ROI.
These events can be convenient and flexible for you, your employees, and your audience while making a huge impact on your business.
To Help Company Culture and Employees
Continuing to foster that great company culture with team building and activities that are fun for employees without being draining is important. It’s a big ask, but it can go a long way.
- Jackbox Games and other platforms have made virtual games all the rage during the pandemic. With these platforms, you can host an easy virtual party where the games are the main attraction. It allows you and your team to get together for some fun and is much better than a video conference gathering!
- Celebrate the end of the workweek with trivia. Send drinks and/or snacks to employees and play a game together. By having something to eat or drink together, you help create a communal atmosphere for celebration while adding an interactive and engaging component to an otherwise completely virtual Zoom call.
Snagging Clients and Making Sales
Recreating the personal connection that helps a business make a sale or retain a client can feel elusive nowadays. But these ideas can help!
- Like the museum virtual tours (see above), you could do a virtual showcase of your business. Give a tour of the space and inventory like it’s a personalized shopping tour.
- If you have inventory and product to sell to clients, you have a few different options:
- Unveil a new product line live! It builds anticipation and helps you keep a connection with an audience. Make it feel like an opening — you could give away gift cards to entice people to shop for the new products later.
- Host a webinar or interview with the creator of the new product line. It lets customers hear from them and put a face to the product name.
- Have a “Get to Know You” gathering, where potential clients and customers have the opportunity to meet you and other co-founders. This way people will know your story and understand your brand.
- You can make it fun with trivia about the business and provide special attention to clients and customers with breakout rooms.
- For clients or customers, one fun way to keep them on board is by having a hybrid event. You can send products in advance and enjoy them together – like a virtual wine tasting (see above).
For Your Events
- A lot of events will be hybrid for the foreseeable future in this new normal. The in-person and virtual aspects will provide flexibility to attendees and can be beneficial for your business to expand its reach! The big piece of advice here is to make sure that it looks great in-person and virtually.
- Pre-recorded sessions can allow you to leverage new partners to talk about their work with your business. These can be events for a product launch or even interviews!
As we continue in this second year of the coronavirus pandemic, lockdowns are easing and it seems like relief may be coming soon. However, virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. Businesses need to have the tools and ideas they need to impress clients, retain employees, and be a successful business!
Given all of this, it is important that business owners spend some time thinking about how they can leverage the current virtual environment in an innovative and inventive way. Finding new ways to engage your customers and clients can mean the difference between success and failure, especially as the pandemic winds down and things return to normal. After all, you don’t want your customers to forget about you!
As such, keeping employees engaged with unique Zoom events and finding ways to raise brand awareness through innovative zoom offerings is a great way to make sure that your employee and customer bases remain strong and excited as business returns to normal!