. Where will remote working take us? | Meetings & Conventions Asia

Where will remote working take us?

Event agencies share lessons from lockdown and make predictions about the future of work.

Collaborative technology solutions have been around a long time – the lockdown just forced our teams to use it a lot more than before, says Petrina Goh, director, Singapore at CWT Meetings & Events.
Collaborative technology solutions have been around a long time – the lockdown just forced our teams to use it a lot more than before, says Petrina Goh, director, Singapore at CWT Meetings & Events. Photo Credit:Gettyimages/asiandelight

Company meetings and appraisals via video, virtual site inspections, communications solely via email and webchat, remote working... welcome to the ‘new normal’ of the event agency office. But just how challenging is this in practice and what lessons have been learnt thus far?

By the very nature of their job, event planners are used to working with multiple clients across different time zones at all hours of the day, using technology to facilitate this. 

Sanjay Seth, managing director, Asia at BCD Meeting & Events acknowledges that the workplace impact of the Covid-19 pandemic may not be as difficult for the events sector to adjust to as for other types of organisations.

“Virtual meetings, shared virtual workspaces, chat, email — it’s all very much the way we work,” he says. “However, with many of our people at home under stressful circumstances, we’ve had to create opportunities to connect differently, especially when trying to be creative and share ideas.”

This has meant an increased emphasis on communicating often, and with purpose, particularly as the outlook continues to be unpredictable.

For other agencies, the ongoing pandemic has highlighted that working from home does not mean working in silos.

“Collaborative technology solutions have been around a long time – the lockdown just forced our teams to explore these features more, and use it a lot more than before,” says Petrina Goh, director, Singapore at CWT Meetings & Events.

The agency created a charter for working from home and also put in place a number of measures to boost creativity and workflow among remote teams, such as “EnrichME”, a series of training sessions developed by the Asia-Pacific office.

Agency Invnt has adopted the ‘LennHill’ approach to people management. This combines the compassion and honesty associated with the former Beatles’ singer John Lennon with the more operational-focused leadership style of former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

“Our global company-wide calls shifted from quarterly to weekly to ensure employees were kept up to date with the business, and we used the calls to thank our people for their resilience,” says Laura Roberts, managing director at Invnt Group, APAC.

So what will the future of the event workplace look like post-Covid-19?

For BCD Meetings & Events, while many of its workforce remains remote for the foreseeable future, Seth says that as soon as it is able to bring people together safely, the agency has plans to re-open its offices. However, he acknowledges that the way offices are physically set-up and how they function might look different. 

CWT’s Goh envisages considerations around safe-distancing and hygiene and says offices could become meeting hubs.

While traditional office hours and set-ups are likely to be a thing of the past, the event sector thrives on social situations. Providing a central location for employees, clients and suppliers to connect is therefore likely to remain just as important, but only time will tell which format will work best.