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
“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
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.