Insight

Gathering differently

Over recent weeks, we have all seen our idea of ‘normal’ turned on its head. Both professionally and personally, ‘business as usual’ has very much become ‘business unusual’. But whether it’s business or social, the world keeps spinning.

Here’s how we’re adapting.

Many preplanned gatherings have gone out the window because of COVID-19; there’s not much of anything happening anymore. We have seen mass cancellations of major global events – Tokyo 2020 has been pushed back, musicians are postponing entire tours, MIPIM 2020 has finally been officially cancelled and business events up to end of the year are being rescheduled and recast.

A ‘new normal’ is fast becoming established.  Despite everything, people are still gathering. Professional contact and communications haven’t been thrown out the window entirely. We are rethinking what gatherings look like, reassessing how we operate, and questioning how we can achieve the same results through different means.

Moving forward

At a time where we can’t physically be together, we are finding ways to do things differently.

Last year, 87% more people chose to use video conferencing than in the two years prior. Last week, more people signed up to communications platform Slack than in the previous 6 months. Using online tools for communication is nothing new – but millions of people all around the world are suddenly jumping in with both feet. We have never seen mass adoption on this scale.

With our clients, we’ve been using video calls and online collaboration tools for years.  But in the last few weeks we’ve had virtual meetings with more first-timers than ever before.

Gathering online

People still need to come together. Conferences and events still need to happen. Knowledge needs to be shared and debated.  How do we do this, if not in person for the next few months?

Tools like Hopin, Whova, or Zoom make it possible to hold meetings, conferences, or networking events remotely – lots of people, not just four.

Right now, this means we can maintain some semblance of normalcy amidst distancing and isolation rules. But into the future – as habits inevitably change – it will spark a shift in our thinking and how we approach events.

Virtual conferencing has a host of benefits. Cost is a big one. It can cost less to put on a conference, attendees avoid travel costs, you can reach a broader audience, and the environmental impact is much reduced (no more brochures and giveaways going straight in the bin). It also provides a tangible product – a recording – that can then be saved and used again.

Similarly, videos and podcasts provide a means of sharing information and educating from a distance, and social media allows the discussion.

Gathering differently

At Luma, we are thinking about what happens when this crisis reaches its end. Our eyes are firmly on the horizon.

It’s safe to say that the way we gather will be different. With a shove rather than a nudge, our habits will have changed. Those who have resisted flexible working and online interaction have been forced to get stuck in.  We are making the most of technology to fill gaps left when physically gathering is no longer an option. New habits developed now will no doubt resonate well into the future.

Businesses are opening up to different ways of gathering. Similarly, everyone will be more considered about using public transport, navigating crowded places, or traipsing into work with a cold. The impacts of COVID-19 will change how we think long into the future.

We predict that gatherings will become purposeful, hosting in-person events only when it’s important and there’s a tangible benefit. There will be more intent and awareness behind our choice to physically bring people together.

We may not be able to revel in each other’s company or benefit from the buffet spread at a networking event for a little while, but we can still communicate, share information, and spend time with each other. Digital tools mean we are still gathering, even during this complicated time. We’re having to be more committed and deliberate about our social contact, spending hours face-to-face (virtually) with colleagues, clients and collaborators.

Who do you choose to connect with?

To summarise: when the invitations for digital events start to arrive, accept. Jump in with both feet. Bring a colleague. Contribute to the discussion. Become comfortable with your video face. This is the new normal.

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