The in-person meeting returns from the brink
The COVID-19 pandemic changed so much around our jobs, from how we work to where we work. It brought Zoom into the daily vernacular of the office, and for many of us, that office now bears a striking resemblance to our living room or den, or study.
One thing that COVID-19 didn’t seem to change was the importance of meeting in person. Rather, the pandemic, in general, brought about an awful lot of hand-wringing about the future of in-person events, from conferences to trade shows to industry award celebrations. Companies like ours, and industry associations, pivoted and were often successful at digital events, if somewhat less so with hybrid events (which many people quickly decided they didn’t care for).
I’m glad to see, after the last few months of being back on the road, that these predictions of industry events’ collective demise have been proven wrong. In late November, we held a fantastic 300+ person gala celebration for the 2022 R&D 100 Awards, something I couldn’t have imagined a year prior. Our company got together in January for the first corporate meetings since the lockdown, and it was incredible to see all those faces without the aid of a computer monitor. I attended a large industry conference shortly thereafter, and it felt like nothing had changed from 2019, other than the plentiful bottles of hand sanitizer placed around the ballroom.
What’s more, I just returned home from back-to-back trade shows — the in-person events seemingly in most peril. They were on opposite coasts and in vastly different industries (construction and laboratory equipment), and yet both were humming with excitement, the aisle positively jammed with people.
COVID-19 may have taught us some new ways to think about things in the workplace, but it also seems to have reminded everyone how important that face-to-face human connection is to us. As Mary Gannon, the Editor-in-Chief of our sister publication Fluid Power World, remarked to me, she can’t remember ever getting so many hugs at a trade show in her life. People genuinely missed each other, and missed having that type of connection that no phone call or video chat can replace.
Paul J. Heney – VP, Editorial Director
On Twitter @wtwh_paulheney
Filed Under: DIGITAL ISSUES