There’s no denying that America — and frankly the entire world — is ready to get back to live events. After a year of quarantine, social distancing, virtual parties, and Zoom calls, there is a strong desire to connect with other people in person again. And with vaccinations picking up steam, that desire for live interaction is only getting stronger.
While we aren’t quite out of the woods yet, based on TeamBonding’s experience, expertise, and conversations with our diverse clientele, we’re comfortable making a few predictions for the foreseeable future. Granted, no plan survives the first encounter, as the cliché goes, and especially in a year marked with unprecedented events, it can be hard to predict with 100% accuracy. But that being said, there are a few things we’re pretty sure about, and we think you can be too.
The Road to Recovery: Spring 2021
Pre-pandemic, live events were exciting, motivating experiences that brought people together and forged strong bonds that translated into more productive teams. As the world went into lockdown, TeamBonding transitioned to virtual events, giving teams a way to stay connected in fun, unique ways to keep motivation high and not lose momentum even as staff worked alone in home offices.
Some of the favorite virtual team bonding events that businesses have embraced — and that will continue to be offered even once live events return — include the Virtual Comedy School, the WFH Scavenger Hunt, and the popular Curated Online Chocolate Tasting Experience, and many more.
As we look forward, don’t expect virtual events to disappear overnight. In fact, in the near future, we expect a “proceed with caution” phase of live events. That means small hybrid events, with some in-person attendees, but the majority still logging in remotely to participate.
These events will be focused on safety first, with hand sanitizing stations, social distancing, face masks, and safety equipment as precautions. In general, expect the first hybrid events to roll out to consist of 25 people or less in person, and to take place in office spaces, rather than dedicated venues like ballrooms or conference centers. They will bring together people who have already been interacting on some level — those who have already returned to the office or have been interacting with one another regularly — rather than consisting of people working from home with little to no contact.
The Road to Recovery: Summer and Fall 2021
Starting in May/June and moving through December, we expect the trend of hybrid events to continue. Businesses across the board have told us they want to host TeamBonding events, but they also don’t want to force employees back too soon or ask them to put themselves into situations that may make them uncomfortable.
Especially in the earlier months, as the vaccine continues to roll out, COVID will be the driving factor behind hybrid events, with safety top of mind. We expect, as the year progresses and everyone who wants a vaccine has a chance to get one, that hybrid events will remain the go-to as people understand their value— they are a great way to include people from a wide range of geographic locations and environments and don’t leave anyone out.
Hybrid events are also a great contingency plan — what happens if there is another surge and live events take another hit? What happens if attendees have something come up and they can’t make it to a live event? Planning a hybrid event from the start gives the most amount of flexibility to both the company and employees, ensuring that no matter what unexpected challenges might crop up, everyone will still be able to come together.
Road to Recovery: 2022 and Beyond
As we close out our second year of the pandemic, hopefully with it in the rear-view mirror, we expect most people to feel secure enough to return to live team building events and hope to see larger scale live events make a strong comeback.
As the weather warms up, and as people have months to mentally readjust to life post-vaccine, we think both businesses and employees alike will be ready to let go of the fear of large gatherings, and once more embrace live events. And not just the small gatherings we expect to see in the hybrid virtual event or virtual team bonding models — but full conferences and large-scale events that get entire teams together in the same place once more, in most cases for the first time in years.
The in-person events we’re most excited about bringing back? The Go Team Scavenger Hunt, Axe Throwing, Drone Control, Ice Sculpting, and Corporate Survivor are just a few of the options that both TeamBonding and the businesses we’ve helped bring together have loved. These — and more — are all ready to be offered again as sprint is upon us with COVID safety guidelines.
We are excited to get to that point, and get back to helping you plan and execute the TeamBonding events that bring your employees together and foster the connections and camaraderie that lead to stronger, more productive teams. We are just as ready as you are to return to hosting live events. In the meantime, we strongly believe the virtual and hybrid models are here to stay to ensure morale and productivity stay high as companies rebuild their new work models.