Keeping Remote Teams Connected: The Endless Event Town Hall Success Story
As 2021 draws to an end, it’s clear the shift towards remote working will remain. Companies continue to be hesitant around bringing employees back in the office full-time, and many employees are reticent to return.
However, while employees are happier with the new arrangements and the flexibility remote work offers, companies face a new challenge. Without face-to-face meetings and water-cooler chats, there is an increased need to engage and connect team members, and foster a better work culture through new approaches.
Virtual coffee breaks and cocktail hours conducted through Zoom, Teams, or Google Meets have become a typical go-to. But as these video conference formats have become so ubiquitous (hello “Zoom fatigue!”), companies like Endless Events have found success in other more immersive virtual event formats.
We sat down with Will Curran, founder and Chief Event Einstein at Endless Events, about their interactive virtual experience approach for a recent internal town hall and what other organizations can learn about keeping dispersed teams connected with the rise of remote working.
Allseated: Where did the idea for a virtual town hall for your team come about?
Curran: Endless Events has been a fully remote company for over seven years. Before the pandemic, we always did our town hall/all staff meetings virtually. It was a basic Zoom call before, with a simple hour-long agenda.
As we looked to our mid-2021 event, we were focused on recapping the wins to date, along with our objectives to close out the quarter.
In particular, for this event, we wanted to create a unique space for our team to come together and feel as if we were together in person. So we partnered with Allseated and used EXVO to make that feeling real!
Allseated: Share a bit of your approach to the Endless Events virtual town hall on the EXVO platform.
Curran: Content-wise, our virtual town hall program was very similar to our previous Zoom formats. We started with introductions, followed by business updates from the executive team, and then an open Ask Me Anything (AMA) session.
Our virtual town hall program was purposely brief, about an hour. We also only started letting people in about 20 to 30 minutes before the meeting time. The event was open for a short time because we wanted to have an element of surprise for our staff – employees joined roughly at the same time, which created a sense of togetherness. Based on the feedback, it was a good decision.
We followed the same format of general introductions, business updates, and open discussions. There was a fun element of a photo booth, too, with teams taking group pictures before exploring booths throughout the realistic venue environment. We used the booths to showcase and preview upcoming podcast and article content.
Allseated: Now that you’ve done your town hall events a couple of different ways, what are the most significant differences you experienced?
Curran: The Allseated EXVO experience was completely different than other traditional virtual employee engagement events. With exVo’s video avatars and customized immersive environment, it felt like an “almost IRL” experience. People were free to wander around, and there was a lot more chatting with other team members, which added a lot more fun, emotions, and feelings for our staff.
We received feedback that our team felt they were at a party rather than on another Zoom call. Entire departments came to explore early, holding their morning huddles together – almost like those casual hallway conversations that happen when you’re in person.
A surprising moment came leading up to the main session. Even though we made announcements that the session was going to start, just like an in-person event, groups weren’t ready to leave their video chats. So we used our video avatars to politely remind and escort participants into the meeting hall because the session was about to begin. The immersive environment experience was that real!
When we do this again, I’ll encourage different business units to have their small team huddles or meetings at the space after the main program. One team did that, and everyone had FOMO why they couldn’t join too.
Allseated: How did a virtual approach benefit your team?
Curran: In-person meetings are still the best. But a virtual experience like the one Allseated and EXVO provided can be the second-best option – especially when cost, logistics, and schedules may be a factor in getting remote teams together.
From a planning perspective, it’s obviously cost-effective because you don’t need to budget for travel, hotels, or expenses. And logistics like that make it more challenging for entire teams to get together regularly.
From the employees’ perspective, the experience felt more “special.” They were more connected and excited to attend, something standard video conferencing isn’t designed to recreate. This kind of virtual town hall experience was more exciting and made them want to attend.
Even though we’ve been in tons of video calls and are constantly connected with each other, I saw so much excitement and energy from my team during our EXVO town hall because they got to move around a space and feel like they were together.
We had an 85 percent increase in peer-to-peer interactions and 100 percent of attendees who took advantage of the video conversation feature! There’s no other platform out there or technology that brings teams or attendees closer together.
Allseated: What tips would you offer for other companies considering hosting their next virtual town hall in an immersive environment like EXVO?
Curran: What’s amazing is that the possibilities are truly endless. To start, the experience can be designed to reflect a key message or theme. So, for example, if the message from senior leadership is about future goals and reaching for the moon and stars, the entire look of the virtual environment can support that story.
And just like in-person events, take advantage of virtual design capabilities to create a “wow” factor that will get the group talking and excited to participate.
A platform like EXVO also has much more robust collaboration and interactive capabilities than traditional video conferencing platforms. Encourage teams to take advantage of those features by hosting small group huddles or meetings – which boosts team camaraderie and supports the primary goal of keeping remote workers connected and engaged.
See examples of other organizations that have used EXVO to create engaging internal or external event experiences. For more information about what is possible for remote employees – and how easy it is to keep them connected – contact us to learn more.