The “Other” New Normal: How Planners Have Adapted to Remote Working


The COVID-19 pandemic has indelibly changed the ways in which we live and work.  For those planning events remotely, the advent and continued popularity of hybrid and remote is undeniably one of the era’s lasting legacies, one which has left a profound mark on the wider industry.  Yet deeper still runs the impact of another new normal: remote working.  As the results of our white paper have revealed, this practice is now firmly entrenched within the sector’s wider working culture.  But for planners — who rely on close interactions and connections to create successful events — the rise of remote working has not come without its challenges. It’s time to explore how this new normal has changed not only how planners undertake their work, but how they have adapted so swiftly and successfully to such radical change.

Planning events remotely? The Before and The After

Prior to 2020, face-to-face personal communication — between planners and colleagues and planners and their audiences — was unquestionably the norm.  Today, our vantage point at the very top of the post-pandemic era makes it easier to stop and look back at both the advantages and disadvantages of what once was.  To be certain, planners thrived on the spontaneous sparks of interaction and inspiration that truly only come when working side-by-side with colleagues in a face-to-face environment.  From a logistical perspective, on-site working offered a forum for direct and instantaneous collaboration and the facility to swiftly clarify questions, problems, and concerns as planners moved forward through the planning process of an event with their colleagues.  Hand in hand with on-site working, of course, came emotional intelligence, something that coloured the working day with shades and tones of emotion and created a rapport of shared interpersonal experiences between colleagues.

For planners — as for professionals in almost every other sector and industry — the transition to remote working has been both a challenge and a revelation.  While that spontaneous spark of person-to-person collaboration and communication may have flickered with the initial introduction of remote working, the enthusiasm shown by planners for their industry has remained undiminished.  In these few years — in a move that attests to their professionalism and passion for their industry — planners have surmounted that initial shock of change to make a true success of a very real challenge.

Adapting to the New Normal

From today’s vantage point, this success looks effortless, but planners have deployed hard graft and incredible agility to meet in real-time the demands made by the sudden move to remote working.  What’s more, successful planners have implemented specific techniques to ensure that this broader shift in the working world has not impacted the quality of their events — even as they’ve had to grapple with fundamental changes within the sector.

First among these tactics is a fundamental awareness of both the benefits and the challenges brought about by this move to remote working. While it certainly offers flexibility and financial benefits for both employers and employees, remote working can be a direct challenge to the kind of spontaneous, collaborative environment in which so many planners thrive.  In fact, it’s fair to say that this is the primary threat posed by remote working to planning teams, but canny planners have sought to head it off by any means.  While it’s true that — at a very basic level — tools like Slack, Zoom, Google Workspace, Asana, and Trello, etc., can be effective platforms for communication and project management, technology itself is not the deciding factor when it comes to successful event planning in a remote environment.

Techniques for Nurturing a Collaborative Culture in the World of Remote Work

That is to say, the most effective and efficient event planners of today have taken the time and effort to establish a culture and context around remote working, setting practical guidance and clear protocols to smooth and ease the flow of communication and collaboration between themselves and their teams.  For today’s remote planners, these simple practices often include clearly indicating their designated platform for communication and/or project management tasks (i.e., Google Workspace, Slack, etc.).  Good planners — especially those in management positions — are also clear about establishing protocols in terms of the expected frequency of virtual team meetings and 1-to-1 check-ins.

Over the last three years, many organisations have made a decisive operational shift to remote working.  Yet, savvy planners recognise the power that in-person collaboration still holds when it comes to sparking inspiration and rapport among their remote teams.  This is why planners still lean on face-to-face meet-ups as a trusted tool for enlivening their work with that all-important spark of spontaneity. They know that these in-person meetings have the potential to bring new perspectives and new knowledge and, from an emotional welfare standpoint, can brighten the day-to-day routine — and even cut the isolation — that sometimes comes along with remote working.  Most importantly, meeting face-to-face offers a forum for remote planners to share and address the tasks and problems that they may struggle to grapple with on their own — challenges that simply cannot be met virtually or individually.

It may now be the new normal, but for event planners — for whom the cut and thrust of close interpersonal communication will always be second nature — the shift to remote working has proven to be a true challenge.  And yet — as with any of the many other obstacles that have emerged over the last three years — this group of professionals has risen to the task to make a true success of this profound change.


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