Although Covid-19 has not vanished and variants are still spreading, the roll-out of the vaccine has led to a decrease in the restrictions experienced in 2020. As early as May 2021, US states began rolling back restrictions, and the impact was felt immediately. WFO (work-from-office), travel, and in-person events and meetings are on the rise, as compared to the secluded working practices rolled out in early 2020. How will being face to face with clients and colleagues change perceptions of trust and relationships? Will the lift on travel bans lead to more conferences, meetings, and events? Will companies go back to offices, allow a split work schedule or continue the “in home” office life? Let’s unpack these questions by examining the impact of a changing market post-pandemic.
WFO > WFH?
As the number of Covid-19 cases began rising across the globe, only essential workers were permitted to go into work, birthing the #WFH phenomenon that swept businesses across the globe from 2020 and onwards. Currently, work-from-home numbers are starting to dwindle as a return to the office seems to be adopted by more companies..
The Hybrid Model
More than two thirds of remote workers currently feel comfortable returning to the office (Morning Consult, 2021). Still, many see the benefits of creating a hybrid WFH and WFO lifestyle. Big tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon have united around the flexibility that a hybrid model offers. And although many workers may feel accustomed to their WFH lives, it’s easy to get excited at the benefits a return to office can bring, including collaboration and a work routine that doesn’t interfere with home-life.
There is no doubt that professionals have become adept at communicating through tech platforms as Covid-19 brought a surge in mobile landscapes, such as Zoom, Slack, or Google Hangouts. But will these individuals find the same comfort they experience in virtual chat platforms when working side by side in an office? Can young professionals who worked remotely during their first job out of college learn to adapt to an office setting? The optimistic answer is yes. To thrive in any professional environment, adaptability is key. And, as will be discussed - there are many benefits to WFO - so the motivation to adapt is strong.
Collaboration Has Never Been Easier
In a WFO setting, collaboration is effortless. By sharing an office with your colleagues, communication becomes more open. Talking out loud, problem solving, and sharing ideas and solutions are easier in an office setting, a main drawback of the virtual chatting solution. Though online platforms are built to aid in communication, working side by side with your colleagues in a close environment has the potential to create pockets of energy that cannot be felt through a screen. Not to mention that grabbing lunch or coffee breaks with your coworkers can cement trust, build relationships and promote team building within the organization.
Another drawback of working from home is the heavy impact on work-life balance. WFH often means rolling out of bed, having a cup of coffee, and answering emails seconds later. When work becomes too intertwined with daily life, it can have a negative effect on productivity or lead to feeling overworked. On the other hand, having dedicated hours in the office creates a more distinct separation between work and one’s personal life.
The Travel Revival
Professionals are beginning to meet the demands of a changing global landscape. Although the travel industry experienced many challenges in 2020, travel app installs increased by 123% in 2021 (Sensor Tower). Mobile apps are capitalizing on the re-emergence of travel in 2021 and the technology behind them may be the catalyst for its revival. While this may be great news for those planning their next vacation, the travel industry comeback has the potential to influence businesses by re-introducing conferences and in-person events.
Mobile Conferences are Making a Comeback
Many key mobile conferences were cancelled in 2020, and creativity was key when learning how to engage with clients during virtual versions of these events. MAU Connect, for instance, was a huge hit in 2020 as it led a virtual version of its mobile-focused conference in May, 2020. App Growth Summit also hosted virtual events throughout 2020, the most recent being AGS Seattle in June, 2021. But the travel boom in 2021 brings new possibilities, including an in-person MAU Vegas conference in October, and an in-person App Growth Summit event in San Francisco this September.
In-person conferences and events advance the potential for connection, meeting efficiency and networking. Productivity increases by meeting several clients in one space at one time. Cementing trust is easier in person as making eye contact, shaking hands, and sitting in the same room with your clients generates a closeness. A drawback to virtual events is they only cater to those in specific time zones. Meanwhile, travel creates an opportunity to meet with clients flying in from different locations, creating more opportunity for connection.
Book Your Next In-Person Meeting
Zoom fatigue has taken on a life of its own, as noted by Stanford scientists who created a study about the specific type of exhaustion caused by video calls. While the pandemic pushed connectivity tools into the spotlight to aid in virtual collaboration, the power of in-person meetings has not been lost. In-person meetings can create added value not found on Zoom. When pitching or presenting to a new client, making eye contact and having a strong presence can amplify your message, while helping you appear more relatable with both human interaction and body language. Don’t wait for the next conference or event to connect with your clients, schedule a lunch or cup of coffee to create in-person connections that people are craving.
Work From Office, travel, and in-person conferences and meetings are the future of 2021. Though variants are still spreading and nothing is certain, many are learning to adapt to the post-pandemic world while retaining the technologies Covid-19 thrust into the spotlight in 2020. A hybrid WFO-WFH model is becoming more popular, and this fall will present opportunities for professionals to take advantage of in-person networking, meetings, and collaboration. Lean in to the changes of the mobile industry and embrace the boost in productivity a post-pandemic world is sure to bring.