The concept of “work-life balance” is outdated.
As traditional 9-to-5 jobs become less common, “work-life integration” or “work-life harmony” are becoming more apropos terms. Modern employees are eager to find new, nontraditional workplace environments that spur inspiration and are enjoyable, while also enabling their productivity.
Today’s corporate meeting setting has the potential to play a major role in connecting the work-life environment in more meaningful ways.
Just as offices have shifted toward open floor plans and more casual settings, traditional corporate events are also starting to loosen up and become more human-centric.
We’re starting to see our clients merge social programming into their professional meetings more often. Here are some best practices we have observed that we would like to share with other meeting planners looking to bring more life into the workplace.
- Create an alluring ambiance to help attendees feel at home.
Ambiance is everything at your professional event, and a true white-box venue can help achieve the right look and feel. A customizable space allows you to bring in elements that feel comfortable and homey.
If you’re planning a networking reception after a conference or meeting, the happy hour space should have soft couches, beanbags, and chairs grouped together in small, intimate pods to promote friendly conversations. Additionally, consider dimming the lights by 25 percent in the meeting spaces to create more of a relaxed atmosphere. You’ll know you've been successful in creating the right ambiance when your meeting participants tell you after the event that they actually want to spend time with friends and family in the same space.
- Provide Instagrammable food and beverage options.
It's almost impossible to go out for a meal these days and not see someone taking photos of their food with a cell phone. You should be aiming for the same reaction from your meeting participants. Not only will must-snap F&B boost social conversation, but it will also prove attendees are engaged and enjoying themselves.
Serving unique appetizers, specialty cocktails, or a beautifully plated dinner at your event will encourage participants to log in to their social media accounts to brag about their culinary experience. Bonus points if you can match the food served to the theme of the event.
- Integrate arts and entertainment into the run of show.
Work-life integration within a corporate meeting context is about making sure attendees have a memorable experience. Providing entertainment that participants will want to get up early (or stay out late) for is a good indication your event itinerary incorporates elements that attendees enjoy doing in their personal time.
Replace the generic coffee bar with a latte artist for a morning event, or bring in a DJ to play stimulating music between keynote or panel sessions. Or consider partnering with local artists and/or photographers to create a makeshift pop-up art exhibit to bring out participants’ creative sides.
Every industry professional has the opportunity to integrate more unexpected “surprise and delight” moments into the work environment. To grow the meetings world, we must make sure participants are excited and keep coming back for more.
Christopher Kelly is the president and co-founder of Convene, a company that integrates service, culinary, technology, and human-centered design to transform the workplace experience. He is responsible for innovation, new growth initiatives, and brand development while jointly developing company values, culture, and strategy.