Categories
remote work

Countering 7 Return to the Physical Office Benefits Myths

Every few days, there seems to be a media frenzy around another large company’s CEO calling their workers back to their physical offices. The reasons they’ve cited include everything from productivity losses to remote work being unsuitable for inspiring creativity and innovation. 

But as someone who has worked fully remotely for the past six years—and worked from home weekly in my decade at a Fortune 500 company—something didn’t ring true. So I took a look at the data. And guess what? The data tells a different story about some of the most commonly cited reasons about the benefits of working in the physical office.

Read on for some of the most frequent reasons companies are recalling their workforce into the office and recent research that provides a different perspective.

Myth 1: Working in the office is necessary to enable collaboration and foster teamwork.

Scientific American’s review of research found that the larger the in-person group, the fewer novel ideas each person has—but the opposite is the case for electronic brainstorming. The more people included in your virtual brainstorming session, the larger number of novel ideas per person. Now that the majority of workers have access to digital collaboration tools, according to the Gartner, Inc. Digital Worker Experience Survey, there’s little reason to get the team together in person for many collaborative tasks. Still not convinced? Consider the sustained success of fully remote companies such as GitLab, Automattic, and InVision.

Myth 2: You can’t build a cohesive company culture without everyone in the office together.

SHRM’s Organizational Culture toolkit mentions numerous factors that go into creating a cohesive culture, but—spoiler alert—having your entire workforce in the same physical space isn’t one of them. Similarly, McKinsey’s research into the factors influencing last year’s Great Resignation found employees seek greater connection with leaders and aspire to be part of a cohesive team. But that didn’t mean they wanted to come into the office. To retain employees, organizations need to evolve their approach to building community, cohesion, and a sense of belonging at work. 

Myth 3: Workers are more productive in the physical office than working remotely.

Gallup research indicates that remote workers are more productive than on-site workers. That’s because workers with the opportunity to work from home are more engaged, which has been shown to improve productivity and lead to the best business outcomes. The WFH project’s ongoing research similarly found that nearly six out of 10 workers reported being more productive working from home than they expected to be, compared with 14 percent who said they got less done. On average, respondents’ productivity at home was 7 percent higher than they expected.

Myth 4: Remote workers have low morale and feel isolated.

A survey by the mental health research website Tracking Happiness found that the ability to work remotely is positively correlated with employee happiness. Those fully remote workers reported a happiness level about  20% higher than full-time office workers. A study from the ADP Research Institute — titled People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View — agreed with those findings, finding remote employees to be more optimistic (89%) than their on-premises coworkers (77%) and have more job satisfaction (90%) compared to those that commute to the office (82%). Additionally, a mid-2020 McKinsey study found a 55% increase in job satisfaction for remote workers. So while some employees may have felt isolated or had low morale in the early days of the pandemic when Covid restrictions replaced much of their daily routines with being stuck in their homes 24/7, that doesn’t appear to have persisted.

Myth 5: Workers need to be in the office to access specific resources and equipment that is only available in the office.

Not every job lends itself to working from home. For example, if you are a machinist, you need to be on the shop floor where the machine you’re employed to run is physically located.  But many jobs—even blue-collar jobs typically associated with being on-site only—have found ways to be remote-friendly. McKinsey’s American Opportunity Survey found 58 percent of Americans who have the opportunity to work from home do so at least one day a week. Further, 35 percent of respondents report having the option to work from home five days a week. If you’re thinking they must have just surveyed coastal knowledge workers, think again. Their respondents work in a wide range of jobs across the country and include workers in jobs commonly thought of as “blue collar” positions requiring on-site work.

Myth 6: Digital work makes it harder to protect sensitive information and data.

A recent article in CPO magazine suggests that a home office might be as safe, if not more secure, than an office cubicle. Why? They hypothesized that perceived trust in physical office settings makes them less secure than many remote working environments. For example, unencrypted network protocols are extremely common on a corporate network, while most home networks have firewalls and password encryption. Then there’s the physical data theft aspect. While someone can easily tailgate employees into the company HQ and access computers or data on thumb drives, that’s pretty unlikely to happen at someone’s home office. And, if working from home was truly more of a security risk than being in the office, you’d expect to see at least one of the most significant data security incidents from 2022 in this report to have mentioned being caused by a remote worker.

Myth 7: It costs businesses more to subsidize workers working at home.

Some company leaders have said it’s costly to support allowing people to work remotely. But, in most cases, few employers are paying for much, if any, of the home office costs. So that argument may not hold much water. Also, starting in 2021, The WSJ reported companies expect to reap millions of dollars in savings in the years ahead as they scale back on office space. Global Workplace Analytics estimates companies could save over $500 billion a year in real estate, electricity, absenteeism, turnover, and productivity. And let’s not forget that those huge physical company HQs also required that companies pay for utilities, janitorial services, security, maintenance, office supplies, coffee and water service, parking spaces, transit subsidies, ADA compliance, and furniture, to name a few recurring expenses.

It doesn’t take a physical office to give your people a sense of being part of a cohesive team. But it is important to bring your remote workers together in a virtual space that inspires collaboration and interaction. See how Frameable Spaces can give your distributed teams all the benefits of working together, no matter where they are.

Categories
remote work

How A Virtual Office Manager Can Support Your Remote or Hybrid Team

After three years of remote work, more than 80% of employees agree that their overall wellbeing has improved because of remote and hybrid working arrangements, and 64% would even look for a new job if their employer made it mandatory to return to the workplace full-time. 

But as many teams have learned the hard way, simply allowing employees to work remotely does not mean you are providing a great work experience. Just as with the physical office, your virtual workspace needs someone charged with making your company a great place to work. 

In this blog post, we explore a new essential company role: the virtual office manager. Read on to learn about which organizations may benefit from hiring this position, what a virtual office manager’s day-to-day job entails, and what to include in your job description to attract the right candidate to your remote team.

Who Needs A Virtual Office Manager

If you are a team of two or three, a virtual assistant may be a better role to add than a virtual office manager. But, if you have five or more remote workers using one or more digital technologies to collaborate, it’s worth evaluating if a virtual office manager makes sense. Ask yourself these questions to decide if a virtual office manager is a good fit for your team:

  • Do our executives spend significant portions of their day on administrative tasks? 
  • Is our company growing quickly? 
  • Are we disorganized in our processes and systems?
  • Do we make it a priority to address our employees’ needs quickly and effectively?
  • Is our general company email inbox overflowing?
  • Can we bring on a new team member, given our financial situation?

If you answered no to any of these, it might be beneficial to spend some time developing your remote work policy—we share five steps to get you started here. On the other hand, if you answered yes to all the above questions, read on to uncover your path to hiring the right virtual office manager. 

What Does a Virtual Office Manager Job Entail?

Virtual office managers can complete many tasks to free up your executive team’s time and support your remote employee needs.

A virtual office manager job will greatly vary company by company. But a few things a virtual office manager can do include:

  • Handle all internal communications
  • Plan and manage company events
  • Support finance teams with billing and payroll 
  • Onboard new employees
  • Assist with tech setup and support
  • Research new office software tools and solutions
  • Coordinate the use of software tools across teams
  • Arrange executive travel
  • Book appointments and meeting spaces
  • Field and manage any inbound emails from prospective clients
  • Create guides and how-to docs to improve the employee experience

An office manager was previously seen as a luxury for smaller offices. However, one of the many benefits of remote work is it allows companies to find the right full or part-time office manager, without any geographic restrictions, to fit their budget. This makes it significantly easier to justify adding this much-needed support to your team. 

Before you bring on a virtual office manager, you need to understand how they will help your team. Align your cross-departmental leadership to understand what you’re looking for in a virtual office manager. What is your goal for hiring a virtual office manager? Will they support your executive, HR, and finance teams? What specific tasks does the team need them to handle?

Document the various responsibilities you envision for your virtual office manager and identify who they will report to. This background will help you to prepare your job posting. 

Key Elements of a Virtual Office Manager Job Description

Most of the current virtual office manager job openings are positioned as an office manager that works remotely. That works, but there’s room for the job to evolve and reflect its unique role in the future of work.

We recommend you include these elements in your virtual office manager job description: 

  • Your company description: What does your brand do, and what do you seek to accomplish? A compelling company description can help candidates understand if they connect with your company’s mission and purpose. 
  • Time commitment: Is this position full-time or part-time? When will your office manager be expected to work, and in what time zone? Be specific in this section so candidates can decide whether the time requirements are right for them. 
  • Key responsibilities: What do you expect the office manager to do? Provide as many details as possible, including possible day-to-day and recurring duties. For example, if several departments will share your virtual office manager, it could help to disclose what portion of their job will be spent on specific needs (such as 25% on executive support, 25% on HR administrative tasks, and 50% on general office management). 
  • Soft and hard skills: What are the required skills for the job? Consider both hard and soft skills, such as prior experience in your field or familiarity with specific programs, as well as ideal behavioral traits like an eagerness to learn and being a problem solver. 
  • Virtual office tools: What tools power your remote office? List any platforms the virtual office manager will need to use or champion—but remember that an ideal candidate can quickly learn how to use your tools, regardless of prior experience. 
  • Expected salary or pay rate: Some states require you to post a salary range with any published job listing. Even if a state does not require this, your candidates will appreciate it, and it can help filter out candidates seeking higher compensation. 

Give Your Team a More Engaging Virtual Workspace

The virtual and hybrid remote experience will increasingly become a competitive differentiator for brands, but there’s one team hire that could give you a serious advantage—a virtual office manager.

Virtual office managers play an integral role in orchestrating your remote work experience and ensuring your employees can thrive. The job varies across companies, and a virtual office manager can help with everything from administrative work to key culture activities that strengthen your team morale.

Having the right team for remote work is essential for protecting your business, but you can’t forget about the tools you use to connect.

We’ve built Frameable Spaces to provide online spaces for modern remote work, empowering teams to self-organize and interact just as they would in the physical office. Learn more about what your team can do in Frameable Spaces and try it for free today: https://frameable.com/spaces

Categories
virtual events

10 Activities for a More Festive Virtual Holiday Party

The holidays are just around the corner! Is your team planning a workplace holiday celebration?

Although many work holiday parties were curtailed in 2020, teams now have a much better understanding of how to host a fulfilling online team event—and that includes the classic workplace holiday party.

To help your company plan an online holiday party that your team will actually want to attend, let’s explore how you can adapt 10 common holiday party activities for a virtual setting. 

Online Workplace Holiday Party Activity Ideas

Before you get too far in your holiday party planning, be sure to talk to your team and understand what they are looking for in a virtual holiday celebration. Gauge the ideal day, time, and length of the party, as well as what activities everyone is interested in and how they’d like to celebrate the season with each other. 

While there certainly should be some element of mystery or holiday surprise, you should gently gather the key information to guide your virtual holiday party planning. 

Consider adding any of these activities to the lineup to make your virtual holiday party one that your team will love:

What says “I appreciate you” more than a homemade or gourmet bakery cookie? Cookie swaps are a holiday-time favorite, and you can easily host a virtual cookie swap during your workplace holiday party. 

Depending on how dispersed your team is, you can approach this a few different ways:

  • The most straightforward option is to encourage your team members to bake or buy their seasonal favorites and drop them off with a local team member. This person will collect everyone’s baked goods and then mail them out or drop them off. However, this idea works best if your team primarily works out of the same city.
  • Alternatively, your team can share holiday cookie recipes for everyone to bake before the party. Then, you can spend a portion of the get-together discussing everyone’s recipes, sharing a story associated with each recipe, and enjoying the baked goods. This option is a perfect one if you have team members with special dietary needs or food allergies.

Cooking or Other DIY Classes

A hands-on cooking lesson or similar crafting or do-it-yourself class—like painting, soap making, or creating air plant terrariums—is a naturally engaging activity for your workplace holiday party. If a member of your team is an outstanding chef with a holiday recipe they’d love to share or a hands-on crafter, ask if they would like to host or co-host the class. Alternatively, you can hire a professional chef or crafter to lead the online activity. If you choose to host this yourself, first determine what DIY activity your team is most interested in and then mail the supplies to them ahead of your party. 

Gingerbread Decorating Kits

Do you want a casual activity for everyone to work on as they celebrate the holidays? Host a gingerbread decorating party or competition! Mail gingerbread decorating kits to your team, and have everyone work on their houses throughout the online holiday party. You can create breakout rooms for people to rotate through as they catch up with their colleagues, show off their gingerbread creations, and get some well-deserved catching-up time.

Holiday Virtual Happy Hour 

Who’s ready for drinks?! Traditional in-person holiday parties often feature fun and festive drinks for everyone to enjoy. Mail your team non-alcoholic supplies (branded Yeti wine tumblers make a nice gift) plus a BevMo, Costco, or similar gift card for them to purchase alcohol or other beverages. Create recipe cards that explain how to make a few seasonal drinks. Bonus points if your team submits their seasonal favorites for everyone to try! If you need ideas, check out this list of 50 holiday cocktails or these 15 holiday mocktail recipes.

Tabletop Game or Card Game

Sometimes the best holiday party games are the most simple. Consider hosting a tabletop game or a card game for everyone to play in breakout groups. There are 12 potential board games to play in this article, while PlayingCards.io is one option for hosting a virtual card game. 

Trivia Game

Trivia is perfect for an online holiday party. Create breakout rooms in your virtual holiday party platform so that each team can collaborate. Designate one spokesperson from each team to share answers, or create Google Forms that teams will submit their answers through. You can host any theme for this trivia. You can keep it holiday-focused with a theme like classic holiday movies, name that holiday tune, or holidays around the world. Or you can explore any theme that will delight your team (and you can ask them during your pre-event planning conversations). 

Scavenger Hunt 

A virtual scavenger hunt can be a high-energy activity for teams, especially if there is a prize to win. Create a list of items that most of your team members should have at home, including some obscure or lesser-found items. Read off the item and ask everyone to go grab that item if they have it. Whoever returns the fastest wins.

Another way you can approach this game is to deliver a series of clues that will take your team across the internet or throughout locations in their homes. Then, give them 10 minutes to work through the list and take a photo or screenshot of what they think each clue is referencing. 

“Ugly Sweater” Contest

It’s not the holidays without a holiday sweater contest. Make your online workplace holiday party a little extra special by encouraging everyone to dress to a theme. Designate a portion of your party for everyone to show off their costumes. You can designate a “winner” based on team votes (just don’t let people vote for themselves).

Virtual Escape Room

Escape rooms skyrocketed in popularity over the past couple of years, especially as a go-to team-building activity. Now, you can host a virtual escape room, too! Check out this article for 24 possible rooms to explore, with details on pricing for each. 

Virtual Holiday Party Gift Exchange

A staple of most workplace holiday celebrations is the gift exchange. No matter how your team usually describes its gift-giving—Secret Santa, White Elephant, homemade gifts only—you can easily host a gift exchange during an online holiday party.

Provide pre-paid shipping labels to your team and set a deadline of no longer than 2 weeks before your party for team members to ship their gifts. During the event, take time for everyone to open their gifts, potentially in small-group breakouts if you have many people attending the party. 

Pick a Virtual Holiday Party Platform That Puts Your Team At The Heart of the Experience

The ideas we explored are just a few thought starters for hosting an engaging virtual holiday party. Consider these activities when discussing your holiday party plans with your team and gauging what they would like to do. 

Throughout your planning, remember the true purpose of an online workplace holiday party: to celebrate your team and provide an optional space to come together.

If you force everyone to attend your holiday party only to maroon them in a sub-par online meeting platform, their holiday spirits will instantly dampen. You need to pick an online event platform that gives your team the flexibility they need to hop in and out of rooms, network in small-group settings, and occasionally join as a full team for any announcements from your leadership (are bonuses on the horizon?).

We’ve built Frameable Events to host engaging online holiday parties for teams of all sizes. Our platform allows you to create fully customizable holiday events with networking spaces, full-group discussion spaces, and intuitive features that your team will love. Book a demo to see how easy it is to host your holiday party with Frameable Events.

Categories
virtual events

Yes, You CAN Take the Author Tour Virtual—a Conversation with J.D. Netto

Despite decades of predictions of their demise, print books are far from obsolete, with U.S. sales up 8.9% to 825.7 million in 2021, up from an estimated 757.9 million in 2020. These figures include approximately 1 million new books (or new editions of previously published books), which traditionally would have been marketed in part through multi-city book tours and exclusive book launch parties.

But just as the Duvet has killed the top sheet, COVID-concerns have largely killed —or at least significantly scaled back — publishers’ appetites for large-scale in-person gatherings. Many publishing industry events went virtual, while others, including BookExpo, BookCon, and Unbound, were permanently retired. That left many authors looking for a new way to regain the connection with their readers and the sense of closure these parties offered.

We reached out to artist, multi-genre best-selling author, and entrepreneur J.D. Netto to find out if he could recapture some of the joy and connection of his previous book launches with the Frameable Events platform. Here are the highlights he shared with us about his experience hosting his launch party for his latest book, Immortal Crowns, online.

The Initial Transition Away From In-Person Book Events Was Disappointing 

“For my first book launch, I threw a Gothic masquerade party,” says J.D. Netto. He continued with book tours and in-person book launch events until COVID safety concerns pushed most book events virtual-only in 2021.

“One of the first virtual book events I held was on Zoom, and I felt so disconnected,” he said. “As an artist, I really enjoy meeting and interacting with my community. I enjoy talking about my work with people, and I want them to get to know me beyond the curated social stream. With a one-way video event platform, it cut out that entire aspect of what made those events meaningful for me.”

Unfortunately, many virtual event platforms require designated moderators to move people around manually to enable 1:1 networking and advance planning to give specific attendees permission to talk. While these limitations may work for some passive viewing events or very small group breakout room conversations, it significantly limits the ability to curate an event with a spontaneous flow and impromptu interactions.

How Frameable Events Brings Back That Book Launch Energy

One of the first things J.D. noticed as attendees started to arrive at his virtual book launch party was the wide array of unexpected guests who quickly found their way in the door.

“Some of the readers who attended the event shared what they were doing on their social channels, with the registration link,” he says. “So, as we were kicking things off, new people I didn’t already know were joining.”

The ability of the platform to allow spontaneity extended to changing up the flow of conversation by inviting community members to share the virtual stage and ask J.D. questions or talk about their experience with his books.

“The best part [about the platform] was, I or my co-host, author Sasha Alsberg, could invite someone up from the audience to be on stage to talk,” he says. “And as the conversation progressed, we could see the reactions from the audience and questions in the chat feed. It felt so much more natural, and like an in-person event.”

Thanks to the positive, engaging experience he and Sasha had with the platform, J.D. plans to continue hosting virtual launch events, even when large-scale, in-person book events make a comeback. Why? Because of their ability, to enable him to connect with readers around the world whom he couldn’t otherwise meet. 

“Virtual launch tools like Frameable Events will continue to be valuable, as a sustainable and attainable way to connect with the entire world,” he said. ”I’m looking forward to hosting an even bigger, more interactive virtual event next time.”

Host Your Most Engaging Book Launch yet with Frameable Events

Are you planning a book launch? Request a demo today to see how Frameable Events can make your virtual book launch party almost as fun as celebrating your book in person.

Take your virtual events to the next level

Book a demo
Categories
virtual events

Two User Experience Experts Explain How To Design Accessible Virtual Events

Do you know how to design an accessible virtual event experience? Despite the return of in-person gatherings in some areas, virtual experiences are still important for enabling as many members of your community to join and engage in your event. And after more than two years of hosting predominantly online events, companies have a solid roadmap to follow regarding virtual event accessibility.

To help you design an accessible virtual event, we connected with Melissa Eggleston and Rachel Wendte, two user experience and accessibility experts, to learn about virtual event accessibility considerations for event planners. 

Check out their advice in this post on how to design an accessible virtual event, and see their direct answers to our questions about designing accessible virtual experiences below.

What is web accessibility, and how does it come into play when you are hosting an event online?

Rachel: “Web accessibility is making your online offering as simple to use for as many people as possible. That means considering tools, your language, and your presentation so that everyone can be involved. For an online event, that may mean using a platform that enables closed captioning, or offering a transcript for attendees. It’s also ensuring that your event is hosted on a platform that’s friendly to multiple kinds of devices.”

Rachel: “On the one hand, a lot of businesses were forced to see the things they’d been missing for standard event prep. They learned new tools and adopted broader event protocols to welcome more folks. That’s a good thing! But as more events go back to in-person focus, some of these ‘just for the pandemic’ trends are falling away. People are more aware, but some companies were only offering virtual events because we were forced to be home. Now the thinking may be, ‘well my audience is back in the office, so I can be done with this.’ But SO many trends that adapted to people being homebound also applied to the millions of individuals who are already homebound for other reasons. Recognizing that this audience still exists, pandemic or not, is a great step for the companies who want to continue to embrace virtual events as part of their strategy.”

What are some of the easiest accessibility features to implement for online event platforms and their registration websites?

Melissa: “Live captioning is the obvious one for those without hearing or who can’t have sound on, but I would also encourage events with a single speaker and slides to make the slides available for download during the talk. The slides themselves need to be accessible, with alt-text for images for example. If the slides are in a PDF form, they should be saved as a reduced-file size PDF when possible so they aren’t a huge download in terms of file size. Having slides available also helps anyone who might be running into technical issues due to low bandwidth, internet connectivity problems, etc.”

Rachel: “Two simple things that are great for everyone. 1. Make sure that you add alt-text to your primary event image with the name of the event in the photo. This helps people using screen readers verify that they are on the right page. ‘People are gathered in a mixed group for the 1st Annual Discussion on Accessibility Trends, hosted by ABC Company.’ 2. For any CAPTCHA verification, make sure that the registration website offers an audio and visual version.”

Are there any web accessibility challenges event producers should keep in mind when promoting events through social media?

Melissa: “Please use hashtags that are more readable, using camel case! For example, use #DigitalMarketing instead of #digitalmarketing. The capital letters make it easier to read. Using a camel case hashtag also signals to your audience that you are paying attention to accessibility.”

Rachel: “If you have painstakingly put in the time to create a graphic that has a text overlay and you don’t populate the alt-text with what the image actually says, screen readers will skip right over it. Images with no alt-text are skipped because there’s nothing to read, so it won’t even register as being on the screen. For online ads, make sure the ad text says everything you need to and the image reinforces that. In addition, keep hashtags to the end of your posts (easier to read) and use #CamelCase when creating hashtags (capitalize the first letter of each word) so that there is a natural separation.”

If you have a limited budget, what is the most critical accessibility functionality an online event should put in place and why?

Rachel: “Every organization will have their priorities when it comes to events. For me, the easiest thing businesses can do when they create an online event is to have a replay or recording available. Sometimes people sign up for things and then at the time have limited energy. Others need to listen to things more than once to get it. Having a replay or recording is a simple way to include your largest audience share. You can offer ‘live only’ perks to encourage live attendance, but offering this as an option is a good way to be inclusive.”

How can events do a better job of making live-streamed Q&A sessions more accessible to their entire audience?

Rachel: “Have a submission form for questions ahead of time. That’s a place to start! If you do a live Q&A, have the moderator write out the question in the chat, and phrase it out loud so that everyone can hear. So if I were taking a question from the audience I’d listen and then repeat it back. For example, ‘Marcee just asked a question around captions. She said, [what the person said]. Here’s my answer.’ This ensures that everyone hears, reads, and understands what was being asked.”

Do you have any examples of virtual or hybrid events with exemplary accessibility in the design?

Melissa: “The free conference put on by Deque called Axe-Con does it great. And they should because they are accessibility consultants. This is a free virtual conference each year that you could attend to see best practices. For each speaker (this year they had Seth Godin, for example) Axe-Con had live captioning, an ASL translator, and accessible speaker slides available for download during the talk.”

Is there a common web accessibility misconception you see come up frequently? If so, how do we myth bust it?

Melissa: “The myth I see is that you can ignore accessibility without consequence. Putting aside the moral argument that it’s the right thing to do, accessibility lawsuits continue to be on the rise. Although the courts to date have been split on whether a website is a public space of accommodation, The Department of Justice recently put out guidance on compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to state and local governments (Title II) and businesses that are open to the public (Title III). The bad PR that may come from being inaccessible is significant. Avoid promoting your organization as inclusive until you’ve made efforts in the accessibility realm or you risk looking uncaring and inauthentic.”

Rachel: “The biggest myth I see come up with accessibility is the idea that you’ll get to it when it matters to your audience. I promise you that there are people who would love to be part of your audience, and accessibility measures don’t just help those with disabilities. They help everyone. Even if your audience appears to be one without limits, who’s to say that that will still be true tomorrow? People go through phases of need, and assuming that you’ve got it all covered and ‘don’t need accessibility’ does a disservice to your future (or current) customer.”

Host Accessible Virtual Events with Frameable

Don’t let accessibility be an afterthought when planning your next virtual or hybrid event. As Melissa and Rachel pointed out, accessibility should be a top-of-mind concern that will help your event reach and engage the greatest number of people.

As you explore virtual event platforms, be sure to ask about the key accessibility features included and ways that the platform was designed for accessibility. We built Frameable Events to support many accessibility best practices, such as in-app messaging, live captioning with multi-language translation, and concurrent video streams for sign language interpreters. Check out all of Frameable Events’ accessibility features and book a demo to see how we can help you build an accessible virtual event.

Categories
virtual events

10 Virtual Event Accessibility Tactics To Maximize Your Event Reach

Many event planners mistakenly view accessibility as a nice-to-have, which is a disservice to your event community and greatly limits your event’s potential. 

You may not realize that more than 430 million people worldwide experience ‘disabling’ hearing loss, and 247 million experience moderate to severe visual impairment or blindness. Crafting an accessible event spans more than physical ability, too, to include considerations like internet and technology access and literacy, work/life commitments, and mental disability. 

We connected with two accessibility and user experience experts, Melissa Eggleston and Rachel Wendte, to explore what accessibility means in the virtual and hybrid event space and how event planners can prioritize accessibility at every step of their planning. 

What Is Accessibility For Virtual and Hybrid Events?

Virtual and hybrid event accessibility aims to remove barriers when your audience seeks to join and engage in your event. Accessibility impacts every step of the event process, from registering for the event to joining sessions and navigating the virtual event platform.

Web accessibility is making your online offering as simple to use for as many people as possible. That means considering tools, your language, and your presentation so that everyone can be involved,” Rachel says. “For an online event, that may mean using a platform that enables closed captioning, or offering a transcript for attendees. It’s also ensuring that your event is hosted on a platform that’s friendly to multiple kinds of devices.”

Not only is it the morally right thing to prioritize event accessibility, but blatant disregard of accessibility could pose a legal threat to your team, Melissa warns. “Accessibility lawsuits continue to be on the rise. Although the courts to date have been split on whether a website is a public space of accommodation, the Department of Justice recently put out guidance on compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.” 

What Are The Main Accessibility Considerations for Virtual Events?

To ensure that your event adheres to accessibility best practices, consider and address each of these key areas:

  1. Audio and Visual CAPTCHA: “For any CAPTCHA verification, make sure that the registration website offers an audio and visual version,” Rachel recommends. 
  2. Camel Case Hashtags: Melissa says you should “use hashtags that are more readable, using camel case. For example, use #DigitalMarketing instead of #digitalmarketing. The capital letters make it easier to read. Using a camel case hashtag also signals to your audience that you are paying attention to accessibility.” 
  3. Image Alt-Text: Every image used to promote your event through your website, email communications, or paid advertisements must include alt-text. “Make sure that you add alt-text to your primary event image with the name of the event in the photo,” Rachel says. “This helps people using screen readers verify that they are on the right page. [Include alt-text like] ‘People are gathered in a mixed group for the 1st Annual Discussion on Accessibility Trends, hosted by ABC Company.” 
  4. Live Captioning and Sign Interpreters: Some of your event attendees will be unable to access your event audio. Melissa advises that you enable live captioning for those without hearing or who can’t have sound on. As a best practice, you should also include sign interpreters alongside all event sessions. 
  5. Make Slides Available for Download: Give attendees the ability to download optimized and accessible slides ahead of each event session. Provide slides in a reduced-file size, so they take minimal time and space to download. Melissa says that “having slides available helps anyone who might be running into technical issues due to low bandwidth, internet connectivity problems, etc.” Giving attendees advanced slide access will also allow them to review the materials ahead of time in case they have difficulty processing everything during the live session. 
  6. Plain Text Versions of Invites: Many event organizers share flashy, heavily designed invites through email. Be sure to include a plain text version of your invite (and all event communications) so the message is accessible to everyone. 
  7. Pre-Field Questions: A submission form for questions ahead of each session enables anyone to submit questions at their convenience without speaking up during the session or accessing chat features.
  8. Share Replays or Recordings: Virtual event session replays or recordings are a core element of event accessibility. Rachel explains that “sometimes people sign up for things and then at the time have limited energy. Others need to listen to things more than once to get it. Having a replay or recording is a simple way to include your largest audience share.”
  9. User Test the Experience: Once your event materials are staged, test the experience using a screen reader. Can someone effectively engage with the entire event platform and agenda with a screen reader? 
  10. Write Out and Repeat All Questions:  “If you do a live Q&A, have the moderator write out the question in the chat, and phrase it out loud so that everyone can hear,” Rachel recommends. “So if I were taking a question from the audience, I’d listen and then read it back. For example, ‘Marcee just asked a question around captions. She said [what Marcee said]. Here is my answer.’ This ensures that everyone hears, reads, and understands what’s being asked.”

Accessibility Is An Ongoing Event Essential

Event accessibility—for virtual and live events alike—ensures that everyone in your ideal event community can fully engage with your event and gain the most value from that experience. Put simply, accessibility cannot be an afterthought for event planners.

“I promise you that there are people who would love to be part of your audience, and accessibility measures don’t just help those with disabilities. They help everyone,” Rachel adds. “Even if your audience appears to be one without limits, who’s to say that that will still be true tomorrow? People go through phases of need, and assuming that you’ve got it all covered and ‘don’t need accessibility’ does a disservice to your future (or current) customer.” 

Address the ten event accessibility considerations we explored above to keep accessibility top-of-mind throughout your event planning. To help you further, check out our full Q&A with Melissa and Rachel.

We built Frameable Events with key event accessibility concerns in mind, including in-app messaging, concurrent video streams for interpreters, and a web-based experience so anyone can join from a desktop, tablet, or mobile web browser. Learn more about the platform’s accessibility features and book a demo to see them in action.

Categories
virtual events

6 Tips To Achieve Optimal Virtual and Hybrid Event Success

Despite the resurgence of in-person events, savvy event planners know that virtual and hybrid experiences are here to stay. Now comes the tricky part: how can you best blend event offerings to provide the most value to your community? 

Mike Allton, head of strategic partnerships at Agorapulse and virtual event strategist, has hosted more than a dozen virtual summits and webinars and 100+ live-streamed video conversations. Mike joined me ane the #ContentChat community of marketers and content creators to share his best practices for designing engaging virtual and hybrid event experiences. 

Let’s break down his top takeaways to help you drive the most success with events this year. 

6 Tips For Virtual and Hybrid Event Success in 2022

Event planners who can craft truly audience-focused, problem-solving, and joy-inspiring events will receive the greatest reward from their activities. Virtual event attendee expectations are higher than ever, but these tips can help you create meaningful events regardless of the format: 

Be Realistic About Your Team Resources

Any virtual or hybrid event requires considerable effort. Mike says that while virtual events are often less logistically challenging and more affordable than in-person or hybrid events, there are still plenty of challenges associated with hosting them. Assess your resources including your team’s bandwidth to handle an in-person or hybrid event. If you are new to these experiences, we recommend starting small with a simple virtual event before tackling a multi-day hybrid event. 

Survey Your Event Communities

Before making any decisions about your upcoming events, speak with your event community. First, you need to deeply understand their current needs and goals for any event type. Then, ask these questions through surveys or in 1:1 conversations:

  • How comfortable are you with in-person events? 
  • What are the “must-have” elements for you to attend an in-person event?
  • What challenges are you facing in your job? 
  • How do you prefer to network and engage with other event attendees?

You can only build a compelling event agenda with presentations that will truly help your audience with these details in hand. 

Establish Clear Event Goals

Based on the feedback from your event communities, establish your event goals. Once you know your goals, Mike says you can more easily determine the ideal event format and what you’ll need from your virtual event software platform

Make Networking and Engagement Effortless

As many of us know from first-hand experience, most virtual events fall flat on networking and engagement. Too often, virtual event experiences are viewed as glorified webinars, which misses the bigger opportunity. As Mike says, “it’s the Magical Moments during networking that make the events stand out for attendees.” To reinforce this priority, schedule networking time in your event agenda. Additionally, create space for attendees to network, including open rooms with conversation prompts to spark dialogue. And don’t forget the potential power of social media to engage your event attendees.

Mike starts his events with 30 minutes of speed networking so attendees can connect 1:1 for five minutes each, meaning each attendee meets six new people first thing. This sort of built-in networking activity can be helpful to break the ice in a virtual setting, especially for your more introverted attendees who wouldn’t otherwise introduce themselves to others.

Offer Different Event Types To Accomplish Specific Needs

For most teams, the best event strategy in 2022 is to offer a mix of virtual, hybrid, and in-person events to appeal to unique community needs. For example, Mike is planning a series of major virtual summits, smaller virtual meetups and webinars, and a hybrid event (likely) in Paris this Fall. 

Repurpose Event Content to Drive Ongoing Traffic

Recorded event sessions provide a gold mine of content potential. Repurpose all your event content to offer new ways for your community to engage with the material, including blog posts, infographics, podcasts, social video clips, and templates. 

Evolve Your Virtual Event Strategy in 2022

Most people are not ready to give up on virtual events, which presents an incredible opportunity for brands to build on their event successes from recent months. Continue to survey your event community to understand their needs, and explore new event offerings to find ways to delight your community further.

If you’re looking to learn more about creating successful event experiences in 2022, read through the full #ContentChat recap here and learn more about how Frameable Events can bring your next virtual or hybrid event experience to life

Make your next virtual event more engaging, by design

Book a demo
Categories
virtual fundraising

How to Surpass Your Virtual Fundraiser Goals Through Community Focused Incentives

Virtual fundraisers have helped nonprofits and local groups alike raise much-needed funds and preserve their community throughout the pandemic. Even as the world begins to resume in-person gatherings, online fundraisers provide a lasting opportunity to reach more people and provide supporters a convenient way to help your organization achieve its goals.

To help you plan your next online fundraiser, read on to learn about the three best online fundraiser formats and our tips to raise the most money possible by prioritizing your community. 

3 Easy and Effective Online Fundraiser Ideas

Online fundraisers operate just as effectively as an in-person fundraiser, as long as you have the right virtual fundraiser platform.

Here are three traditional fundraising ideas that work well online, with tech considerations for each:

Silent Auctions

A silent auction enables your community to silently bid on a selection of goods or services. These online fundraisers require minimal team effort, considering that your supporters can browse booths and proactively submit bids on their own.

To host a successful virtual silent auction, create a room for every item or service so your guests can learn more about what’s up for bid, chat with the prize providers, and further connect with their community. Ideally, your event technology will support in-platform bidding, or you can use a shared document for your supporters to enter their bids. 

Live Auction

A live auction requires more coordination than a silent auction, but the energy and excitement could be essential to helping you beat your fundraising goals. At a live auction online fundraiser, all of your supporters will join one virtual room to bid on your prizes in real time.

Online live auctions require a virtual event platform that supports a main presenter stage to showcase the item up for bid, with concurrent video streams to show the auctioneer and current highest bidder. An online chat function and nonverbal reactions can support the bidding process. 

Paddles-Up Events

Your live or silent auctions can involve a paddles-up component. These fundraisers feature donor packages, in which any fundraiser attendee can pledge a donation within a specific range, potentially including benefits for each tier. Offer package tiers that enable anyone to pledge support of any amount, from $5 to $500 or more. 

Make annual giving more fun by tying the asks to specific items. For example, if you’re raising funds for an elementary school, ask for five $500 donors for a laminator and lamination supplies, two $400 donors for a Cricut electric cutting machine for crafts, and five $200 contributors for the cutting machine supplies. This makes the gift feel specific and meaningful, versus the equivalent of a virtual Visa gift card. 

How To Source Great Online Fundraiser Items

Understanding the best format for a virtual fundraiser is one hurdle. But, your team also needs to find items to auction off. 

When planning a virtual fundraiser, think further than physical items or gift certificates for auction prizes. Frequently, nonprofit organizations overlook the many talents and passions of their supporters when it comes to sourcing auction items. 

Partner with your member community to find ways to promote their services or support their passions while helping raise much-needed funds. For example, a social media consultant in your community might be happy to contribute a 1:1 coaching session as a raffle item. Or, a supporter with a viral Instagram account could offer to amplify the winning bidder’s content and mention them on their Instagram account. Other supporters might have in-demand hobbies that could make great auction items too—like dog walking, painting classes, garden plant starts, free yoga sessions, etc. Encouraging the donation of these highly personal goods and services can make your auction more enticing for your entire supporter community.

In addition to auctioning off big-ticket donated goods and services, involve your community in some aspect of your group’s day-to-day operations. If your nonprofit is raising funds for a new building, you could auction off the chance for someone to help direct the design elements of the building, like picking from a selection of images for the entry or choosing plants to have out front. A pet charity, as another example, could offer the chance for the winner’s beloved pet’s photo to appear in an edition of the member magazine or be part of the next charity calendar. 

Just be cautious if you auction the chance to name something of importance. You don’t want a Boaty McBoatFace situation

Exceed Your Fundraising Goals with Social hour

Our team has helped countless nonprofit organizations and community groups host successful virtual fundraisers that exceeded their goals. And we’re ready to help you, too.

Learn more about how our virtual fundraiser platform can help you run an amazingly fun and effective live virtual fundraising event today.

Categories
virtual events

How To Effectively Use Pre-Recorded Video Content To Enhance a Virtual Event

As event organizers plan their virtual and hybrid events, it’s common—and important—to ask which content should be pre-recorded, and what should be live-streamed.

From an event planning perspective, it’s essential to have a combination of pre-recorded and live-streamed content to have more control over creating an ideal attendee experience. The tricky part is understanding how to effectively blend these content types—especially when it comes to breakout sessions—without your virtual event feeling like a glorified webinar.  

Read on for an overview of the best ways to use pre-recorded content at a virtual event to help your team strike just the right balance between the live event you want and the consistently exceptional experience your attendees deserve. 

Advantages of Pre-Recorded and Live-Streamed Virtual Events Video Content 

Whenever possible, we recommend that you survey your anticipated event attendees to understand their feelings toward live-streamed or pre-recorded content and what type of sessions they prefer for each delivery. For example, a customer panel or general event session may be ideal as a pre-recorded session, but an executive AMA or a how-to educational class will benefit from real-time audience interaction.

Where Pre-Recorded Event Video Excels

As you assess how to balance your virtual event agenda, consider these primary advantages of pre-recorded content over live-streamed sessions:

  • Accessibility. Event teams can add captions to pre-recorded videos, and overlay visuals or text elements that enhance the content’s clarity.
  • Greater speaker diversity. Your event has the potential to attract more speakers if sessions are pre recorded, because it reduces the potential for scheduling or time zone conflicts. Similarly, the lack of a required travel budget opens up your speaker pool to include industry experts from the nonprofit, academic, and pre-funding startup realms.
  • Show flow control. It’s stressful to manage an entirely live event. What if a session runs late? Or a fire alarm goes off in the middle of your opening keynote? Not to mention finding a last-minute replacement for a mainstage speaker that cancels the day before your show. Pre-recorded content gives event planners total control over their event’s timing, ensuring a perfectly executed show flow. 
  • Higher production value. Pre-recorded sessions allow speakers to practice and record their sessions as many times as they need, which means that pre-recorded sessions are often higher quality than a livestreamed equivalent. Additionally, the show producers can review all recorded content and ensure there is a consistent production quality for each, which leads to a more cohesive event experience. Plus, technical issues such as presenters with slow internet connections can be avoided with pre-recorded event sessions. 

When It’s Best to Go Live

While there are many advantages of pre-recorded virtual event content and breakout sessions, you cannot deny these benefits of live-streamed sessions:

  • Innate excitement. There is a natural excitement that comes from a live-streamed session, both for the speaker and the audience. In some cases, speakers will prefer live sessions because of this excitement. 
  • Real-time engagement. Audience participation and engagement is an ongoing challenge for virtual event planners. Live-streamed sessions generally are more likely to garner attendee engagement, giving these session types a slight edge over pre-recorded sessions (but we’ll explain how to overcome this challenge next). 
  • Recording potential. Live-streamed sessions can be recorded, too, which can provide your attendees with lasting value from your event as they watch session replays. Just keep in mind that most live-streamed session recordings will need some degree of post production editing before being ready to share. 
  • Spontaneity. People miss the “in-the-now” feel of an in-person event, and live-streamed sessions have the best potential to capture this feeling given the live audience. Live speakers can reference other sessions from the day, comment on shared conference experiences, and adapt their presentation to add excitement, spontaneity, and an undeniable sense of authenticity they simply can’t do in advance of your event. 

How To Make The Most Of Pre-Recorded Virtual Event Sessions

Event planners can consciously craft experiences that turn pre-recorded conference content into exciting, real-time engagement opportunities. Here are just a few ways that you can drive the most value from your pre-recorded virtual event sessions:

Coordinate Virtual Event Watch Parties with Session Speakers 

Pre-recorded virtual event sessions are ideal for enabling your event speaker(s) to engage with their audience in real time through your virtual event platform. While a session plays, the speaker watches the session with the audience, and sends messages through the event platform to highlight key points, answer questions, and solidify the real-time event experience. 

Create Video Teasers For Social Media Promotion and Email Marketing

As your team receives videos from your session speakers, create clips and stills from these videos that you can use on social media and in your email marketing. Create sizzle reels that highlight your event speakers, and tag them on your event social media pages to connect attendees with the speakers. 

Edit Videos for Accessibility

Ideally, your team should receive pre-recorded virtual event videos from session presenters a few weeks to a month before the event (if not sooner). This way, your team can address the accessibility best practices we shared above, including adding captions to videos, addressing any issues with lighting or contrast, and more.  

Share Videos For Immediate On-Demand Replay

A major advantage of pre-recorded video content is that it can readily be available for on-demand replay. This gives your attendees full control over when they enjoy a session, especially if they had to miss it due to a work or family commitment. 

Choose A Virtual Event Tech Platform That Enhances The Attendee Experience

By strategically blending pre-recorded and live sessions at your virtual event, your team can more confidently control the event timing, meet the range of your attendee needs, and support a thriving event community.

After building your event agenda, your team can lock in a virtual event platform that will enable the dynamic session styles that your attendees deserve. Book a demo with Frameable Events today to learn about our superior presentation spaces and modern features that will ensure that every event session is incredible. 

Bring your next virtual event to life with Frameable

Book a demo
Categories
virtual events

10 Virtual Event Sponsor Opportunities That Are A Win-Win

Virtual event engagement is a pressing challenge for nearly 35% of virtual event planners. Luckily, there is an easy and effective way to both boost your event engagement and help cover the costs of a virtual event—virtual event sponsors.

In 2021, event sponsorship was the number one source of virtual event revenues, but a shocking 22% of event planners were completely unable to generate revenue in a virtual setting. 

Event sponsors provide a vital way to help offset (or even cover!) your event costs. They can also be instrumental in creating a genuinely engaging and well-rounded virtual event experience for everyone involved.

To unlock the total value of your event sponsors, your team must understand how to develop an enticing virtual event sponsorship package to attract the best sponsors—let’s explore how. 

What Is The Value of Having Virtual Event Sponsors?

Virtual event organizers will elevate their attendee experience by partnering with event sponsors, but these engagements must be mutually beneficial to ensure long-lasting success.

By partnering with event sponsors, event organizers can more effectively meet their attendee needs. Complementary solutions providers and recognized brand thought leaders can lend a necessary third-party perspective to your event. These providers can also answer attendee questions and provide resources to meet needs that your team cannot support. 

However, you cannot expect virtual event sponsors to readily line up and donate their time and resources to support your event without some element of “what’s in it for me?” That’s why host organizations need to explain and deliver on the potential value that their event can provide to sponsors. At a minimum, virtual events can help boost a sponsor’s brand awareness, grant them access to qualified leads, drive social media engagement, and achieve several other marketing and business goals. 

10 Virtual Event Sponsorship Ideas

The best way to attract prospective event sponsors is to create a dedicated page on your event site that discusses sponsorship opportunities or sponsorship packages. Then, promote this virtual event sponsor page across your social media channels and through targeted email outreach.

The preliminary information you share should set the seed for 1:1 conversations with prospective event sponsors. In these conversations, you should discuss what the partner hopes to gain by sponsoring your event and explore potential custom agreements that will meet their goals and deliver on your attendee needs.

To help you get started, explore these virtual event sponsorship ideas either as standalone opportunities or group them in event sponsorship packages that will appeal to the range of your event sponsor goals:

  1. Attendee Email List: Virtual event hosts can offer sponsors access to the event attendee email list. Be sure to clearly communicate to your attendees that their information will be provided to partners if they check the box to opt-in to allow this permission.  
  2. Breakout Rooms and 1:1 Meetings: Virtual events bypass the physical limitations of in-person events. Provide dedicated digital space for your sponsors to connect with attendees, conduct demos, and discuss their product or solution. Be sure to explain to event attendees how they can access these rooms and what value they will gain by speaking with your sponsors. 
  3. Email Marketing: As you engage with your virtual event community through email, highlight your event sponsors. Include promotional messages, spotlight their event session or booth, or share their content that may be of value to your email subscribers.
  4. Event Branding: Promote your virtual event sponsors across your virtual event space. This is similar to the promotional banners, tablecloths, floor mats, and other in-person visual branding elements, just placed across every page and aspect of your event website and virtual event platform.
  5. Giveaways and Contests: Generate excitement with your event attendees by giving away event sponsor materials. These contests and giveaways can take place before, during, or after your event in exchange for your attendees submitting lead generation forms, engaging with event exhibitors or sponsors, or completing actions across the virtual event platform. 
  6. Polls: Host branded polls throughout your event as a way for your event sponsors to get direct input from your attendees. Partner with your sponsor to decide what questions you will ask and exclusively provide them with the poll results. Or, offer any sponsors the ability to access the poll results, but only if they opt for that sponsorship option. 
  7. Social Media Promotion: Promote your event sponsors across your event social media channels, with an increased number of posts that highlight your sponsors versus general exhibitors and partners. Consider creating promotional videos or other visual assets that will increase your audience’s likelihood of engaging with your sponsors’ social media content.
  8. Sponsored Sessions: Allow brands to sponsor your sessions or topic tracks with varying levels of exposure. At a minimum, promote an event sponsor alongside each of your event sessions by adding their logo and branding to that session. Depending on the arrangement, each event sponsor could directly engage in the session, such as introducing the speakers, moderating a conversation, or participating in a panel. At the highest sponsorship tier, you can offer for sponsors to create an entire conference session. Just be sure that the topic will be of interest and value to your attendees. 
  9. Swag Bags: In addition to giveaways and contests, swag bags are a great way to get company branding and products directly in the hands of your event attendees. Enable sponsors to provide materials for swag bags that will guarantee their brand exposure. 
  10. Virtual Sponsor Booth: Much like an exhibitor booth, offer your virtual event sponsors a space to engage with attendees and curate an experience within your virtual event platform.

Use a Modern Virtual Event Platform to Build Lasting Sponsor Relationships

Each of the 10 ideas we shared above can entice your prospective virtual event sponsors, but that’s only part of the event sponsorship equation. The virtual event platform you choose can significantly limit your ability to achieve your full event sponsorship potential.

Virtual event sponsors need dedicated space to engage with your attendees. A comprehensive virtual event software platform will allow you to fully customize the rooms and branding to maximize your sponsors’ value. Learn how Frameable Events can bring your dream event to life and help you cover your event costs through smart sponsor relationships.

Take your virtual events to the next level
Book a demo