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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.

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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

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remote work

Cutting Through the Metaverse Hype to Find the Real Future of Work

Over the past few months, I’ve watched the business press come full circle on the Metaverse. First, there was the hype about how virtual reality and augmented reality were the future of everything. Now, it’s a ballad of disappointment about how lackluster Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the Metaverse is turning out to be so far.

It’s important to note, however, these articles aren’t saying that workers don’t want to work remotely and don’t need a virtual environment — just that Meta’s version of the Metaverse isn’t the virtual workspace anyone’s looking for. So let’s take a look at the most shared and commented-on articles to gain insight into what people actually want in a virtual workspace.

The Metaverse in 2040 (Pew Research)

As with the rest of Pew’s research portfolio, this research provides a balanced view of the Metaverse and its pros and cons. The 624 technology experts they interviewed expect to see ‘extended’ reality become part of our daily lives by 2040. But they also foresee augmented-reality and mixed-reality tools gaining traction, vs. the more-fully-immersive virtual reality worlds currently synonymous for many with the Metaverse.

This article also has some pretty on-the-nose criticisms, including this one, which delves into the motivations behind some of our biggest ad-tech companies being the pioneers of the Metaverse:

“The term metaverse was coined to describe a corporate, dystopian hellscape where a completely financialized world is stripped of any culture and value. Advocates of the metaverse are currently trying to bring that vision into reality in the hopes of creating new digital surfaces that can be covered in new advertising and made as addictive as possible. As the physical world encounters saturation of existing advertising surfaces and data collection, augmented reality is the new frontier of surveillance capitalism. If it does come to fruition, it will be as terrible as social media is today.”
— Justin Reich, associate professor of digital media at MIT and director of the Teaching Systems Lab.

Reich has a good point, even if you aren’t a social media naysayer. We’ve seen the unintended negative consequences of how platforms like Facebook have monetized their users’ data for the benefit of advertisers. Imagine what could happen if those companies who couldn’t handle your personal data already had access to your workplace’s intellectual property and private information.

Meta Quest Pro: A $1,500 Virtual-Reality Headset for Working in the Metaverse (WSJ)

While Google Cardboard is an affordable way of accessing the Metaverse’s VR worlds, no one wants to strap cardboard against their face for hours of meetings. It’s designed for occasional use for a leisure activity—not for wearing all day in a work environment.

While Facebook already had a $400 headset in the market, it wasn’t meant for prolonged use at the office. So they introduced a $1,500 virtual reality headset that’s more comfortable, has improved controls, and can track your eye and facial movements and sync them with your Metaverse avatar. Presumably, the buyers of this state-of-the-art headset are, as the WSJ surmises, architects, engineers, and designers, plus tech early adopters.

Unfortunately, the article notes, the new headset’s charge only lasts for 1-2 hours, depending on what you’re doing while wearing it. It then needs to recharge for two hours before you’re ready for your next meeting. I guess that could work for those who have chosen the 4-hour workday. But for busy professionals who can have days of back-to-back meetings and collaboration sessions, it’s problematic on many levels.

As the author quips in closing, “I just think we’re going to need something a little cooler than avatars gathered around three-dimensional Excel sheets for this whole metaverse thing to take off.”

The Metaverse Doesn’t have a Leg to Stand on (Literally)

While there were dozens—if not hundreds—of articles making fun of the floating bottomless avatars populating the Metaverse, these two stood out for their approach to covering the announcement from the Meta team that legs were in the works for their floating avatars.

Presumably, the developers who are surprised by the general public’s lack of enthusiasm for this news may also be unaware that MMORPGs like the World of Warcraft have had 3-D avatars with legs for almost two decades. And to be fair—we’re not controlling those avatars with our body movements. But the fact is—no one cares if it’s going to be hard to do. The current offering just doesn’t meet modern consumers’ expectations.

Legs are finally coming to Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse, Vox

“The fact that now Zuckerberg is prioritizing legs in the metaverse shows how much public perception of the metaverse matters, and that the toughest challenge to Meta succeeding may be solving the technology’s seemingly simple (although technically complex) visual problems. Meta needs to show that it’s in touch with reality, even as it builds an alternate universe.”

(Vox)

Legs are coming to the Metaverse and everyone is…underwhelmed, Mashable

This Mashable article rounds up Tweeted reactions to the addition of legs to the Metaverse, including these:

“Unsurprisingly, people are underwhelmed by the update, just as they seem to be about the metaverse. The same can be said for Meta’s employees, apparently.”

(Mashable)

So What Do People Want From a Virtual Office?

One recurring theme across these pieces, and other metaverse coverage, is people want a reason to log in to these virtual spaces to work. Not a mandate from the C-suite that they have to use these tools. They want these spaces to have unique persistent tools, resources, and frameworks that help them work better together.  Novelty is not enough!

While remote work has freed many people from the office, it hasn’t changed their desire or need to collaborate and have face-to-face time with their colleagues and managers—even if it is virtual. It’s our job to do our best work, and that means working together in many cases.  As one of the companies committed to making these virtual worlds of work inclusive and accessible to all, we know that in the end, the work is only as good as the people who can and do put their shoulders into it. VR headsets should not be required.

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.

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remote work

Frameable Launches ‘Spaces’ Virtual Office Platform, Commits to Accessibility and Sustainability Initiatives

Frameable launched our virtual office platform Spaces to the public yesterday at the conference Engaged @Work: Employee Experience & Talent Acquisition in New York City. As part of the launch, we have committed to an enhanced focus on accessibility and environmental sustainability throughout our product offerings.

It was exciting to share our platform with the conference attendees and hear first-hand the struggles they’ve had in creating a virtual work environment that meets the same standards as the physical workplaces they spent so much time honing to meet their employees’ unique needs. 

These conversations reinforced the decision we made to ensure WCAG 2.1 AA compliance throughout our software products, creating an inclusive user-experience for both administrators and guests. In addition to this accessibility commitment, we have also pledged to offset our annual carbon emissions on behalf of users.

We understand decision makers’ current apprehensions about committing to remote or hybrid work for the long term. Our ways of working have evolved, but the tools we are using have primarily stayed the same. At Frameable, we provide teams with a new way to effectively work remotely, while ensuring your virtual office is professional, reflects your culture, and is on-brand. Our focus on beautiful and intuitive graphic design and interaction design creates an experience that is easy to understand for the people using our platforms and easy to set up for the workspace manager.

Communication in the workplace is essential, but overreliance on legacy tools like email, text chat, and video meeting software can actually hinder productivity due to a constant state of filtering, interruptions, and stimulation. The average user sends and receives hundreds of business emails per day, killing focus and productivity. By uniquely supporting both impactful scheduled and unscheduled collaborations as well as individual ‘deep’ work, Spaces helps employees produce their highest-quality work by making it easy to ask for and receive help.

Learn more about how Frameable Spaces is an ideal remote and hybrid work platform and try it free for 14 days to see for yourself!

Transform your virtual office with Frameable Spaces.

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remote work

Why Hybrid Work Is STILL The Best Way To Keep Your Employees Happy (2022 Data)

The U.S. Labor Day holiday, or the first Monday in September, has long been seen as the imaginary line in the sand for when employers would require employees to return to the office—and brands like Apple, Prudential Financial, and BMO Financial all plan a return to office-based work this month.

But if you’re contemplating an entirely in-person work environment, you clearly haven’t been paying attention to what your employees want.

Data from recent months reinforces that employees demand workplace flexibility, and employers that mandate a full return to the office could destroy their workforce morale, likely causing a wave of departures in search of remote- and hybrid-friendly cultures.

Let’s look at data from the past few months to understand what employees want in terms of workplace flexibility and where employers may be misguided in their future of work strategies. 

The Current State of Remote and Hybrid Work — Summer 2022

The majority of U.S. employers currently offer remote or hybrid work settings, in part given rising COVID infections from new variants. Here is the most recent data available:

  • The majority of U.S. workers have hybrid work flexibility, with 35% being able to work from home full-time, and 23% working from home part-time—that reflects 92 million people (McKinsey). 
  • When employers offer some degree of remote work, 87% of employees work remotely at least one day a week, meaning just 13% reject the flexibility. The majority (58%) work from home at least three days a week (McKinsey). This data is supported by the Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes (SWAA). 

When looking to the future, 31.7% of U.S. employees want to work from home five days per week, and 16% want full-time office work. However, 27% of employers plan to not offer workplace flexibility post-COVID, and 22% plan to offer just one or two days per week to work from home (SWAA). 

This disconnect will continue to fuel the ‘Great Resignation’ and newly discussed trend of ‘quiet quitting,’ in which workers meet bare-minimum productivity levels. A Gallup poll found that at least 50% of U.S. workers are quiet quitters, which is caused by employers failing to provide clear job expectations and learning and growth opportunities for their team, as well as failing to prove they care about their employees.  

How To Future-Proof Your Workplace Culture

As shown by recent work-from-home data, most employees want at least a 50/50 split between time spent working from home and working from an office. Employers that fail to meet their employee needs will face waves of turbulence, including decreased employee satisfaction and productivity, and increased turnover.

So what is the best way to plan for the future of work? Ask your employees. 

It is vital to actively poll your team and understand what level of flexibility they need from their work arrangement. Managers play a key role in facilitating these conversations and reducing their team’s disengagement and burnout. 

Forcing everyone to return to the office is a radical shift from the freedom that employees have now come to accept, but you can find a middle ground that makes everyone happy—but it will also require you to redefine how you measure success. 

Building Connections in Remote Work

When looking at the commonly cited benefits of in-person work, employees value face-to-face collaboration and socializing the most. Both of these concerns can be addressed in a remote-work world—but a combination of Slack channels and Zoom rooms will hardly help your employees thrive.

We’ve built Frameable Spaces to give your hybrid and remote teams the same collaborative work experience the most productive in-office teams enjoy, enabling them to meet and collaborate in a natural and fully integrated way. Learn more about how Frameable Spaces is an ideal remote and hybrid work platform and book a demo today.

Transform your virtual office with Frameable Spaces.

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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.

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virtual events

The Social hour Virtual Events Platform is Now Frameable Events

We’re excited to announce we’ve just completed the rebranding of our virtual events site, Social hour, to Frameable Events.  While our events platform has always been part of the Frameable family, we are making this name change so this relationship is more transparent to users across our suite of digital collaboration tools, including our Frameable Spaces virtual office platform.

While the branding is changing, Frameable Events is still the same engaging events platform our clients have been raving about, thanks to our:

  • customizable layouts and branding that allow you to create an event that reflects your unique needs
  • intuitive UI, flexible profiles, and breakout tables that inspire real connections among event attendees and presenters
  • accessibility features included as part of every event package—not with limited availability or additional setup charges

When you host your event in one of our beautiful, interactive virtual spaces, your attendees, sponsors, and speakers will make the kind of connections they thought were only possible at in-person events. But don’t just take our word for it—see for yourself by booking a Frameable Events demo today.

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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.

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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.

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