Many people have said that real life big meetings and conferences are dead, and that we'll all only be doing virtual from now on. This may be a bit premature, as now on the return from our annual "Aspire" kickoff in Bellevue, I'm reflecting on all of the fantastic things it brought our team at @Apptio.
Firstly, many of the sessions could have been done virtual. You can learn about the latest product improvements and process improvements on a remote session easily. What you miss, is the excitement and buzz in the room as something is announced, an award is given to a high performer, or the lively discussion afterwards over coffee or even something stronger. Multi-person conversations don't work on zoom or other platforms because the time zones are wrong, or the subtle body language is completely ignored. The casual nature of walking up to key people because you see they are ready for a chat, is something you don't get remotely.
Conveying emotion and passion is so much easier in real life. Having the chance to get the team together and have some shared experiences is valuable. One such shared experience was the chance to chat with sales legend "Skip" Miller, and have him coach and present to our team. We were able to have learning activities in mixed teams, bringing together talented team members with diverse backgrounds and stories to share. While you can do remote training and skills sessions, I doubt you'll see the same high level of engagement and desire to learn on a call.
I do hope the idea of real life meetings, and the travel, shared meals and chances to socialise are not dead. We will review the value from our live session and look at how we can quantify it. Perhaps we'll be able to measure the success of the lessons we learned, the new connections to peers and team members, the value of team.
Most of all, I think we'll value the memories of the session, and if in some distant future we struggle to get big teams together, we'll remember with fondness at how much fun it was and how it made us feel more confident in our work.