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Unleashing innovation: Conferences in the hybrid workplace
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Ruth Collett
22nd January, 2024

Unleashing innovation: Conferences in the hybrid workplace

As organisations increasingly work remotely and asynchronously, face-to-face conferences have a crucial role to play in our modern work environments.
The modern workplace keeps on evolving. As we enter 2024 (four years since the beginning of the COVID pandemic!) we, like any mid-sized company, find ourselves constantly navigating these new challenges and opportunities for change in the workplace. The Adaptavist Group has been remote-friendly since long before COVID, but the transformation post-COVID ensured the doors remained open to virtual collaboration. We said 'no' to mandating teams to be in the office, yet the true potential of workplace innovation will remain untapped without the company investing in face-to-face interactions.
This true potential is unlimited, but it includes solutions for navigating new challenges, spotting new opportunities for growth, and ensuring increased value for our customers. Workplace conferences should be seen as vital ecosystems that bridge the gap so that a remote-friendly company can thrive! They provide a space where creative, technical, and diverse minds can converge, fostering curiosity and driving innovation beyond the limits of virtual settings.
With these aims, we have endeavoured for several years to arrange annual end-of-year conferences regionally across the areas where we operate globally, to gather staff and allow them dedicated in-person time with colleagues—both within their departments and those with whom they would not normally work closely—as well as rewarding them for their contributions throughout the year.
In my role as CMO of The Adaptavist Group, I have been fortunate to both lead the organisation of, as well as attend, many of these conferences, and I have seen some of our most successful projects spring up from exactly the kind of organic cross-department teamwork that they facilitate.
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Following the conclusion of 2023's company-wide conferences in December, I thought I would delve into why I see these conferences playing a pivotal role in cultivating innovation and more—especially in the age of flexible working environments.
  1. Curiosity and collaboration
    Remote work offers flexibility, but can often lack spontaneous interactions that fuel curiosity and collaboration—call it the water-cooler chat, if you will! Conferences bridge this gap, fostering curiosity and enabling professionals to collaborate beyond virtual confines and more through osmosis.

    It's not just the ad-hoc discussions that fuel innovation, either. I also believe these serendipitous encounters drive deeper connections among employees and teams, and provide insights beyond virtual meeting confines. These deeper connections drive collaboration long after the attendees have returned to their homes.

  2. Catalysing learning
    Investing in conferences is an investment in continuous learning, exposing employees to diverse insights and ideas. Some of these might be within the context of their regular work—for example, learning, as I did at this year's conferences, about what really does make the perfect business case—or maybe gaining an understanding of all the investments we are making in AI across the breadth of The Group.

    But some of these investments may go beyond our regular and routine interests. The ability to simply take a step back from day-to-day work to look at some of the wider bets we are investing in, maybe in areas that are beyond our traditional responsibilities, promotes joined-up thinking in this respect to ask 'how can and should this affect me, my work, and my team?'

  3. Fostering ecosystem thinking across The Adaptavist Group and challenging the status quo
    You can think of a business, particularly a group-structured business like The Adaptavist Group, as an ecosystem in its own right—these conferences serve as hubs for ecosystem thinking, breaking down unhealthy silos, fostering cross-disciplinary and cross-business-unit collaboration, and navigating some of our business complexities to drive long term growth across the full breadth of The Group. Cultivating strong partnerships internally makes us stronger and informs the way we nurture partnerships externally.

    Investing in conferences becomes integral to fostering a mindset that transcends traditional industry boundaries. We need to look beyond the normal source of information to obtain a clearer, deeper understanding of specific problems and needs. We should wear various lenses to ask challenging questions and continually strive for better.

We are growing, and fast—not just in people numbers but across new regions and markets, continuing to operate both in offices and remotely. Strategic investments in conferences emerge as powerful tools for unlocking innovation across teams outside of Zoom calls, building expertise outside of direct specialities, fostering collaboration outside of direct teams, and nurturing curiosity across the board. In the dance between virtual and physical, conferences are essential bridges that connect us together, ultimately driving greater success in the ever-evolving landscape of our business. I'm proud to have been able to bring that to the forefront of our 1,000+ employees at the close of 2023, taking everything we've learned straight into this year ahead.

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