Are Conferences Dead?

Business practices are changing overnight because of COVID-19. With most people working from home and in-person conferences canceled for the foreseeable future, we're all having to adapt to this new way of doing business. As no one knows when things will go back to "normal," many are starting to wonder: are business conferences gone forever? Not necessarily, but the current circumstances change the way we think about, host, and conduct these events until it's safe to host them in-person again.

Even with events halted, employers can provide workers with the same knowledge and insights from the comfort and safety of their homes.

Conferences come with their pros and cons

Conferences have traditionally provided opportunities to learn, build relationships, and help their companies grow. According to a report from Wired, many groundbreaking and industry-shaking ideas were formed at some professional work conference. Most employees want to tune in with what's going on in their industry, and conferences can incentivize them to be forward thinkers.

While conferences allow people to network and enjoy themselves, they don't come without flaws. Some can become echo chambers, where accomplished professionals pat themselves on the back rather than share new industry insights with attendees. On top of that, they can be expensive. Some conferences turn their events into award-show style productions with interactive technology, light shows, and sound effects, which can cost attendees a fortune. For instance, before Adobe's Summit conference went online this year, it cost nearly $1,700 per ticket — and those were the early bird prices.

3 distant and viable alternatives to conferences

Until the pandemic is over, businesses must adapt to hosting these gatherings online. Fortunately, many already have. Online conferences don't always come with the same energy and excitement as in-person ones. However, they can still effectively promote learning and growth to employees. Here are a few avenues that can work:

  • Digital training sessions: Training can help employees boost their performance and provide them with more skills currency. Fortunately, training sessions are easy to host anytime from anywhere with a good internet connection. Apps like Webex or Microsoft Teams can allow employers to share their presentations with anyone logged into the training session. And if they have questions at the end, they can type their inquiries and concerns into the chatbox. If they prefer to ask questions verbally, they can use hand-raising features to take turns speaking.
  • Hybrid events: Some businesses are on the hybrid model, where departments take turns coming into the office. Suppose one department hosts a small conference or event that requires some human interaction, they can host half of the event online and the other half in the office. If employers choose this route, they should be clear about what days managers and employees are expected to be physically present.
  • Digital credentials: Conferences can allow people to share a great wealth of knowledge. However, employers don't always have ways of measuring that knowledge after a conference is over. If employers want their employees to retain and apply those lessons long-term, digital credentials can help. Credly can provide employees with competitive and comprehensive credentials that give them an advantage in a crowded and competitive market. Our intuitive credential dashboard can help employers create a dynamic achievement recognition system that helps issue such credentials.
Rolling with the changes in uncertain times

In early 2020, no one thought the world would change the way it has. While many companies and their practices got sidelined by the pandemic, adapting to the current situation can help them and their employees become more resilient, well-rounded, and able to tackle any challenges or problems that come their way.

At Credly, we help employers create a robust, smarter, and more versatile workforce. When knowledge employees have equitable access to opportunities, the possibilities are endless. With our credentials, we can help you help your employees by giving them the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

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By Patricia Diaz