September 3, 2021

3 Tips For The Return To Face-To-Face

4 min read
By Josh Breese

Latest UK government figures show over 68% of adults are now fully vaccinated, while 88% have received at least one dose. With lockdown restrictions lifting in many countries (and becoming stricter in others), business leaders are asking themselves what the “new normal” could look like for learning and development, and whether it’s finally time for a return to face-to-face.

While Covid has provided opportunities for incredible innovation in virtual events and experiences, the L&D space is seeing a gradual uptake on F2F programmatic events for the latter half of 2021 and beyond. Many people leaders are looking into bringing cohorts back together now that it is considered safe to do so – particularly those who have not met each other in person yet.

Although some are eager to return to the world of physical events and experiences, it’s natural that many are still hesitant to do so. Here are three tips to help ensure that your return to face-to-face events is a welcome one:

1. Consider a hybrid approach

Is it possible to deliver an impactful experience online? Our research says yes. Forward-thinking companies are capitalising on the benefits of virtual programmes such as increased inclusivity, more accessibility, and greater sustainability.

With new strides being made in the virtual event space every day, the industry is seeing a greater demand for hybrid learning programs, where a select few events will return to F2F while others will remain in a virtual format.

And with Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace booming, it’s crucial to account for the 20% at every point in your design. Consider the sessions you run – might these have a greater impact on your participants in-person or online? Is there anyone who could be left behind by a return to face-to-face? Could you give participants the option for both?

2. Equip your people with the right training

When planning a face-to-face event in a post-Covid world, your priority should be the safety of your participants and colleagues at all times. Consider physical safety, psychological safety (i.e., perceptions and environment) and inclusivity – all critical factors of an effective learning experience.

By the time Team Smarty return to F2F events, each of our on-site delivery team members will have undertaken a course on Covid Secure Events that equips them with the knowledge on how to appropriately assess and act upon Covid risks within a F2F training environment.

Consider carrying out Covid-specific risk assessments that will complement your existing contingency for the events you deliver. Outline exactly what you are planning to do to mitigate risk in this area.

3. Communicate the details

The return to physical is, understandably, a source of anxiety for many. Researchers have begun studying the possibility of “Covid Anxiety syndrome” and examining the potential residual impact that over a year of global lockdown may have had on our psyches.

Your participants will need to feel comfortable and safe in order to have an impactful experience, and clearly communicating the measures you have taken is one way to help alleviate their concerns.

Continuously monitor government advice and regulations to ensure you are staying up to date with the most accurate information. Then, assess each of your events on a case-by-case basis and work closely with your participants to ensure they understand all contextual information, such as:

  • Event purpose and objectives
  • Venue size
  • Participant numbers
  • Venue amenities such as sanitising stations and face mask requirements
  • Transmission in the local area
  • Transport to and from the event
  • Existing venue regulations


Sticking to virtual?

Our Virtual Inductions Toolkit will equip you with all the tools you need to design an induction that will engage, equip and accelerate your new talent. Virtually.

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