FEW, IF ANY, positive things have come out of this pandemic and the prospect of it being a long ride to the end is forcing a lot of changes in our work lives, most likely many of them permanent. One positive for many? some? has been the shift to remote working. I’ve heard a decent handful of management-level people who were dead-set against remote working as recently as a year ago change their views. Though it was forced on us, in many instances, after an adjustment period, companies are discovering that it not only works but has resulted in increased productivity and likely happier employees.
A related positive is cancelled trade shows and conferences; not the cancelled part but the virtual/online option because it’s opened doors. I’m confident that many of you have run into the travel-budget brick wall when it comes to conferences that you know would help you advance the company and/or your career. “There’s only enough money for one person.” “We’ve had to cut travel funding so you can’t go to the event this year.” “We can’t afford to have you out of the office for that many days.” The online conferences being held this year and likely some of next year, take big chunks—airfare, hotel costs, meals--out of that brick wall.
The event that’s most on my mind these days is the upcoming SMRP Virtual Conference, Oct. 20 and 21, smrp.org. Total cost to your company is the $250 registration fee if you’re an SMRP member; $350 if you’re not. That sum must be available in some budget. The only other concern is time to watch/listen to sessions and even that’s relatively minimal. You don’t need a day to travel to the event and another to travel home, so that cuts your “time away” in half. Even those show days aren’t completely lost.
As an experienced remote worker, you know by now that you can continue to do your regular work and have conference sessions on at the same time. It’s also unlikely that you’ll find a session of value/interest every hour of each day, so you can plan things such that you “attend” sessions of interest and do work that requires full attention during the hours you haven’t scheduled a session for yourself. You’re not going anywhere, so work that lags during the day can be handled later or early the next morning.
If you miss a session you want to attend because the paying job required your attention, that’s not usually a loss. Most conferences record sessions and make them available to paid attendees after the event, so you can watch/listen later. I don’t see any indication yet that the SMRP event will be doing that, but they have in past years, so I would expect that practice would continue.
Nothing beats in-person industry events. The exchange with colleagues from other companies and industries during breaks, meals, and after hours is often more valuable than the sessions. But the number of people who can attend live events is, understandably, limited. Virtual shows are a different ball game. Many more people can attend at relatively minimal cost to the company. Take a few minutes to find out what conferences are coming up in your world and sign up.