At the end of September, we were pleased to welcome guests to our exclusive hybrid event, “The Future of Hybrid Working”. We showcased the 3D virtual event worlds we are building and launched our latest product offering - always-on virtual workplaces. Our 3D workplace is designed to solve many of the challenges businesses are currently facing with hybrid working. They allow business communities to connect and create in real-time, through avatars or shared experiences. It offers an always-on digital environment: and explores how the metaverse ideology can be applied for business use.
Those of you who already know us, will know we create 3D virtual worlds and models for a range of sectors. Over the last 18 months, we have experienced substantial levels of growth in the 3D virtual events space. We have delivered a virtual fan event for the Women’s UEFA Champions League Final, been shortlisted for the 2021 Rapid Growth Award at The Prolific North Tech Awards and Pivot Entrepreneur of the Year at the the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, just to name a few highlights!
After seeing so much success with one-off 3D virtual events, we have reacted to client demand by further developing the platform to offer ‘always-on’ 3D virtual workspaces.
The Future of Hybrid Working event was broadcast from Bonded Warehouse, Manchester, and had an online 3D replica that our attendees could explore from the comfort of their own working area, whether working from home or in the office. We had attendees from the UK, Asia and Australia from a wide range of industries and sectors. To attend, guests only needed an internet connection and a link - no need to download any software or apps.
Highlights from the event
Our event had experts in all fields contributing insightful knowledge about what hybrid working means to them, digital employee wellbeing, 3D virtual events and the future of the digital world. Here we summarise the key takeaways.
Wellbeing in a virtual world
A key theme of the day was the wellness of employees, which PixelMax believe should be a primary concern for businesses. Sarah Clarke MBPsS, Organisational Psychologist at Occupational Mind Group, spoke brilliantly about wellbeing in the hybrid world. With remote and hybrid working, it can be harder to manage the wellbeing of employees, as teams are often spread far and wide. As a society, Covid-19 has taught us that we need to work smarter, and that includes making our teams’ mental health one of the priorities.
Tech companies have often been at the forefront of employee wellness - remember the ball pits and sleeping pods in Google offices? But they were office-based initiatives. And wellbeing isn’t just about socialising and having fun. Now our eyes have been opened to the fact that hybrid working can actually work, our approach to well being needs to adapt.
Businesses are starting to realise that to tackle employee wellbeing in a hybrid world, they need to look at the platforms their teams are using as this is where they now spend most of their time. Businesses that invest in the right software for their employees will be the ones that are more likely to successfully transition to a long term hybrid solution. Employees need a platform that encourages collaboration with teams, and that has always-on meeting areas that bring back the spontaneity of office culture and the natural human connections. Now, more than ever, businesses must invest in software that brings us together, no matter where we log into work.
Our panel debate was moderated by David Smalley, Director at Material Source. The panel discussed how they had been impacted by the pandemic and the solutions they had developed to make hybrid working actually work. Credersi and The ATACC Group, pre-pandemic, relied on delivering in-person training sessions. Read more about 3D worlds PixelMax created for them to allow them to deliver their training virtually without losing any of the impact.
The panellists also discussed who will be the winners and the losers of hybrid working. The innovators and the businesses that accept the world has changed forever came out top in this debate. Amy Lawson, Marketing Director at PixelMax also talked about the importance of offering flexible working practices, as there is no one size fits all. Employee well being was also high on the agenda in this debate, reiterating some of Sarah Clarkes earlier points about how we need to adapt. For hybrid working to really work, businesses need to find a way to put all employees on a level playing field, regardless of their physical location.
The Great Resignation took place over the summer of 2021, with an estimated 41% of employees considering quitting or changing professions. Nurturing your employees and understanding that the needs and wants of staff have evolved is becoming ever more important. The pandemic encouraged employees to think about their lives and allowed a shift in priorities. Employees who may have been considering a change may have been pushed to breaking point by companies who didn’t offer enough support. Adopting a culture of good communication, and considering the needs and wants of employees will benefit everyone.
Career Development and Hybrid Working
Several of our experts discussed the impact that hybrid working could have on employees that are in the early stages of their career.
Recent graduates and those at the start of a new career, it was argued, can often benefit from being in the office. They lack on the job training and making sure we don’t let this generation down was a key point of discussion.
Andrew Mawson (AWA) highlighted that there has been an evolution of organisational and management style, and much of this is because of the recent developments in technology and remote working. Many workplaces have become more trusting of employees. This also means that much of the spontaneity in the office has been lost, including those “water-cooler” moments and informal chats that can inspire and encourage team members. However, with good technology and software adoption, those who are fully remote at the start of their careers should not be at a disadvantage.
On the job training is not to be underestimated and having a platform that employees can use remotely and in the office is important for the training and development of staff. There must be freedom to ask questions, understand processes and understand the culture of a workplace. Harmonising the physical and virtual spaces will benefit everyone in an organisation.
PixelMax’s event world showcased several features and highlighted what’s possible in a hybrid world. A highlight was the wellness area, demonstrating further insight from Sarah Clarke on wellness in the hybrid world. There was also a case study area, which amongst others included a case study from The ATACC Group and UEFA. Other features included networking opportunities, mini-games, live chat with exhibitors and also an opportunity to speak with our founders and ask any questions.
Future of Hybrid Working
PixelMax’s co-founder Shay O’Carroll talked about some of their plans for the future. PixelMax believes that there should be no detriment on any employee, whether you attend work or an event in an office or remotely.
PixelMax has always used a pull model when developing new products and features. We have always looked to develop what the market is asking for, we don’t develop tech and push it out. We have worked with a number of steering committees over the years that have helped us shape our offering. It would have therefore been amiss to not ask attendees at the event for their input on what we develop next! Attendees were able to vote for the feature they would like to see come from our platform next through a poll. The guests clearly seemed to go for avatar creation. This will incorporate avatars into our virtual spaces and make the interactions seem even more natural. We can’t wait to bring our platform even more to life with the addition of avatars!