The Opportunity of a Hybrid Model

“Success in a hybrid work environment requires employers to move beyond viewing remote or hybrid environments as a temporary or short-term strategy and to treat it as an opportunity.”

– George Penn, Managing Vice President, Gartner
black and white image of a bearded man with a handlebar mustache sitting at a desk in an open office environment, he is laughing and has a strip of paper with "be happy" taped to his forehead, his computer screen shows some angled designs with various style and texture photos pieced together.

As companies try to bring more of the workforce back into the office, they are being confronted with differing hybrid vs full return to office models and reports from the experts, not to mention employees who are reporting higher levels of stress and varying rates of engagement. There’s no doubt that the effects of the pandemic and how it shifted societal views are being felt the world over. Now the question is becoming “Can we return to the way things used to be?” Or rather, “Should we be trying to?”

In June, Gallup released its State of the Global Workplace report, which states that 44% of the 122,000 employees it surveyed felt “a lot of” stress. These feelings of stress led to 51% of employees actively or passively looking for a new job. That rate of turnover is extremely detrimental to a company on every front. Between the hours needed to onboard new team members and the culture shift that happens with each new departure/arrival, progress and efficiency slow, which only leads to a rise in stress and frustrations.

So what should employers do? Will a sweeping return to office mandate help? Well, not necessarily. Gallup also reports that feeling disengaged has 3.8 times the influence on stress-levels as opposed to work location. It’s less about whether or not an employee is in office versus remote, and more about them feeling adequately utilized and properly cared for as an individual. In fact, when asking the “Quiet Quitters” of the survey, 41% say they would make their current company better with engagement and company culture, especially as it relates to recognition, opportunities to learn, fairer treatment, and clearer goals.

A team pretends to lose a member in a small waterfall.

Now, this all should be viewed as an opportunity. An opportunity to reset. An opportunity to meet your employees where they are. Take the time to understand what their personal and professional goals are, help them connect with their colleagues, and have meaningful interactions with them on a regular basis. Otherwise you risk an increase in burnout and active disengagement. Here’s a few easy ways to go about making those meaningful connections.

1. Have weekly meetings with your employees

Nothing helps build an IRL connection like meaningful conversations. Whether they’re just a weekly check-in or an in-depth progress report, it’s important to make sure you have an understanding of how your employees are doing, beyond simply what they’re doing. Do they want an opportunity to grow in their career? Are they overwhelmed by a certain project? These meetings should be a process of making your employees feel both seen and heard. Find ways that you can help them take that next step in life.

2. Host a networking or team building event with a twist — in-person or remote 

Think outside the wine mixer. The goal of networking and team building events is to make sure that people are fostering new connections in the workplace. CEI has loads of different ideas from game shows to casino nights to charitable events that will bring your whole team closer together and maximize their networking potential.

3. Be mindful of your remote employees

Make sure that every team member feels like they’re a part of the larger community. It is easier to have pop-in conversations when everyone is in the same building, but don’t neglect the talent that chooses to work from home. Make time for them, and actively seek out their input. Have a hybrid event coming up? Try to make it so that remote employees can still connect with their in-person cohorts.

Conclusion

The world has been forced to change a lot over the past few years. Every market and every industry is being presented with these changes. Don’t fear them. Accept these changes for the opportunities that they are. Opportunities to reconnect in new ways, and to build something brand new. 

Get Your Team Outside

A team jumping for a photo outside.
Spring is springing all around!

It turns out that our parents might have been on to something. Over the past few years there has been a grassroots movement gaining momentum in which doctors have begun prescribing their patients time outside. As that sample set has grown we’ve begun to notice more and more benefits for a growing list of common ailments — both mentally and physically. Benefits range from reduced heart disease and depression symptoms to increased creativity and better focus. 

The benefits of the great outdoors extend beyond the personal and into the interpersonal dynamics of teams. Team members find themselves more engaged in the workplace after interacting outside. That’s why we here at Corporate Event Interactive love getting outside, and it’s why we’ve designed a number of programs to get you and your team outside as well!

A Breath of Fresh Air Goes a Long Way

A team pretends to lose a member in a small waterfall.
Reach a greater potential outside.

Inside of the office is overloaded with stimuli. There’s the obvious ones such as the blue light from computer screens and the ringing of phones, but there’s also the subtle flicker of fluorescent lights and the imperceptible hum of electricity — all of which forces the body to release the stress hormone cortisol. Heightened levels of cortisol have been linked to heart disease, weight gain, and a suppressed immune system. Step outside, and the body starts to flush all of that away. Plus, according to the USDA, a mature tree will provide enough daily oxygen for four people. That goes a long way to mitigating the effects of asthma, as well as promoting a higher brain function.

Now why would a company built around bringing you exceptional events and making your meetings unforgettable bother with all of these reports about health benefits and better breathing? It’s simple, we care about you and your team. We understand how these benefits go beyond the singular and can revamp the workplace into a more connected environment with increased productivity.

How to Get Everyone Outside?

We’ve curated experiences and programs to get your team outside, while also cultivating relationships and promoting your goals and objectives. Each and every one is entirely customizable and can accommodate groups of all sizes. 

iQuest Chicago

Explore the history of our beloved city while completing exciting challenges and answering trivia in and around famous Chicago landmarks. Our app-based scavenger hunt takes your team on an interactive tour of the Windy City unlike any other.

Event logo for Corporate Olympiad

Corporate Olympiad

The torch is lit and the flags are going up! These aren’t your traditional Olympic Games though. Compete in olympic-themed challenges like maneuvering through the rings, sweeping soccer balls through a course, and run a marathon with a javelin – er, pool noodle – between the team.  All the while earning points to take home the gold medal.

iQuiz Summer Social 

Soak up the sunshine while completing whimsical challenges during this refreshing summer-themed experience. Teams work their ways through our customizable app-based game board, while also competing in randomized pop-up challenges from our professional emcee. When time is up and the points are tabulated, we crown the winners of summer.

Conclusion

Don’t wait until the weather changes to schedule your spring and summer events. Check out any of the above and see what else we have to offer here. I have to admit that it was really hard to write all of this while sitting inside and staring out the window. I’m gonna go for a run now. Schedule your outdoor event now! 

5 Ways to Show Your Employees Some Love

It’s Valentine’s Day. The day of showing those around you how much you care through gifts and acknowledgements. While the Saint of Romance’s day may only be 24 hours, it is important to show our colleagues how much they mean to us throughout the rest of the year as well. There are plenty of ways to go about showing your employees some love, but here are 5 ways that we feel work the best.

1. Gifts and Personal Notes

We as humans have not gotten past the joy that can be spread in the grade school Valentine’s Day. We love getting gifts and notes. Even something as small as some candy and card still lights up the happy parts of our brains.

Beware of “Jelly of the Month Club” Syndrome though. Managers need to make the gifts and notes personal — be sure that they actually matter to the employee receiving them. Handwriting the notes is an instant way to make them feel personal. When a handwritten note is combined with a simple gift, it shows how much your employees mean to you and your company.

2. Recognize Their Work

People like to be recognized for the work they do. Recognition may seem like a relatively small thing, but the impact that it can have on an employee’s attitude and their overall productivity is massive.

A Society for Human Resource Management blog post reports that when they are recognized 90% of people feel like their work is more meaningful and 93% say they feel like they fit in more at their company. When employees feel a sense of meaningful belonging, they are more likely to stay with the company, which reduces turnover and the costs associated with the process of continuous hiring. The SHRM post went on to say that 78% of recognized people felt more productive and 79% more likely to work harder after their recognition.

What’s more? When employees are recognized for their work, they feel happier in every aspect of their lives.

3. Create Meaningful Moments

Employees are more likely to stay when they feel like they belong. A key factor in the sense of belonging is an employee’s comfort in being vulnerable. That isn’t to say that they need to feel comfortable talking about their deepest, darkest fears or the problems they are having with their mother. Instead, employees get the boost in belonging from interactions that Gallup calls “meaningful moments.” Gallup says, “The four types of meaningful moments are:

  1. When you propose a new idea
  2. When you ask for help
  3. When you push back on something
  4. When you ask for a personal favor”

These moments are integral to making an employee feel seen and heard. Gallup continues, “In meaningful moments, how other people receive an employee’s vulnerability is critical. It creates a loop: A great culture allows an employee to take vulnerable risks, and a positive response to vulnerability builds a great culture — and the opposite is just as true.” Invite employees to dedicated times to offer an idea/opinion or ask for help. This may mean setting up office hours or having a networking event that makes teammates feel more comfortable on the whole.

4. Have Social Gatherings

A great way to make employees feel more appreciated and comfortable is through social gatherings and company networking events. Maybe it’s setting up a monthly happy hour, or maybe it’s a full-on casino night. If you’re looking for a fun atmosphere with games and some fun competition, here are some types of events that we’ve created:

Gather together for a night of fun table games !

Do you believe in a chance meeting over a game of chance? Have your guests test their luck while having fun! Watch them cultivate relationships while playing Black Jack, Poker, Craps, and Roulette at your company’s own Casino Night!

Have a fun night getting to know your colleagues and their social media!

Get ready for a networking extravaganza at your next meeting! Featuring a series of exciting challenges, social media interaction, and fast-paced bonding activities, Social Scavenger Hunt is designed to elevate everyone’s experience.

Have a friendly competition, while testing your knowledge of Chicago!

Is Chicago your kind of town?  In iQuiz Chicago, your team will explore the Windy City’s popular attractions, fun facts, and hidden gems right from their chairs. It’s the exciting, interactive adventure played through your smartphone.  Equipped with our app as your guide, teams learn about Chicago’s amazing history, answer trivia questions, and complete iQuiz challenges in a friendly Chi-Town style battle.

We are happy to adapt and customize any of these events to fit your business needs.

5. Give Back to the Community

Nothing brings a team together like giving back. Having a charitable event is like putting all of the above into one 2-3 hour event. Plus, showing your company’s philanthropic side is proven to build even more trust and buy-in from your employees. Giving back benefits everyone involved. If you need help planning a way to give back that includes games and activities everyone will enjoy, check out some of our offerings below:

Teams compete while building care kits for patients going through chemotherapy.


Guests build relationships as they engage in a friendly competition and assemble items for Lemons of Love, a non-profit organization that provides support and community to people living with cancer. They ‘help cancer suck less’!

Bike Building Workshop
Teams assemble bikes for a local charity while competing in fun challenges.

Transform your event site into a fully functional bike shop as guests use teamwork, creativity and ingenuity to build and accessorize youth bicycles for underprivileged children in the community. 

Teams race through the surrounding area to collect/buy donations to a local charity.

Have fun doing good with iQuest For a Cause! Utilizing our iPads with the latest GPS and Image Recognition technology, teams hit the streets and stores of Chicago (or other fun shop-til-you-drop area) in search of adventure and items for a local charity.

Team Building = Your Best Investment

With all the questions floating around about what 2023 will bring, wouldn’t it be nice to know that our teams will be more efficient and effective than they were last year? What if there were a way to ensure that this year will be stronger than the last? What’s the one investment that can guarantee returns year in and year out? The answer to everything is simple…

It’s team building!

It has been shown that team building boosts morale and employee buy-in, but 2023 is going to continue to present new challenges and another wave of this, that, or the other thing — how can it benefit the bottom line? Team-building events are guaranteed investments back into your employees, and chances to get them out of the conference room and onto their feet, thinking about issues in new ways, with different people, building interdepartmental trust and letting their hidden abilities shine.

A team building a bike to donate to a local Chicago charity.
A local company putting together bikes to donate to a Chicago charity.

Bringing Remote Workers Together

Coming into 2023 it is hard to deny that remote and hybrid work is here to stay for many companies of all sizes. Outside of manufacturing and the events and entertainment industries, a lot of top-tier talent is pressuring employers for not just a hybrid schedule, but the ability to work from wherever. With more of the workforce working remotely, it is crucial to find new ways of connecting away from the breakroom.

This is where team building thrives. Team-building events are proven to develop positive relationships between employees and lead to a more satisfaction with the work they do. Working with Corporate Event Interactive (CEI), we will create an event that cultivates these relationships and fosters a deeper sense of belonging on your team. This will make for a more positive work environment and sense of community regardless of an employee’s proximity to the office.

Creating Relationships and Building Interdepartmental Bonds

It’s no secret that the foundation of team building is about creating relationships and building bonds. The name of the game is building teams. But those bonds don’t stop at departmental lines. In fact, team-building events can be a great way to help employees see each department and gain a better understanding of their colleagues’ positions. This understanding will help prevent problems, while also giving teams the necessary tools to work through any issues as they arise.

At CEI, we have a lot of programs that bring companies together and help them work interdepartmentally. Beyond resolving conflicts, interdepartmental bonds can generate new perspectives on projects. When employees feel more comfortable with their colleagues, they become more open to their ideas. This openness can lead to greater efficiency company-wide because not only are more innovative ideas being created, but teams are more aware of what each other are doing.

A team of new hires receiving their awards.
The winning team of a new hire orientation event.

Finding New Team Leaders

Team-building tends to show the different roles that employees step into when confronted with challenges. Some will take on any hands-on or physical tasks, while others excel at puzzles. Something to look out for is those leadership qualities that emerge from tasks. It might not be the one completing the task or even the loudest group member, but there will be team members that are better at encouraging their peers and pulling them through when a roadblock becomes all the more challenging. The new setting of a team-building event may give those natural leaders a chance to reveal their abilities that might not be as easily seen in a normal work environment — especially if they’re only ever seen through a Zoom window.

Should Employee A take on a new role? Will they thrive in a group with Employee B? Team-building events are great pressure cookers to help managers identify the strengths and weaknesses of different employees and teams. A better understanding of these attributes will help build more effective teams in the future, as well as assign tasks that will play to an employee’s abilities and better utilize them. When employees feel that they are better utilized, they perform more efficiently and more effectively.

Getting Together To Give Back

Organic teamwork comes most naturally from activities built around collaboration. Collaborative efforts makes employees feel more connected to each other and better supported in their work environment, and nothing builds collaboration quite like a cause. Whether that be a volunteer opportunity or a charitable event, when employees experience and take part in their company’s compassion, they feel a sense of pride in the work they do on a day-to-day basis.

The team at Corporate Event Interactive loves to help companies give back to a variety of causes. We love handcrafting events to meet your company’s needs, while connecting directly to those who will receive your donation. We’ve previously partnered with dozens of charities, clubs, and centers throughout the Chicagoland area. Need help figuring out your next charitable event? Let us help you out.

The CEI team behind a table of donations for a local charity.
We love to help teams give back.

Every New Beginning Comes from Some Other Beginning’s End

The end of another year is the perfect time to take a moment to reflect, and to take stock of all that we’ve accomplished. We here at Corporate Event Interactive have been so fortunate to play a role with so many companies this year who sought to come together, some for the first time. Seeing all of these faces join together to give back to the community or to go on a scavenger hunt or just to mingle and play some friendly games has been a joy for us.

One of the winning team’s at a Bike Building Workshop.

Team building turns a company into a community. It could be as simple as sharing little known facts or as complex as solving a series of riddles to escape from a deserted island. Our aim at CEI is to get your team out of the cubicle (or bedroom turned office) and into a state of play. This play-state breaks down the barriers between coworkers and helps them connect in a deeper, more meaningful way. Our CEI team makes sure that everyone becomes engaged and gets to know each other — developing deeper bonds and helping them function more effectively and efficiently.

As we close this chapter called 2022, we are excited to see what’s next for you. We know that the past few years have not been easy, but we are ready to help where we can. The workplace continues to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing world we live in, and our CEI team is overjoyed that you trust us to help your company become a community.