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Leaping into the new year

To 2021 and beyond!

We’re fully anticipating that 2021 will see the biggest number and scope of new year’s resolutions the world has seen for decades.

Taking a look at Australia, consumer confidence has hit a 7-year high with the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Survey rising by 2.5 per cent in November, its third monthly rise in a row. The survey measures the change in the level of consumer confidence in economic activity, and is now tracking 13 per cent above where it was for the six months before the pandemic hit in March. This largely follows the government’s submission of a draft budget to parliament in early October.

As we move positively ahead in 2021 then, what have we learnt about ourselves and what are the opportunities for the year?  Here are a few simple observations.

1. Internet and social media usage  has increased, as travel and connecting with people physically has been restricted. In fact, Australians have set a record for internet usage after the country was forced into lockdown earlier in the year. Since August, download rates almost doubled to 16.2 terabytes per second, compared with the pre-COVID traffic baseline. Our (Story Strategist) internet usage has increased 60 per cent year on year, closely aligning with the national trend of 70%. With this trend likely to continue, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher , speaking at the National Press Club in September, announced a $3.5 billion upgrade to the NBN!

“...with lots of people working from home over video, uploads are up nearly 110 per cent.” Paul Fletcher MP

Many businesses and homes can look forward to significant improvements to internet upload and download speeds as NBN co. invest billions of dollars into the network. Many will experience benefits within the next 12 to 36 months.

2. As long as you’ve got a wi-fi connection you can connect with anyone anywhere, voice or face conversations, multi-person meetings, heck we can even watch or participate in a conference on our phones if we want to. There’s no longer any excuse not to be available for a Zoom call, even if you’re on the move!

3. We can work from home, allowing us to work smarter, more flexibly around our families, whilst simultaneously doing our bit to reduce carbon emissions. Working from home has been legitimised as valuable and effective to a business's bottom line.

Of course the down-side to limiting our physical meetings has been the increase in mental health issues that have come about, particularly in the early months of the pandemic. Local and overseas studies concur that social distancing and the prolonged restrictions to human movement have increasingly negative effects. on individuals and the population. 

"...pandemic-induced impairments in work and social functioning were strongly associated with elevated depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as decreased psychological wellbeing." Paul Stokes (edited by)

The big take-away? People need real, human, physical contact. It kind of confirms what we've instinctively always known, right? Zoom meetings will never completely replace the importance of gathering with one another in person. Phew! We've gotten tired of reminding people the etiquette of online video conferencing. On a side note, have you watched our recent fun video? Collated from real world experiences! If not, here it is...

For 2021 we’re predicting the new normal will likely see events, meetings, conferences, and large gatherings be more of a hybrid style of event, i.e. a combination of both, where the option of gathering online will be supported by the availability of human connection and greater engagement by an in-person option for those able to travel. What’s certain is that we won’t go back to the old normal. The online virtual space will always be available. Our belief is that it shouldn’t be a second-rate experience. We’re designing hybrid events that make every effort to provide an excellent experience for both online and in-person participants.

Brand engagement with audiences is essential. Conference attendance may have been on the decline for years, however the demand for information has never gone away. Information is sought from online sources, online webinars and niche online platforms make information more accessible than ever. The physical conference space has to be seen as a significant add value for it to remain of interest.

Story Strategist is able to help you navigate the journey.

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