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Exclusive: Conferences want to cure the work-from-home blues – TalkOfNews.com

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Conferences want to cure the work-from-home blues

#Conferences #cure #workfromhome #blues

Web Summit convened in Lisbon, Portugal, in early November, looking much like it had before the pandemic. The tech conference was held, as it usually is, on numerous stages in and around a giant arena. It took me a solid 20 minutes to walk from one end of the conference to the other, trying to wade through myriad company booths and demonstrations. Some 70,000 people milled throughout the space, wearing wristbands and badges, but few masks.

Many of the attendees spend the majority of their time working from home, and they use events like conferences as a way to get the professional interactions they’re missing. For them, work is for home, where people can concentrate. Conferences are for networking, socializing with colleagues or peers in your field, and getting experiences you can’t get working remotely. They see conferences as supplementing their ability to work from home: Hanging out with colleagues and clients in person a few times a year can be enough to carry them through months on end of video calls.

I’m also a remote worker, and I went to Lisbon to moderate a couple of panels and to try to figure out why people like me are leaving the comfort of their homes to travel across the ocean to an in-person conference when there’s still a pandemic going on. (Web Summit paid for my plane ticket and hotel, while Vox was on the hook for incidentals.) A number of people I spoke to at the event told me they were using conferences like this, as well as offsites and regular travel, as occasions to convene teams and even whole companies, since they don’t see each other as often while working from home.

“We took all of the money we saved on offices and we poured it into travel,” said Martin Mao, CEO and founder of software intelligence company Chronosphere, who uses those funds to get its 250 global employees together for conferences and quarterly reviews, as well as socializing. “We try to jam pack that into a few days, then everybody goes and does their work.”

The last time I’d been at Web Summit was in 2019, when it didn’t feel alarming to be around 70,000 other humans in real life. Aside from a smattering of masks, it didn’t look that visibly different.

What had changed was the emphasis. While the speakers (and moderators!) were still important, the summit leaned in to the more social and experiential aspects of the conference. There were updated versions of the familiar Food Summit (essentially a giant food court but held outside with 85 food trucks) and Night Summit (after-hours drinking and networking events held at trendy nightlife spots around the city). This wasn’t the first time they’d had these events, but this year these events were bigger and more prominent.

A similar thing has been happening at other conferences as well — at other giant tech conferences like SXSW, at smaller thought-leader events like Aspen Ideas Festival, and at sales conferences like Outreach Unleash and Seismic Shift. In addition to world-class speakers, conferences are touting their tropical climates, water sports, and wine tastings. They’re also being careful to orchestrate intimate in-person interactions they don’t feel can be replicated online. According to Kitty Boone, vice president of the Aspen Institute’s Public Programs and executive director of its Aspen Ideas Festival, the goal is to make it “something that they don’t feel they can miss.”

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People wearing neon orange hoodies and jeans hike down a green trail.

Eventgoers at Aspen Ideas Festival in June head to a nearby river to measure microplastics and view them under a microscope.
Leigh Vogel for Aspen Institute Public Programs

Like many things, the trend of turning conferences into immersive, interactive social events — rather than just ones where people passively receive information — existed before the pandemic. But the pandemic accelerated it, and as companies let workers choose where they work, those qualities are becoming more sought after.

“The main driver to come here was to connect with people and know what was happening in my world,” Jorge Dias, a mobile content manager at telecom Altice, told me while eating a food truck lunch outside at Web Summit.

This is all good news for the trillion-dollar business events industry and for business travel in general, which, unlike restaurants, concerts, and leisure travel, has far from recovered from the pandemic. Global conference attendance is at just half what it was in 2019, according to data provided by demand intelligence company PredictHQ. Business group travel spending, which includes spending on meetings and events like conferences, is at 68 percent of 2019’s level domestically and 50 percent internationally, according to data from the US Travel Association.

“Companies need tentpole moments to gather together in the real world,” its founder Paddy Cosgrave, who also works remotely, told me in Lisbon. Along those lines, Web Summit’s biggest sales growth has been in group bookings — teams or whole companies, rather than individuals, buying tickets.

Conferences, company offsites, and other team travel are helping to fill a void left by the office and meeting people’s need for in-person collaboration and relationship building — all without having to go to the office.

“I actually think that conferences can be a solution to work from home,” Melanie Brucks, business marketing professor at Columbia Business School, told Recode.

With just under half of Americans expected to continue working from home at least some of the time (that rate is higher for people with bachelor’s degrees), their need for connection could provide the business travel industry some succor and suggest that better days are coming, even if things don’t go back to how they used to be.

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As an economic downturn has companies cutting spending, the conference and travel industry faces even more challenges — as well as a chance to make conferences better. And the conferences that have already come back in person are showing the way.

The return of in-person conferences

The return to in-person conferences this year is highlighting some of the shortcomings of virtual ones — and of virtual work in general.

About a quarter of the conferences that Encore, an international event production company, worked on in 2022 were in person, according to Anthony Vade, event experience strategy director. That’s up from very few the past two years. Next year, he says, it looks like more than 80 percent will be in person.

While plenty of events were held virtually over the past couple of years, many felt they just weren’t the same. It was tempting to try and multitask and do something else when sitting in front of a computer. And even when conferences broke people into smaller groups online, it was difficult to create the intimacy and candor of talking with people you bump into at conferences. Also, after being on video calls all day, people craved a change of pace.

Guests and filmmakers mingle at Breakfast Bites and Beats at the WarnerMedia House during SXSW in Austin, Texas, on March 12.
Mat Hayward/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

The rapid shift back is in some ways a pretty obvious indicator of human nature, says Hugh Forrest, co-president and chief programming officer of SXSW.

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“So much of our event celebrates technology, celebrates new advancements or innovations in social media, and yet we always find that the most impactful connection is the same connection we’ve had for thousands of years: It’s the face-to-face connection,” Forrest explained.

The thirst for in-person events also demonstrates that people are missing something when they work from home.

“What we find is that people are less creative and generative when they’re interacting virtually,” Brucks, the Columbia professor, said, noting that simple instruction and, frankly, most day-to-day office tasks work just fine online.

Meanwhile, however, people aren’t growing their professional networks as much when working remotely. That means fewer weak ties — the relationships you have with acquaintances outside of your work or social group that have proved incredibly important for things like finding a new job or even just new ideas.

Conferences that encourage people to come up with new ideas, collaborate, and socialize could be effective ways to address remote work’s shortcomings without having people go to the office regularly. And a little goes a long way, according to Brucks, who said things like conferences and “innovation weeks” could scratch some of remote work’s itches.

“This is about really leveraging the things we need to do in person,” she added. “That allows us to not be in person for a lot of the rest of the time because we’re getting these tasks done in these really efficient one-week opportunities.”

Still, people treat their time as more precious than they did pre-pandemic, so conferences and companies will have to go the extra mile to get them out of the house. It’s one of the reasons you’re seeing so much push-back from rank-and-file employees on returning to the office: Bosses haven’t really figured out a good reason for people to be there. Workers are returning to offices only to find themselves spending their whole day at their computers, only now with the added drawback of a commute.

So if conferences are going to recover, they’re going to have to make their events something you can’t get online.

How conferences are trying to be more than conferences

The basic premise of most conferences, it seems, has remained the same: People sit in seats and listen to speakers talk onstage. But now conference organizers are leaning into aspects of the event that aren’t as easily broadcast online. Namely, they’re focusing on socialization and experiences.

The Aspen Institute’s flagship Ideas Festival is focusing on more breakout sessions, workshops, and hands-on field trips where people can connect over shared experiences. Last summer, they brought eventgoers to take samples of microplastics in a nearby river and to see regeneration happening after wildfires, as part of the conference’s larger discussion about climate. The idea was to show them how even a pristine-seeming environment wasn’t immune to pollution and climate change.

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People at the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival take a field trip to see wildfire burn scars and regeneration.
Leigh Vogel/Aspen Institue Public Programs

Seismic Shift, a small conference held in San Diego for users of its sales software, divided conferencegoers’ time between speakers and activities, like standup paddleboarding, yoga, and hanging out at a bar serving green juice. Lawn games and picnic tables were set up outside the conference as a way to get people to mingle over meals.

Attendees of the Seismic Shift conference participate in an outdoor yoga class in San Diego, California, in October.
Seismic
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Outreach, a sales platform, has been holding smaller community-oriented conferences while its big user conference, Unleash, was on hold (it’s scheduled to return next fall). At these, the company has been experimenting with ways to keep the audience engaged and connecting with each other so that conferencegoers internalize the content in their “mind and body,” Outreach CMO Melton Littlepage said. The company kicked off a women-in-sales event in a wine cave that “was echoey and boomy so everybody had to get really close together at tables,” he said. The wine helped the conversation, too. At another mini-event, they used QR codes so that conferencegoers could vote on a survey while the emcee discussed the live results onstage. Seating at small round tables was intended to get people talking to their neighbors.

“We’re planning these moments when something happens and gives you something to talk about with the next person,” Littlepage said.

Members of the Outreach Revenue Innovators Women in Sales Summit enjoy an event in a wine cave in Napa, California, in September.
Two Dudes Photo

Conferences are also capitalizing on an unfortunately named trend called “bleisure,” in which people are tacking vacations onto work trips. That’s why many conferences are locating themselves in so-called destination cities, if they hadn’t already. It helps if those places are warm and sunny. So it’s very possible that Web Summit’s continued massive attendance has to do with it being held in Lisbon, which is known for great cuisine and T-shirt weather while the rest of Europe and North America don puffy jackets.

SXSW’s Forrest says that Austin’s warm weather in March is one of the reasons the event has thrived.

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“If you’re coming from upstate New York or Chicago or whatever, and you’re still in the throes of winter, and you come and it’s 80 degrees, that’s a huge part of the experience,” he said. “That’s one more asset of why people want to go.”

Columbia’s Brucks, who had just returned from a conference in Denver, said the attendees were abuzz about the next conference, by the Society for Consumer Psychology, which is being held in Puerto Rico this spring.

“You’re more likely to remember the experience if it’s something that was fun,” she said.

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Exclusive: Disney Plus is Taking Longer and Longer to Stream New Marvel Movies – CNET – TalkOfNews.com

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Disney Plus is Taking Longer and Longer to Stream New Marvel Movies     - CNET

#Disney #Longer #Longer #Stream #Marvel #Movies #CNET

After the depths of social distancing pushed a wave of big-budget movies straight to streaming, theatrical exclusives are the norm again. But for a while, it seemed like Disney and other big Hollywood movie studios might be falling into a new post-COVID rhythm for how long they kept flicks in theaters before streaming them, one that was much faster in shuttling films to a streaming service than before.

But now streaming release dates are all over the map. And for the biggest films, like Marvel’s, the waits seem to be stretching out longer and longer.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will take longer to start streaming on Disney Plus than any other Marvel movie in the pandemic era — and that may not bode well for how long you’ll have to wait to stream the Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy sequels hitting theaters soon.

When will Black Panther: Wakanda Forever start streaming? 

Disney Plus will start streaming the Black Panther sequel early Wednesday, starting at 12:01 a.m. PT/3:01 a.m. ET. Its streaming-release date is more than three months after it hit theaters. 

How long will it take to stream Marvel’s next big movies?

It’s anybody’s guess, but it probably won’t be quick. 

Last year, Marvel released three films in theaters: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in May, Thor: Love and Thunder in July and Wakanda Forever in mid-November. Doctor Strange took 47 days to reach Disney Plus. Thor hit Disney Plus 62 days after its theatrical release.

Now Wakanda Forever will take 82 days to start streaming. 

That’s the longest that a Marvel movie has spent in theaters before streaming on Disney Plus since the company resumed theatrical exclusives in 2021. That year, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was in theaters for 70 days and Eternals for 68 days. 

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(Coincidence or not, the Marvel film that Disney gave the shortest theatrical window among them also had the best overall box office performance. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness grossed more than $955 million worldwide. Wakanda Forever has generated $840 million.)

However, Wakanda Forever may have been held off Disney Plus so long because of a consideration that doesn’t apply to those other Marvel films this year: The movie, with a Black director and predominantly Black cast, is debuting on Disney Plus on the first day of Black History Month. Disney hasn’t stated any connection in the timing, but it’s possible the film’s wait to start streaming may have been drawn out to coincide.  

Still, big Hollywood companies like Disney aren’t prioritizing streaming-subscriber growth nearly as much as they did, depressing the incentive to bring big movies to a service quickly. 

Paramount, for example, kept Top Gun: Maverick off its streaming service for 209 days, nearly seven months. The strategy paid dividends at the box office, with the Top Gun sequel grossing nearly $1.5 billion.

Disney has been much more aggressive than Paramount at putting its movies onto its streaming service quickly, but Disney is starting to show that it may be holding back its big-budget films longer in theaters as well. With Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania set to hit theaters next month, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 following in May and The Marvels arriving in July, you could be waiting more than three months to stream each of them if they stick to Wakanda Forever’s pace. 

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Exclusive: OnePlus 11R and OnePlus Pad set to be launched alongside OnePlus 11 on Feb 7 Cloud Event – TalkOfNews.com

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OnePlus 11R and OnePlus Pad set to be launched alongside OnePlus 11 on Feb 7 Cloud Event

#OnePlus #11R #OnePlus #Pad #set #launched #OnePlus #Feb #Cloud #Event

Although OnePlus has already launched its flagship device for the year, OnePlus 11 in China, they are yet to launch the device in India and the rest of the world. OnePlus has confirmed that the global launch of the OnePlus 11 will take place in India on February 7. However, it seems that OnePlus may be launching a bunch of other devices as well.

OnePlus 11R and OnePlus Pad set to be launched alongside OnePlus 11 on Feb 7 Cloud Event

OnePlus has a bunch of products lined up for its upcoming Cloud Event, including the OnePlus 11, OnePlus 11R, OnePlus Buds Pro 2, the OnePlus Keyboard, a new OnePlus TV and the OnePlus Pad.

OnePlus will also launch the OnePlus 11R along with the OnePlus 11. The OnePlus 11R hasn’t been launched anywhere else and was actually expected to be launched sometime in March or April. 

Amazon India pushed a notification prompt via its app yesterday, which said that the OnePlus 11R 5G will also launch on February 7th, 7:30 PM in India. OnePlus though is yet to make any such announcement.

OnePlus has a bunch of products to offer during its upcoming February 7th Cloud Event, including the OnePlus 11 5G, the OnePlus Buds Pro 2, its first-ever Keyboard, and the new OnePlus TV 65 Q2 Pro. It only makes sense that OnePlus, instead of just launching one of their premium smartphone devices at the event, may choose to launch the entire series on the same day.

A rumour has also surfaced which says that OnePlus may launch the OnePlus Pad as well at the event. Rumours of the OnePlus Pad have been going around since 2021 with more recent speculation suggesting a launch in 2023.

There isn’t much information out there about the OnePlus Pad. However, given the close ties that OnePlus has with Oppo, the OnePlus Pad may be a rebadged Oppo Pad or Oppo Pad Air.

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Coming back the smartphones, the global version of the top tier OnePlus 11 is expected to with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen2 SoC, a 6.7-inch E4 QHD+ OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, 50MP primary camera sensor with two additional cameras, 48MP and a 32MP unit, all of which have been tuned by Hasselblad, up to 512GB storage, and a large 5,000mAh battery which supports 100W fast charging. The OnePlus 11 is expected to be priced around the Rs 50,000 mark for the base variant.

The OnePlus 11R, on the other hand, is expected to come with a 6.7-inch FHD+ AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and powered by a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, which will likely be paired with up to 16GB RAM and up to 512GB storage. As for the cameras, the OnePlus 11R 5G is tipped to come with a 50MP + 12MP + 2MP triple rear camera setup and a 16MP selfie snapper. Lastly, the device will reportedly feature a 5,000mAh battery with 100W fast charging support.


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Exclusive: Tesla Cybertruck mass production won’t start until 2024 – TalkOfNews.com

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Tesla Cybertruck mass production won’t start until 2024

#TeslaCybertruck #mass #production #wont #start

Tesla’s long-anticipated Cybertruck won’t be seeing full volume production until 2024, Elon Musk said during the company’s fourth quarter earnings call today.

During the call, Musk was asked whether the forthcoming vehicle would meet a mid-2023 production target that was set in Q2 last year. Musk cagily confirmed that Cybertruck manufacturing would start “sometime this summer,” but concluded that mass production of the polarizing pickup won’t start until next year. “I always try to downplay the start of production,” Musk said. “It increases exponentially, but it is very slow at first.”

Cybertruck was originally announced in 2019 to widespread interest, but has seen its production delayed several times. Pre-production was originally supposed to start in late 2021, but was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was then slated for sometime in 2023, a projection made a year ago. Additionally, last year Musk told investors Cybertruck’s specs and price “will be different,” (read: will be more expensive).

As a consolation prize, Tesla revealed on Wednesday that it has started installing the production equipment needed for the Cybertruck’s assembly, including the castings that will produce the electric pickup’s body. The Cybertruck is expected to be largely manufactured at the company’s Gigafactory in Austin, Texas.

Industry experts warned that the timeline needed to be sped up in order for the Cybertruck to have its desired impact. “Cybertruck will be hitting an increasingly crowded sector of the EV market amid the F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer EV, Rivian R1T, and likely the Chevy Silverado EV and RAM 1500 EV following closely behind,” said Edmunds executive director of insights Jessica Cawell in an email to The Verge. “The downside for Tesla is that the Cybertruck almost seems like old news.”

There’s still a lot of attention on the Cybertruck after its over-the-top unveiling that introduced its aggressive, post apocalyptic design. Maybe if Tesla throws more metal balls around it can get production rolling.

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