The 4 biggest developments of 2023 that will reshape your events

Lara Owen Reporter, C&IT
The 4 biggest developments of 2023 that will reshape your events

At AIME 2023, Professor Ben Hamer discusses the four biggest developments happening in the economy, health and tech industries that will impact the future of your events. Here are the lessons you need to take.

1. High Inflation and a shifting job landscape

2023 is all about efficiency. At a point where everyone’s having to tighten their purse strings and with recruitment at an all time lower, prioritising workloads and structuring new roles out of an existing task force is crucial. 

Organisations won’t necessarily be downsizing but rightsizing, meaning if someone leaves, they won’t backfill that role but think about how they can keep the headcount and where they might repurpose it. This also means there may be more internal opportunities within your organisation as opposed to external ones. “The data therefore also shows,” says Professor Ben Hamer, “that 15% of your week should be upskilling and reskilling in order to remain current and relevant.”

Last year, more jobs were on offer than applicants. In 2023 however, the tables have turned. Hamer notes, “As unemployment goes up, the balance and power starts to swing a little bit back towards the employer, and your negotiating position as a potential employee starts to diminish.” This is one of the benefits for employers in 2023, so it’s critical to take time and extra care when hiring in preparation for having a smaller workforce.

Takeaways for your events:

Discretionary spending in organisations is going to drop. As the tightening of the purse strings comes into effect we are going to see organisations spend less, particularly when it comes to what’s perceived as discretionary spending, and learning and development budgets will sadly go down. A lesson from this is to focus on quality. If you only have limited funds for both buyers and suppliers, quality becomes key. 

2. A post-mortem of the pre-covid office

Occupancy levels are extremely or comparatively lower than pre-covid. There are two things at play here: one is the time spent in lockdown, the other is the length of the commute. “The longer some countries stayed in lockdown, the more their behaviours shifted and baseline readjusted as people got used to sustained periods at home.” Hamer explains, “So where we used to go into the office and sometimes work from home, cognitively that’s shifted to we work from home and sometimes go into the office.” 

Secondly, the longer the commute the more likely people are to have a propensity or desire to work from home. “So tech savvy, well-built and polished buildings are in high demand as organisations have to earn the commute of their people - you need to have the top facilities and amenities.”

“In 2022, all people were talking about was hybrid working, working from home and CEOs were mandating people to come into the office. Something that is now apparent is that productivity does not deteriorate when you work from home. Research shows that people are actually more productive when at home, whereas when people came back into the office productivity plummeted. But that’s for good reason, people were coming in to collaborate, not to open their laptops and smash out hours of work. They were brainstorming, connecting and networking. So the home is about product, the office is about innovation, it's about creativity, building, psychological safety, building networks, and retention.”

“A study I ran at the end of last year was: What was the top benefit of working from home? It’s saving money. This goes back to the high inflation environment that we’re in, and understanding the strain that employees are under with costs of childcare, commuting and annual incomes not rising alongside the cost of living.”

Takeaways for your events:

Make it count. Like organisations have to earn the commute of their employees to the office, you need to earn the commute of your customers and attendees to your events. A study that ran at the end of 2022 showed the biggest benefit to working from home is the savings in expenditures. This goes back to the high inflation environment that we’re in, and understanding the strain employees are under with annual incomes not rising alongside the increased cost of living. The lesson here is to differentiate from the events in your field, think about quality being a part of your USP, that will really make it an unmissable event for delegates.

3. 2022 gave us ‘Quiet Quitting’, 2023 gives us the ‘Anti-Work Movement’

Continuing on from the trend of 2022, people are unsubscribing from the hustle mentality of traditional work. “People who are pulling back on the discretionary effort that they're willing to expend and setting up boundaries.” Hamer says, “So what that’s resulting in is job satisfaction levels at an all time low costing $7.8 trillion in lost productivity.”

People are looking to redefine the role of work in their lives: they are refraining from climbing the corporate ladder, willing to pull back on the extra effort they expend. “If that means they won’t be promoted for another two years,” Hamer states, “so be it.”

This means organisations have to shift employees' wellbeing from a footnote to a keynote. Hamer highlights how this has never been more imperative, “Before the pandemic of covid, the World Health Organisation declared stress as the epidemic of the 21st century. Along with this, people are now having more meetings - the number of meetings has increased by 153% compared to pre-covid and we’re working longer hours - on average 6.1 hours of unpaid overtime each week. People are starting to not accept this.”

Takeaways for your events:

Focus on relationships. As more and more gets automated, people struggle with increased workload stresses and hybrid and virtual events continue to be pursued, human to human interaction is vital within the events industry. Don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face exchanges. 

4. AI is no longer inaccessible: it’s time to get clued up

AI has been around for a while, but recently a programme called ChatGPT has changed the game. “It mimics human language” Hamer states, “it is the evolution of what we think of as Googling. It streamlines data, like Google, but also analyses it. It will then synthesise it and write it in coherent English - or whatever your chosen language is - within about five to ten seconds, depending on what you've asked it to do.” Now, why is this also a game changer in AI you ask? It also picks up tone and style, giving you an original piece of research in less than fifteen seconds.

Hamer notes that “30% of working professionals in Australia alone have at least tried ChatGPT or are actively using it in their work. That’s since it got released two and a half months ago. This will be the number one disruptor to work in 2023, it’s important to know the potential of it. If you’re not using it, your colleagues, competitors or customers are.”

Takeaways for your events:

Embrace AI. When it comes to developing content, whether it's a blog or social posts, it will free up time. Considering the heavier workloads and smaller workforces, this programme will soon become an essential software within your event planning stage.