Onsite, online, hybrid or hybrid
Most companies still figure out how future work will look like. According to "New Work" coaches, many will be hit by the realization that "hybrid" is not a compromise between online and onsite. It is its own unique way of working. I believe, we can learn from communities - especially from open source communities. Because they work in a variety of hybrid models. In open source communities you get onsite and online meetups, onsite conferences, online Q&A's. You naturally distribute workloads across time zones and geopolitical borders. From open source communities we can learn about hybrid collaboration.
When I think about outstanding examples for communities, Robot Framework is top of my list. It is open source and entirely community driven. There is no company behind it financing the framework, but a foundation of member companies funding the development. Even organising the annual RoboCon is handled by motivated community members - in their free time. They manage to create an event that is both inspiring and empathic. No marketing talks, only exchange purely about tech and use cases. The community even pulled off a legendary online RoboCon in 2021, attracting participants into leaving their office chair only long after midnight. The event in 2021 was online, because there was not other way. 2022 however holds more options and thus RoboCon will be hybrid. Which includes uncertainty about health for onsite participants. Due to the new omicron variant increasing that uncertainty, Robocon had to be postponed from January in to spring.
Equally top of my communities is Camunda. The community is highly active, engaged and empathic. In difference to Robot Framework, Camunda is not only a tool suite, but also an international successful company based in Berlin, Germany. They host 2 annual events: the technical oriented Community Summit in spring and the business case oriented CamundaCon in autumn. And despite being a company, the events are as inspiring and empathic as RoboCon without lazy marketing. In my opinion, Camunda manages to be this empathic through 2 attributes: firstly, I believe their culture always has been this way, as they always had a "developers first" strategy. Secondly, they have a strong developer relations department that turns the underlying culture in to a professional asset and vital feedback stream.
As any other conferences, Camunda had to go online and lately hybrid, as well. In their Camunda Nation Podcast, they share their learnings from both online and hybrid conferences. Like RoboCon, the online versions of the conferences had higher attendency rates than onsite conferences, because now the "hidden community" was able to join who usually cannot manage a trip to Berlin. And like RoboCon the events were a success, with community members from all over the world flooding the Slack channels with comments, notes, jokes and overall collaboration. That's why when going hybrid, Camunda set the goal:
Participating online at a hybrid event must be an as premium experience as the pure online event.
That is an awesome advise. Regardless if I host a conference, organize a meetup or simply go "back" to office. What keeps me thinking, though, is the different implementations of "hybrid". CamundaCon had onsite hosts and speakers in a professional studio, but they had an entirely remote audience. In spring, RoboCon is going a step further, with having remote and onsiteaudience in a professional venue in Helsinki. Both is called "hybrid", but has different complexity, I believe.
Maybe we should call hybrid events rather "hysite" and "hyline".
What are your key learnings from hybrid events?
Want to contact me directly? Then reach out to me at the Bertelsmann internal collaboration platform or onLinkedIn.
P.S.: It gets a little bit lost in laughter, but the "nice chap" they chat about in the podcast at minute 27:10 is actually me.
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