Meeting Mentor Magazine

December 2023

Top 5 Work Trends that Will Shape Events in 2023

The world of work changed due to COVID-19-era disruptions — and some of those changes are likely to continue to affect jobs in a post-pandemic economy. Here are how some of the top 5 work trends for 2023 likely will affect meetings and events.

A recent article in Fast Company magazine identified five trends that are predicted to shape the world of work in the coming year as we continue to recover from COVID-19-era disruptions to everything from where and how people work to where and how companies source products and services and manage their global supply chains. As business travel — especially travel to meetings and events — begins to rebound in earnest this year, those general work trends also are bound to affect potential attendees, hospitality and event firms, and the environment in which meetings and events happen.

Here are the five workplace trends Dr. Angela Jackson, founder of Future Forward Strategies, identified in the FC article, and some ideas on what they may mean for the meetings and events community.

Trend 1: Gig work Becomes the norm. The gig economy is going mainstream — and likely will overtake the traditional full-time workforce in just a few years. And we’re not just talking about Uber drivers and other, more traditional service jobs going independent. In fact, about 60% of execs now say they believe their workforces will go mostly gig over the next three years.

What this means for events: For companies as big as ConferenceDirect — and as small as one-person shops — that supply meeting and event services of all varieties, this swing toward increased outsourcing is good news. Even companies that may want to keep as much of their planning logistics as possible in house are saying that finding the right mix of skills, expertise and willingness to sign on for full-time work is still proving difficult. This is even more critical now as the hybrid meeting trend, which requires a whole new skill set, is proving to be a lasting one. All this indicates that the need for out-serviced expertise is likely to continue, at least for the near term.

This could also be a boon for meetings, as more companies may want to hold in-person events to solidify their team of gig workers and full-time staffers. As this article in the Harvard Business Review noted, “For a pharmaceutical research project we observed, the leader launched the effort with a weeklong bootcamp for both internal and external team members that included extensive orientation about the project’s challenging scientific issues as well as its strategic importance and the capabilities and roles of everyone on the team. This got everyone on the same page from the beginning.” We may be seeing a lot more of that as this trend continues to build steam.

Trend 2: Work culture shifting toward flexibility, work-life balance and alignment with employee values. As the next generation becomes more ensconced in today’s workforce, they’re bringing their values with them, including a greater need for flexibility and work-life balance, as well as work, and organizational values, that support their worldview.

What this means for events: Events already have been shifting toward more of an emphasis on networking, providing white space for serendipitous meetings, health and wellness being incorporated into everything from food and beverage to providing more access to natural light, improving sustainability practices and providing more ways to give back to the local host communities. That this is a growing trend in the workforce in general means that planners should expect to double down on all of the above, both in their meetings and in the work environments they provide for their own employees.

Trend 3: DEI means more than just one thing. For today’s worker, diversity, equity and inclusion isn’t just about race, or age, or gender identity — it’s about being inclusive of the whole person, who likely falls into several of the traditional DEI categories. This trend toward “intersectionality,” as Dr. Jackson points out, means that organizations need to broaden their DEI initiatives beyond just supporting employees on one aspect of their identity.

What this means for events: Event and meeting professionals, like most in the working world, dug into their DEI initiatives in earnest in recent years, both in their internal employee offerings and in their meeting and event policies. Many event organizers actually are a bit ahead of the curve on this one. Many, if not most, already had plans in place to at least comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for attendees and staff with physical disabilities. They instituted or bolstered their existing sexual harassment policies during the #MeToo era, then did the same for racial equity and inclusion as the Black Lives Matter movement took center stage. Between ensuring their menus are inclusive for those who have food allergies and other restrictions, to making sure the neurodiverse also feel a part of everything happening on site, they have been chipping away at the different elements of true DEI. While the level of intersectionality this has already led to is uneven, varying from organization to organization, and there’s still much progress needed, this already is very much at the forefront of most meeting and event organizers’ minds.

Trend 4: Rethinking job benefits. While the Fast Company article focused mainly on reworking 401k plans so employees could use corporate match-funding in whatever way would help them most, it also mentioned specifically women having a tough time balancing their unpaid work at home with their corporate work, which has left them no choice but to leave the workforce (or go to Trend #1 and become gig workers).

What this means for events: Meeting and event organizers, as part of their DEI efforts (see above trend), also are trying to find ways to make it easier for  primary caregivers of any gender identity to come to their events. From providing private nursing pods, to giving more time between sessions to put out fires on the home front, to offering on-site childcare, event organizers are on it when it comes to providing what those juggling work and home life need while on site — though most may argue this is not a perk but a necessity.

Trend 5: Employers as educators. The final trend Jackson identifies is that employees are more and more looking to their employers for education, rather than institutions of higher learning. They have more trust in their employer to provide what they need, according to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer.

What this means for events: One top perk of many jobs — see the last trend on rethinking job benefits — is employer-supported education. And where better to provide that education that employer-supported access to professional conferences and other educational events? For corporate events, this obviously is an exciting trendline to jump on. But as many, if not most, of association attendees also are coming on their employers’ dime, this could mean more support for larger groups of attendees coming from specific employers, a positive reversal of the trend several associations had been reporting of employers sending smaller groups in hopes they would go back and report on what they learned to their colleagues, saving the company the cost of sending a larger group. But if more companies are looking to be prime educators for their workforce, this could be great news for both internal and external meeting organizers.

While there are many other trends that will be affecting meetings and events this year and beyond, these five general workplace trends all support continued emphasis in the direction in which events already have been heading.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts by emailing the editor at


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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

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