“The Future 100: 2023,” creative agency, consultancy, and technology company Wunderman Thompson’s annual forecast, identifies 100 trends across industries — from culture to technology to travel and hospitality — that will shape the way we live and work this year and beyond.
Convene’s editors each have chosen three trends from Wunderman Thompson’s latest report and connected them to meetings and events. Here are three that resonated with Editor in Chief Michelle Russell.
Morning yoga and fun runs have become staples of conferences and conventions, as organizations recognize that a sense of wellness is key to the participant experience — and that exercise contributes to mental and physical wellbeing. As an added bonus, participation in these physical activities in a group setting, whether competitive or not, can help foster team- and community-building.
But imagine if, in addition to your regular on-site exercise offerings, you also put a “joy workout” on your program? Honestly, I’ve never laced up my sneakers at dawn for a fun run or rolled out a yoga mat at a conference, but a joy workout? I’ll be there in a heartbeat, if only to satisfy my curiosity.
But adding the word “joy” to workouts isn’t just a trick to get you to exercise. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal shared in a feature in The New York Times (paywall) that the bounces, reaches, sways, and jumps in this workout have been selected from studies on movements that create positive emotions. “These physical actions don’t just express a feeling of joy,” she writes in the Times, “research shows they can also elicit it.” (The Times story includes an 8-minute joy workout video and it worked to lift this couch potato’s spirits.)
Bolstering the notion that a joy workout would work especially well in a group setting, one study cited by McGonigal “suggested the effects of so-called joy moves are stronger when you see someone else doing the movements, too — in part because happiness is contagious.” The best part is that some of these moves can easily be incorporated as a break in a general or plenary session — when you give participants a chance to get out of their seats and stretch and sway together in unison.
Convene has written about the benefits of adding elements of joy to the meeting environment before. This is another way to actively put that into practice.
It seems like destination marketing organizations have been way ahead of the curve here by showcasing how their museums and science centers can serve as unique event venues. Read any of Convene’s sponsored content describing a destination and you’ll find CVBs highlighting cultural institutions as part of their knowledge economy assets.
It turns out those places aren’t just a nice change of scenery for special events or for attendees to visit in their downtime, they also have a positive effect on our mood. According to the report, “a growing body of research underlines the therapeutic value of culture for patients with mental health conditions and chronic pain.”
There are several programs around the world in which physicians prescribe trips to cultural institutions for patients experiencing depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges, including Brugmann University Hospital in Belgium, the Massachusetts-based CultureRx program, and the Greek Ministry of Culture. In Brussels, doctors prescribe free trips to one of five participating cultural institutions, including exploring the city’s historic sewer system (okay, that wouldn’t be my first choice) or browsing costumes at the GardeRobe museum. Funded by the Mass Cultural Council, the CultureRx program “promotes patient engagement with arts, science and culture” and a three-year pilot yielded positive results. For Greek citizens, arts institutions like the National Museum of Contemporary Art and the Athens State Orchestra are participating in cultural prescription services.
“Culture is now more than mere leisure,” the report says, “offering moments of restorative wellness and a way to engage meaningfully with the world.”
For several years now, financial planners have been using the term “rewirement” when working with those looking to retire, according to the Wunderman Thompson report. “Now it’s become a more expansive term that encompasses parts of people’s lives beyond the financial.”
Rewirement is a way of describing the trend for people of a certain age to leave their careers and yet continue to pursue interests or work as productive members of society. “Post-pandemic,” the report says, “life and work are taking on a whole new meaning, particularly in later decades. Rewirees are reassessing their priorities, rediscovering themselves, and dedicating time to their passions and their families.”
Like many of the trends Wunderman Thompson lists in its annual report, this one just scratches the surface. “Rewirement” works for those who are fortunate enough to have saved enough to have the financial freedom to pursue their passions in their later years. But that’s not the case for everyone. A recent Bloomberg Business article (paywall) called retirement “the slowest moving financial crisis of our time.” The article focuses on the soaring state pension costs in developed countries and the near-universal agreement among economists that we’ll all need to work for longer.
RELATED: Read Senior Editor Jennifer N. Dienst’s take on Rewirement.
The bottom line is that those in retirement who have a financial imperative to augment their pension or Social Security or those in rewirement who choose to remain part of the workforce in some way are a demographic organizations would do well to consider. For the business events industry, this is a group whose decades of experience can be leveraged for project work and on-site responsibilities.
More than 2 million workers retired in the U.S. during the first 18 months of the pandemic and “they now appear to be heading back to work in what might be best described as quiet returning,” according to a recent Forbes article. The article cites survey data from Joblist that indicates that more than a quarter of those returning to work were doing so because they needed the income and one out of five “feared that inflation was eroding their retirement nest egg.”
But the survey found that three out of five retirees returning to work “said they were simply ‘looking for something to do’” and were pursuing flexible roles. “According to Joblist CEO Kevin Harrington, ‘Many people… miss the social connection that work provides.” Older workers reentering the workforce “could be good news for employers,” Harrington told Forbes. “Retirees are an overlooked talent pool that companies can and should engage in order to combat labor shortages.”
Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.