What Matters Now: How the Pandemic Has Changed Priorities

If we’ve just been waiting for the COVID-19 crisis to pass to go back to business as usual, we’ve missed a rare opportunity to see our lives and our work in a new light. Here are some ways our world has changed and what we hope will stick once the pandemic is behind us.

Author: Convene Editors       


Illustration by Sarah Coleman

Thanks to COVID-19, what matters now depends on who you ask and where they live, perhaps more than ever. Some parts of the world have gotten the coronavirus more under control than others, but hotspots continue to emerge and reemerge, with restrictions lifted and then reinforced to try to tamp down the virus’ spread. We’ve all been in various stages of lockdown for months now, living in a new world order in which a return to regular travel and face-to-face events seems to be a longer time in the making than we first imagined.

What have we learned during this time? First, we hope, compassion for those whose loved ones have succumbed to the virus. Their lives can never be replaced. Others have lost their livelihoods in the economic fallout of the pandemic — a tragedy of a different kind.

We all read the statistics about the pandemic’s toll on human life and the economy. They’re mind-numbing and yet we struggle not to become inured by them.

At the same time, we can’t be so consumed by what’s been taken from us that we fail to see what has been left behind, and what we have the power to change for the better.

What’s at the heart of the business events industry — bringing diverse people together, fostering communities, making connections, raising awareness and consciousness, sharing knowledge, and moving society forward — is still what matters now. We just need to think about it, and do it, differently.

That’s what we’d like you to come away with as you read the following collection of stories that are specifically or tangentially related to events. It may be difficult to run a single thread through them — we explore everything from the power of digital events to reach large, global audiences and to enable access for those with disabilities in ways face-to-face events can’t, to how a security guard at a cowboy museum became a social-media sensation. We talk about Black Lives Matter, food waste and recovery, how the pandemic may destigmatize mental illness, and yes, pivoting to the new normal. Taken together, they’re about reinvention, in big and small ways — a message that we hope resonates with you.

Earn CMP Credits

This story is part of Convene‘s September CMP Series package on ways the world has changed since COVID-19 and what we hope will stick once the pandemic is behind us.

Earn one clock hour of certification credit by visiting the CMP Series page to answer questions about information contained in the series of articles listed below and in “How Different Personality Types Cope With an Always-on Culture,” a Harvard Business School article on how to combat the “always-on” workplace expectation that may be exacerbated by working remotely during COVID-19.

The Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) is a registered trademark of the Events Industry Council.

Stories from the September CMP Series

5 Questions About Race — Asked and Answered by Black Tourism Professionals

Black executives from seven destination marketing organizations across the country call for open dialogue about race and racism.

Pandemic Pastimes

Many have turned to hobbies as a way to cope with quarantining. And that, neuroscientists and mental health professionals tell us, provides many lasting benefits beyond serving as a distraction during the crisis.

The Freedom of Remote Work for People with Disabilities

Virtual setups — in the office and at meetings — provide many people with disabilities more opportunities to work, learn, and participate. Here are five ways to ensure your digital events are accessible for participants with special needs.

Smile! How Photo-Booth Rental Company Reinvented Itself

When the COVID-19 pandemic threatened SnapBar’s bread-and-butter business as an events supplier, it founders pivoted to creating city-specific gift boxes which led them back to events.

Will the Pandemic Change How We Look at Mental Health?

As more studies show that Americans are experiencing feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression caused by the COVID-19 crisis, some hope it will bring mental health issues into the spotlight.

Roping in a Global Audience

When an Oklahoma City cowboy museum closed its doors to visitors in March due to the pandemic, it found a social media star on the premises to keep its audience engaged.

Community Cooking: Lasting Change for Commercial Kitchens?

When indoor dining fell victim to COVID-19, some chefs and restaurant owners pivoted to preparing meals for the food insecure — and will make that part of their business model when the crisis is over.

An Epidemic of COVID-Related Waste

Measures to tamp down the pandemic have halted the movement to make F&B serviceware more sustainable.

Talking to Strangers in a Pandemic

Meet Cart maven Emily Hope Dobkin, founder of a company called Betterish, brings people together by having them share their stories in online sessions.

A Foundation of Values

Founders of the 74Wythe space in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood install mural celebrating New York CIty’s pandemic-time heroes, but commitment to social issues goes deeper than surface.

What Won’t Change

The pandemic has shifted our work and life priorities. Here are some things we’ve started doing while stuck at home that we plan on sticking with.

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