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For years now, companies who compare in-person events and virtual events do so largely through the lens of avoiding COVID-19 transmissions, as well as the simple reason of convenience.

But while both of those factors are legitimate… neither may actually be the biggest reason to consider converting your next company all-hands meeting to a virtual setting.

The simple truth is, investing in virtual town halls can not only save businesses money and time… but also reduce their carbon footprints on an extremely drastic level. The University of Michigan has estimated that virtual events produce 66 times less greenhouse gas emissions than an in-person gathering.


• Reduced Event Time

Virtual events aren’t conducive to multi-day timelines the way in-person conferences are. In fact, virtual meetings are ideally kept under two or three hours to prevent screen fatigue. That’s a far cry from the usual Monday-to-Thursday conference timeline.

• Little to No Travel Days

By going virtual, you won’t need to require (and therefore pay) dozens upon hundreds of employees to fly into the same city, and then back out again. Catching a flight can take half a workday at minimum.

Suddenly instead of paying for your entire workforce to leave their desks for several days, now they won’t lose more than a few hours. (Your panelists and event administrators will be the only exception to this rule.)


Whereas for an in-person conference you might need to fly all of your associates into a single city, bussing them to and from hotels and venues and restaurants… the only individuals you might need to transport for a virtual town hall will be your panelists, presenters, and event administrators–– which likely won’t exceed a headcount of ten.

• Little to No Airline Tickets

• Little to No Vehicle Rentals

Opting for carpools or even public transportation can be a good step towards a more eco-friendly conference… but buses and subway systems still cost money and produce carbon emissions, too.

• Little to No Fuel Costs

• Little to No Greenhouse Gas Emissions


Again, imagine reducing the number of hotel reservations from 900 to 9. That can save your company more than just dollars…

• Little to No Hotel Costs

• Little to No Water Usage

• Less Waste of Consumables and Plastics

This includes items such as toilet paper, tiny shampoo bottles, etc.

• Less Waste of Consumables and Plastics

Water, power, and chemicals go into all the vacuuming, laundry, and general sanitation of any rooms your team occupies.


Suddenly instead of reserving a multi-floored conference center, all you’ll be booking is a single production studio. Heck, you might even be looking to broadcast straight from your own headquarters–– then you won’t be paying anything extra for your physical location at all!


• Zero Raw Materials

If you’re not renting out a conference center, you probably aren’t paying for the construction of any giant booths, banners, stage decorations, or imposing physical displays. Virtual events can be produced using 100% digital signage. Any custom set pieces that you have designed for a soundstage are bonuses, but certainly not required.

• Little to No Paper & Plastic Waste

With no in-person attendees, there’s also no need to print maps, agendas, speaker biographies, or other corporate brochures. There’s also no need to stock up on paper masks, or manufacture event tchotchkes and souvenirs. The only printing or plastic consumption may come from your panelists printing off their notes, or drinking bottled beverages at the venue. If that venue recycles those materials, then the footprint of those materials can be eliminated entirely.


• Little to No Travel Meals or Catering Costs

Instead of paying for three meals a day for hundreds of employees, now you’re only funding travel meals for your panelists and event administrators who are still arriving to the broadcast location in person.

• Reduced Meal Voucher Usage

Even if your event opts to send meal vouchers to all your employees for an event, it still only totals one meal per person per event. That’s a far cry from the three-meals-per-day required for a 3-5 day event!


• Less Post-Travel Sick Days

You might not even realize that your company and employees end up paying for a few “extra days” after live events… in sick leave, that is. Beyond just COVID-19, colds and flus and general stomach bugs can still get passed around at in-person company town halls (as well as in airports and other public spaces). Masking and hand-sanitizing stations can help cut down on this, but they’re still never going to be 100% effective.

• Gifts Employees Their Time Back

Even though taking a trip can be a nice change of pace (it’s a popular vacation choice, after all), the fact remains that it can be difficult for individuals–– especially parents–– to be absent from home for 3-5 days or even more. Now digitizing your event can reduce that demand on their time from a whole week to a single hour… but it doesn’t have to stop there.

Imagine the overwhelming response from your teams if you not only reduced your all-hands meeting into just a couple of hours… but then gave them the entire rest of the day off! There could hardly be a better gesture acknowledging that you value their live balance than giving them a few extra hours to spend with family or run errands or just take a much-needed break!


• Less General Power Usage

In the end, the only remaining cost of a virtual event comes down to electricity consumption. If you hire out a venue of some kind and aren’t paying for power usage directly, then it may be harder to peg down a reduction in dollars spent in that category. However, it’s exceedingly likely that a single production studio will still spend less on electricity in one day than a conference center will spend over the better part of a week.

On the other hand, if you employ your own headquarters or some other office building for your broadcast, then the cost of electricity and livestreaming equipment will be a bit more available to you.

• Internet Costs May Vary

This is the only expense that may remain the same or possibly increase with a conversion to a digital environment. It’s very likely that you already pay to make sure that all of your employees have reliable internet access no matter where they’re located. Whether they happen to be joining the all-hands meeting from home or from your various offices, those costs may not look all that different to you… unless your offices generally aren’t equipped with enough bandwidth to support steady video streaming.

There are really only two times that your internet cost may be likely to increase for a virtual event:

    • Bad Office Connectivity for Viewers
      If your office locations do not have decent bandwidth for your employees to watch live videos, then you may have to invest in a more robust connection plan. It’s unlikely, but still a possibility. 
    • Not Enough Bandwidth to Stream From Your Headquarters
      Most offices these days are usually able to download and view a livestream–– but broadcasting that video is an entirely different matter. Production studios tend to buff up their signal strength (and even prepare backup routers and backup generators) for the express purpose of live video broadcasts. Your office building, if you choose to host the event there, may not yet have the steady, robust connection that you’ll need to make your virtual event a reality. In that event, your virtual all-hands gathering may require an upgrade to your internet plan.


The main factor that makes 100% virtual events both cheaper and more eco-friendly than in-person events is that the impact of major venues, travel, and resources are reduced almost to zero, then replaced with the lighter impacts of a livestream production.

Hybrid events, on the other hand, add the costs and environmental effects of livestream broadcasting on top of an in-person town hall’s impacts.

Depending on your company size and how many employees opt to stay home for a hybrid event, there could still be a chance that a hybrid event will be more eco-friendly than if it had been fully on-site… but the difference will be much smaller, if there is one.

It’s a huge hurdle trying to put together a calculator to determine just how big of an environmental impact and cost reduction can come from going virtual (we’re speaking from experience here).

However, it’s easy to tell that cutting down on travel for hundreds of individuals in favor of less than a dozen can be a great way to lessen your company’s carbon footprint.

If your business is looking for more ways to go green and put your money where your mouth is, consider adopting a virtual model for your next all-hands meeting or internal town hall. Your planet may thank you… and so may the rest of your associates.


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