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With the current global COVID-19 pandemic affecting people and businesses across the world, it is clear that new ways of work and communication are vitally important. The pandemic is predicted to last for at least several months and possibly longer and seems likely to fundamentally change the way that businesses operate forever.

Many company teams, as well as government workers, are now being asked to work from home where possible, in order to lessen the spread of COVID-19 and reduce its long term danger for the global population, and disruption on the global economy. Whereas before teams would be having in-person meetings with co-workers within offices, they will now be using various digital tools at home, such as:

  • Zoom or Skype for video calls
  • Slack or Microsoft Teams to send messages and documents

The shifting nature of work in the modern world:

While all of this is understandably very abrupt for many people and will take some getting used to, what is happening is, in fact, an accelerated version of what was already happening in many areas of the economy. Prior to this current global crisis, many forms of work were already changing as increasing numbers of companies have been giving, or planning to give their teams the option to work from home either part of the time or all the time. This isn’t just the case for smaller companies, but also big names such as Twitter, where CEO Jack Dorsey recently stated the companies’ intention to build support for a more remote workforce.

This shift is due to a variety of factors, including the fact that younger generations favour:

  • A more flexible approach to work 
  • Greater autonomy at the organisations they work for
  • The ability to work remotely from where they want, either at home or from coworking spaces or cafes 

On the whole, younger workers do not want to be tied to a desk from 9-5, Monday to Friday, and with high-speed internet available in many locations and a variety of different tools available this is now easier and more accessible than ever for businesses and organisations to make this change.

How the Island Innovation team effectively collaborates remotely and why we work this way:

For many teams, such as ours at Island Innovation, remote work has been part of the brand identity from the beginning, with team members in the US, UK, Jamaica, Ghana, Venezuela and Colombia. 

Collaboration is coordinated via:

  • Slack 
  • Zoom 
  • Google Documents 
  • Email
  • Various social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn. 

In this sense, we are very much a modern company that has been set up to work this way since our inception, years before today’s COVID-19 crisis. Island Innovation is a social enterprise that works with rural and island stakeholders and has the mission to build digital bridges between far-flung islands to find the most innovative sustainability solutions.

While we have offered in-person presentations at events around the world, and still see a place for these in the future, we also recognise the inherent unsustainability of huge numbers of people flying around the world to different events all over the world each year. We aim to practice what we preach which is why we are especially focused on the use of digital tools and virtual events.

The future unsustainability of many large scale in-person events:

While the world’s attention may currently be on the global pandemic, there is a greater long term threat that has been looming for decades. This is, of course, the global climate crisis which has the potential to cause devastation to both the natural world and humanity, including the destruction of natural biospheres like forests and coral reefs, as well as cities across the globe.

Just before the coronavirus hit, the world witnessed unprecedented fires in Brazil and Australia and massive flooding events across Europe. Many scientists believe these are just a prelude of what we will experience in the coming decades, and they largely attribute this to human-caused climate change, of which global travel, especially aviation is a significant contributor to. Unfortunately, many of the island nations we work with will be among the hardest-hit places as sea levels rise, and increasingly violent storms hit them.

This is why, along with the changing nature of work and younger workers changing job preferences, virtual events are now more important than ever! They won’t solve everything of course, but they can help to significantly cut down on greenhouse gases, while also allowing people in the most distant places to connect online and share knowledge.

The annual Island Innovation Virtual Island Summit:

At Island Innovation, we have committed to running our annual ‘Virtual Island Summit’ which is a free and entirely online multi-day conference in which we aim to help share knowledge for resilient, sustainable and prosperous islands worldwide. Last year we held our first version of this event and it was a big success with thousands of people online watching industry expert speakers from governments, universities, NGOs and businesses speaking from their own home locations.

This year’s Virtual Island Summit is set to be an even bigger success as we aim to build on the many positives from last year and iron out any minor issues. 

  • The event will take place on 6-11th September 2020.
  • It is designed to connect global islands to share their common experiences through a digital platform. 
  • It will be an excellent opportunity for you to be able to join islanders from around the world who will be sharing ideas, good practices and solutions.

How and why your business or organisation can start benefiting from virtual events:

We have seen first hand how effectively a virtual event can be when planned and run properly, and we certainly feel many more businesses could implement these for their teams, plus other organisations could use them such as:

  • more universities offering online seminars without the need to actually attend the university in person
  • music or sporting events being shown entirely online with only a small number or no in-person attendance. 

This has already happened with certain major events due to the coronavirus crisis and should become normalised due to the even greater climate crisis threat.

On a smaller scale, teams that work remotely can still have regular team meetings via video conferencing software like Zoom. These kinds of meetings will likely become even more important as people increasingly work remotely and teams are spread out in different cities or countries. Virtual meetings help these teams to stay connected and to build a sense of team spirit which is especially important if people aren’t meeting face to face, as it helps to prevent remote working from feeling impersonal.

In this sense, virtual events are important from small scale team meetings, right through to large scale conferences, or other activities such as global sporting or musical events. As individuals, businesses and governments aim to become more environmentally conscious, through reduced flights and other unnecessary travel, the need for virtual events is only set to grow.


Learn how to create a successful virtual event:

If you are looking to start running virtual events at your business or organisation, but don’t know how to get started, then we can certainly help you with that. We have just launched a new course entitled “Create A Successful Virtual Event in 2 Months” which you can sign up for here.


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This occasional newsletter highlights events and stories about innovation in sustainable development for rural, remote and island regions. We want to change the discourse to demonstrate how islandness can be a driver for innovation.