With travel restrictions, office closures, and social distancing measures in place, we want to share Viamo’s learnings on how to bring a remote, global team together – virtually!

In November 2019, Viamo hosted ViaFest, our second-annual, internal virtual conference. Over 130 staff, across 16 different time zones, in more than 20 countries logged on for a week of learning, team bonding, and goal setting. So, is it possible to present a vision, inspire creativity, build relationships, and motivate individuals virtually – all while reducing costs and avoiding the massive carbon footprint of an in-person conference?

We think so! Here’s how:

1) Nothing good happens at 4 am

When you have people spread across multiple countries and time zones, it is important to strategically schedule the overall timing of the conference, as well as the specific timing of each presentation. Consider local holidays when picking the week and consider where your presenters are located when scheduling the sessions. Encourage full participation in the conference by asking everyone to set their calendars and emails as “Out of Office” and limit their other work, just as they would do with a traditional conference.

2) Collaboration is key for engagement

If people are not excited about the content of a conference, or they feel it is not relevant to their work, they are not going to be focused or engaged. This is even more true when the conference is taking place online. Have a diverse group of presenters from all levels and locations of the organization create committees, design sessions, and lead discussions. This promotes cross-cultural and cross-departmental learning and builds relationships. 

3) Mix it up

Make sure to have a variety of sessions balanced throughout the day. Consider having a variety of committee sessions, lightning sessions, plenary sessions and guest speakers, with varying lengths from 15 minutes long to an hour and a half. Have a “main room” and a “side room” and run sessions simultaneously to ensure that everyone will have a relevant and interesting session to attend. Schedule 15-30 minute breaks throughout the day to allow people to recharge.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the more interactive features of video conferencing options like multiple breakout rooms, voting, and polling your participants. These advanced features encourage smaller group discussions and active audience participation. 

4) See the silver lining 

Having a conference virtually means a few bonuses that would not be possible with an in-person conference. No flights booked results in a massive reduction in your company’s carbon footprint. By not flying our staff to meet in one place for ViaFest, Viamo saved over 110,000 kg in CO2 emissions. 

Traditional in-person conferences are often limited to executive and management-level employees. With a global team, visa restrictions may limit who is able to attend. A virtual conference ensures that everyone is included.

5) Don’t forget the fun

A virtual conference does not mean losing social and networking opportunities. Plan several activities that everyone can participate in that are fun, relationship-building, and engaging. Run these short sessions once or twice a day, in between presentations. Some great activities that Viamo did this year include online pictionary, virtual office tours, and a global scavenger hunt. This allows people to connect with each other on a more personal level, and adds energizing breaks throughout the day. Plus the slideshow of our global scavenger hunt was a hilarious ending to our productive week!


Viamo helps partners with epidemic response and disease prevention strategies:

Breakthrough Action-Nigeria is spearheading USAID’s response to COVID-19 in Nigeria in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. Viamo is supporting USAID’s response to COVID-19 by pushing SMS and IVR messages to the general population in priority areas as well as messages to health workers with Frequently Asked Questions about the virus. Viamo is adding IVR FAQs to the COVID-19 hotline and national 3-2-1 Service and developing a mobile curriculum on COVID-19 for health workers.

Viamo is working with Concern Worldwide to reach 1.8 million Airtel subscribers in Eastern DRC with lifesaving key messages regarding safe burial practices and the importance of early detection and treatment of Ebola. So far, 444,234 successful calls have been made to citizens.

Viamo developed a project with HNI and UNICEF in DRC in 2017 to increase the general population’s knowledge of yellow fever and improve WASH practices at the household and community level. We reached over 400,000 people with important messages about yellow fever and cholera. Message timing aligned with a cholera epidemic throughout DRC, and a push SMS campaign was coordinated with Vodacom at the height of the outbreak. In an impact evaluation managed by Viamo, 57% of respondents reported that after listening to the messages, they improved their knowledge of cholera, and 62% of respondents reported that after listening to the messages, they improved their knowledge of yellow fever.

Want to explore mobile engagement options for epidemic response or disease prevention projects? Get in touch with us and find out how we can expand your reach and impact!

Given the need for rapid deployment of information regarding COVID-19, here are several examples of mobile solutions that Viamo can provide to our partners:

3-2-1 Service: Make COVID-19 content available through Interactive Voice Response (IVR) with the 3-2-1 Service. End users can proactively access information on-demand, for free via their mobile phones. 

Best for: lower literacy; maximum/sustained engagement; no/low mobile internet access.

Remote Training: Deliver mobile-based remote training on COVID-19 via IVR, SMS and/or chatbots for field workers and health staff to access at any time.

Best for: workforce training; high literacy; basic and smartphones; sharing and testing knowledge.

Surveys: Get insights into a general population’s understanding of hygiene and social distancing, and monitor a country’s access to healthcare, either from the perspective of the general population, or health workers. Surveys can be implemented within 2 weeks. 

Best for: general population or health workers; lower literacy; no/low mobile internet access. 

Read our full capability statement of Viamo’s mobile engagement options for your COVID-19 response plans: Epidemic Response – Viamo Capabilities