The holiday season is coming, and there’s no better opportunity to show gratitude toward your virtual or hybrid teams. All it takes is a little holiday spirit, some creativity and your remote work tools to effectively celebrate the holidays no matter how disperse your team may be. Whether you use Slack, Google Meet, Zoom or Microsoft Teams, the same cloud platforms that keep your team on top of things can also help you stay connected and in good spirits this season.
Why Have Virtual Celebrations for the Holiday Season?
Remote work isn’t going to go away anytime soon. For the past few years, employees have been working from home and have become used to spending more time with their family, lowering their gas costs, having more productive hours in their day (without a commute), and being more productive overall without the typical office distractions.
However, people who work from home tend to skip out on traditional in-person holiday celebrations. Thankfully, remote workers can gain as much of a connection and shared holiday spirit with their fellow team members as those in-office, as long as they are allowed frequent communication opportunities and have the chance to participate in activities that cultivate a shared sense of identity.
5 Solid Reasons to Celebrate the Holidays With Remote Teams
Hosting seasonal parties or events have benefits for all workers, whether in-office, remote or hybrid. That’s because celebrations:
- Build community among colleagues.
- Increase team members’ engagement.
- Help fight loneliness, seasonally or otherwise.
- Provide networking opportunities.
- Provide an opportunity to recognize employees for work and non-work-related milestones.
As teams increasingly become further separated geographically across different cities, states and even countries, the ability to form positive memories, connect and solidify relationships becomes even more important. You could throw an ordinary holiday party over Teams, but there are some better options we think you might like.
5 Big Virtual Holiday Party Ideas for Your Remote Teams
1. Ugly Sweater Contest
The ugly sweater contest is a fantastic holiday tradition held in-office, but in today’s world, you can celebrate in the same way over virtual meetings. Having a day when your team members wear their ugliest holiday sweaters in Zoom, Microsoft Teams or your virtual conferencing software of choice can add some much-needed holiday cheer to an otherwise run-of-the-mill work day. Participants can vote for their favorite in the chat or using a poll. Award the winner with an e-gift card to a favorite big box store or coffee house. In the spirit of the season, it’s the thought that counts. Have a really large team? Consider multiple winners in different categories like “Funniest” and “Most Creative” and “Most Likely to Fray.” Have fun with the team in an earlier meeting making up the categories.
2. Virtual Gift Exchange
It’s not about the gift. It’s about spending some time this season thinking about a colleague and how to make them feel special. Cap the cost low so there’s no pressure to one-up each other. This type of event might work better with smaller teams who know each other well, but it can work for groups of any size. Make it optional not to burden anyone’s budget but make sure to keep those not participating invited to the event and planning so they can still enjoy the fun. Have people sign up several weeks before the event to shuffle and pick names. Everyone will order gifts and ship them to each other’s home addresses, so you need to have enough time. Once all the gifts have been delivered, host a meeting where everyone can open their presents together.
3. Gingerbread House/Holiday Cookie Decorating Competition
Believe it or not, sharing freshly-baked holiday cookies or building a gingerbread house is possible through a virtual conference! Have your team show off their decorating skills by setting up a meeting where coworkers can bake cookies or build a gingerbread house for an hour or so. Or bake them in advance and use the meeting to decorate or just show them off! Encouraging your team to have pets or family members participate provides an increased sense of connection and community within the workplace, and you might get to see some new furry friends!
4. Holiday Happy Hour
The holiday season isn’t always all “tidings of comfort and joy” for some. Between navigating family gatherings, holiday shopping, last-minute deadlines and trip planning, stress can easily appear at the worst possible moment. Hosting a remote happy hour allows virtual teams to blow off steam together with their favorite drink of choice. Topics of discussion may include the drinks themselves, their family traditions, favorite holiday movies or even their upcoming holiday plans.
5. Holiday Cards
When was the last time you received a handwritten letter in the mail? How did it make you feel? Taking the time to write and mail greeting cards to your coworkers with a personalized, seasonal message will make your coworkers feel appreciated and valued, especially during this crazy time of year. There’s something special about the written word, and your team members won’t forget this thoughtful gesture.
4 Small Ways to Celebrate the Holidays With Remote Teams
Not all holiday celebrations have to be as labor-intensive as a virtual gift exchange or gingerbread house construction. Small gestures can be the most fun for your teams, given the right execution. Try spicing things up during your virtual meetings with one of these suggestions for the holiday season:
- Holiday tradition quiz: This holiday twist of the classic game “two truths and a lie” is just that. Have each team member send two authentic holiday traditions they regularly do and one fake holiday tradition privately to you, then read them out loud to the group. Have your coworkers vote on which are real, which are fake and whose was whose. A virtual whiteboard can help you keep track.
- Zoom or VoIP Caroling: When was the last time you went caroling door-to-door? Have you ever considered caroling over a virtual conference? Surprise a coworker or supervisor by scheduling them for a meeting and have the rest of the team sing their favorite holiday song. After the song is over, you can challenge the person to pass it on and schedule another caroling surprise. The best gift? You’ll give them back the rest of the meeting time or use it to laugh and talk together as a team, with no other agendas.
- Festive backgrounds: A small change in a traditional virtual meeting may make a big impact on someone’s work day. Encourage your team to get creative with their Microsoft Teams background and show off their unique holiday or seasonal traditions.
- Holiday playlist: A simple way to add a little fun into your holiday season meetings is to have soft holiday music playing in the background. Have a team member select a holiday song to play at the start or end of your meetings, and rotate who gets to pick the song to increase workplace engagement.
While these suggestions are a solid starting point, half the fun of building virtual holiday celebrations is coming up with your own. Discuss these ideas with your teams to see how they react and decide on the ones that work best for your business. Who knows, you might even stumble across an entirely new fun way to celebrate the season!
Happy holidays from all of us at Internos Group!
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