Not to brag, but we “remote work” pretty darn well. Okay, so I’m bragging, but it’s true and hard not to feel strongly about.
Two years ago Inspiring HR knocked our first virtual holiday party out of the park. We repeated its success in 2019, and well, it seems like in 2020 more employers could use our tips for throwing a fun and fabulous virtual holiday party:
We won’t lie, we were a little hesitant at first. Should we? Shouldn’t we? Our fearless leader polled the group. A resounding “Why Not?” answered… and so it began.
- We hashed out the time and day on a conference call. This would be “after hours” on a Thursday night. We would all be home for the call, and we all had the technology necessary.
- We kept the time just long enough to not be in “a hurry”, but no so long that anyone would be dying to get off the call. For us that meant 1 ½ hours.
- Our CIO gave everyone a choice of libations that would be shipped to us ahead of the party that we would all use to toast during the call (Red, White, or Sparkling). For the non-drinkers, an alternative was in the wings. A wine company was selected that could both ship and would use some of the proceeds for charitable donations, which fell in line our with our company values. For a staff of 10, this was not overly expensive, and we weren’t sacrificing any type of bonus or perk for her generosity of the wine of our own choosing.
- We had a contest lined up (Tacky Hat, Ugly Sweater, Decorated Glass – take your pick!) with plenty of time for everyone to either make or find something in advance.
- We had a loose agenda that included our proudest work moments of the year, the sharing of personal stories about our favorite childhood holiday memories, important holiday traditions or plans, and a few of our employees came prepared with custom poems, toasts and (appropriate) jib jab videos starring the staff for entertainment.
- A few of our spouses, partners, and kids popped in to photo bomb our videos.
- Some of us decorated our home offices for the holiday vibe, but it wasn’t required.
- We ended on a high note of praise and appreciation from our CIO, and we ended on time.
Why the personal stories? Well, when you don’t meet up at the water cooler, coffee machine, copier, or lunch room, working remote can mean that you may lack the personal connections that you can develop in person. In the course of our day-to-day work, we emphasize informal information sharing via Slack, Teams, text, email, or phone calls to build the team. The party’s agenda was meant to be an extension of building these bonds and growing the appreciation of one another on a personal level.
What were the biggest take-aways? Setting expectations and participation. Everyone had a moment in the spotlight. Everyone felt included. Everyone knew what to expect. Everyone was in a safe environment, and everyone had a lot of laughs.
An extra benefit: No one was at risk of drinking and driving home from the party.
Special consideration for the holiday blues: Holiday depression is real, and whether it was due to COVID-19 or some other reason for loss, many employees are missing important family members this year. Employers wanting to help mental health in their workforce should consider using “office party cost savings” to provide resources, such as adding an EAP to their New Year’s benefits.
Do we recommend it for remote workforces? Definitely… and I’m already conspiring on how to win the cookie decorating contest this year.
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