The holiday season is nearly upon us and what a bright time (it’s the right time) of year to show gratitude toward your virtual or hybrid teams. All it takes is a little holiday magic and your remote work tools to celebrate the holidays with them. Whether you use Google Meet, Teams, Slack or Zoom, the same cloud platforms that keep your team working productively can also help you stay connected and in the holiday spirit this season.
Why Should We Have Virtual Celebrations?
Remote work isn’t going to vanish anytime soon. For the past few years, employees have been working from home and have adjusted to avoid the daily commute, spend more time with their family and are used to being (mostly) more productive during the workday with minimal interruptions.
However, the same people who work from home tend to experience “FOMO” or the “fear of missing out” on traditional in-person holiday celebrations. The good news is that remote workers can gain as much of a connection and shared holiday spirit with their other coworkers as those in the office, as long as they are allowed to talk frequently and participate in activities that cultivate a shared sense of identity.
Reasons to Celebrate the Holidays with Remote Teams
Hosting seasonal parties or events has benefits for all workers, whether in-office, remote or hybrid. They:
- Help fight loneliness, seasonally or otherwise.
- Provide an opportunity to recognize employees for work and non-work-related milestones.
- Increase team members’ engagement.
- Provide networking opportunities.
- Build community among colleagues.
As teams increasingly become further separated over different states and countries, the ability to build relationships, connect and form positive memories becomes even more important. You could throw a run-of-the-mill holiday party over Zoom, but there are some better ways you could go about it.
5 Virtual Holiday Party Ideas for Your Remote Teams
1. Holiday Happy Hour
The holiday season isn’t always all fun and games for some. Between last-minute deadlines, trip planning, navigating family gatherings and holiday shopping, stress can easily rear its ugly head. Hosting a remote happy hour allows virtual teams to blow off steam together with their beverage of choice. They can talk about their family traditions, vent about holiday stressors or even exchange gift ideas for those hard-to-shop-for people on everyone’s list.
2. Ugly Sweater Contest
The ugly sweater contest is a fantastic holiday tradition and having one isn’t necessarily limited to in-office parties! Having a day when your team members wear their ugliest holiday sweaters in Microsoft Teams, Zoom or your virtual conferencing software of choice can add some holiday cheer to an otherwise boring workday. Encourage participants to vote in the chat on which person’s sweater is their favorite (with the winner receiving an e-gift card). After all, everyone could use an extra coffee or Amazon card this time of year. Feel free to put your own spin on the event… switch to a different clothing item (hats, sunglasses) or put together categories for prizes. In addition to “ugliest” you might have “best homemade” or even “most original” awards. Increase engagement by having your team come up with their own categories.
3. Gingerbread House/Holiday Cookie Decorating Competition
Virtual teams might not be able to share freshly-baked holiday cookies at the office or build a gingerbread house in person. So why not do so from their home kitchens? Set up a meeting for your team to bake together or show off their decorating skills. Encourage your team to have pets or family members participate to provide an increased sense of connection and community within the workplace. This is a great activity to do that last week before Christmas when schools are out and work from home parents can feel like taffy being pulled in every direction.
4. Virtual Gift Exchange
The holiday season is “the most wonderful time of the year” and a time to show one another that you care. What better way to do so than through a virtual gift exchange? Keep participation in gift-buying optional and include everyone whether they’re exchanging gifts or not. Create a company-wide or team-specific invite to encourage coworkers to sign up a couple of weeks before the holiday break and shuffle their names together. Once your coworkers receive an assigned name(s), they can order gifts online and ship them to each other’s home addresses. Once all the gifts have been delivered, host a meeting where everyone can unwrap their presents together! After all, who doesn’t love opening gifts?
5. Holiday Cards
There’s something special about the written word. When was the last time you received a handwritten letter in the mail? How did it make you feel? Probably great, right? Maybe a little warm and fuzzy inside? 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. Or, you can bring the team together to help others in your community. Choose an elder care facility and have the whole team write individual cards to residents.
4 Small Ways to Celebrate the Holidays With Remote Teams
Not all holiday celebrations have to be big events like cookie decorating or happy hours. Sometimes, small gestures can be the most fun for your teams. Try switching things up during your virtual meetings with one of these suggestions for the holiday season:
- 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 supervisor or team member by scheduling them for a short meeting and have the rest of the team sing their favorite agreed-upon holiday song of choice. After the song is over, you can then challenge the person to pass it on and schedule another caroling surprise. Oh, what fun!
- Festive backgrounds: This small change in a traditional virtual meeting may make a big impact on someone’s workday. 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 increase the holiday spirit is to have soft holiday music playing in the background of regularly scheduled team meetings. 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 engagement.
- Holiday tradition quiz: This holiday twist of the classic game “two truths and a lie” is just that. Have each team member send two real holiday traditions and one fake holiday tradition privately to you, then read them out loud to the group. Have your coworkers take guesses on which are real, which are fake and whose was whose. A virtual whiteboard or a traditional pen and paper can help you keep track.
While these suggestions are a great starting point, half the fun of building virtual holiday celebrations is coming up with your own. Share these ideas with your teams to see how they react and pick the ones that work best for your business. Who knows, you might even stumble across something new!
Happy holidays from all of us at Aeko Technologies!
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