How to organise virtual office parties that strengthen your company culture
It’s official; we are rapidly approaching party season, with the likes of Halloween, Diwali, Christmas, and New Year all on the horizon. So, how best to celebrate with your colleagues?
You don’t have to get together with your colleagues IRL to have a good time; you can have a morale-boosting and memorable virtual party that strengthens your company culture – all while honouring the time and commitments of your remote workers.
Not sure where to begin? Don’t worry; we’ve pulled together a list of tips and ideas to help you organise a brilliant virtual party of your very own.
Give people the date way in advance
Much like an IRL party, try to send out invites to the event at least a month in advance, to ensure people can plan accordingly and have it in their diaries.
It’s also a good idea to send out a form asking them about their dietary requirements and so on, so that you can avoid bad surprises on the d-day (more on this later).
Set a budget
It’s always best to go into party planning – even virtual party planning – with a figure in mind. This should help prevent overspending and (bonus) give you the opportunity to use any leftover cash to make things extra special for your colleagues.
Consider which platform to use
There are a lot of factors to consider when hosting a virtual event or party, but one of the most important is deciding which platform to use. While Google Meet and Microsoft Teams are both brilliant options for presentations and the like, we personally rate Zoom for the fun stuff.
That’s right; Zoom was everyone’s first choice during the pandemic for a reason. Not only is it affordable (or free, if you’re keeping your event short and sweet!), but it also boasts screen sharing, breakout rooms, and polling features – and plenty more besides. It’s also easy to use, works across a number of devices, and doesn’t require a subscription from everyone using it; just the host – the others can simply click the invite link and hop in as guests — ideal.
Add a dress code
It’s all too easy to stick to your regular work clothes if you are attending a virtual party, but a good way to get yourself In the mood for the festivities is to dress for the occasion.
You could opt for typical party glamour, a themed fancy dress, or have everyone wear a Halloween or Christmas jumper, or even ask your employees to wear the outfit that makes them happiest.
If you like, you could take things one step further and incorporate the dress-up element into the event; perhaps start by having everyone vote for the best fancy dress / worst Christmas jumper, or host a quick icebreaker round in which everyone reveals the story behind their “happy” outfit could be a great way to get things going.
Send something ahead of the event
At an IRL party, your guests would be served food and drinks – and possibly even leave home with a goodie bag. It’s a good idea to replicate this by sending out a package to each employee to open as the party starts.
Whether you opt for a few alcoholic (or non-alcoholic, depending on their preference) beverages and some tasty snacks, a cheese tasting kit, a recipe kit, or a voucher for a takeaway service (it might be an idea to have them order ahead of time), be sure to include a few personal touches.
This might look like party favours (think silly paper hats, noisemakers, and the like), the equipment they’ll need for any activities planned, or a post-party pamper/recovery kit: think a rejuvenating face mask, a bottle of virgin Bloody Mary, or even a coffee shop voucher!
It’s the personal touches that make your employees feel like you care, remember – so show them that this party is a way for you to share your appreciation for all of their hard work.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Depending on what activity you opt for, it might be an idea to start with a company-wide call and then break everyone off into smaller teams or groups.
This should make it easier for people to chat and relax with one another – not to mention getting them networking with their colleagues a bit!
Pick an activity
It’s always better to give your virtual party a purpose or direction, as aimless chatting tends to trail off during a conference call.
Not sure what to plan for your online event? Here are just a few of our favourites:
A virtual cheese, chocolate or champagne tasting
An online pub quiz
An online karaoke party (this might be better to schedule in toward the end of the event!)
Keep it light, fun and easy, whatever you do – and don’t put too much pressure on people.
Pop a time limit on things
Video call burnout – also known as Zoom fatigue – is a very real thing. Set a time limit on the main event (a virtual party can be shorter than an IRL one) and offer people the chance to stick around and chat if they like when it’s all over.
And finally, don’t stick to just one big party each year
Social wellness is vital to the smooth running of any company. And the best way to promote social wellness? Regular get-togethers, of course!
Research shows that people who have strong ties with their teammates are happier, more productive and less likely to leave the company. Essentially, you don’t want to host a party filled with strangers; make sure to pop regular team building and icebreaker events in their calendars throughout the year, to ensure they’re spending time with people they know and like at the big office party.
Even just a 15-minute game of, say, ‘Show And Tell’ can go a long way.