7 Virtual Lunch Ideas To Improve Employee Engagement

Cassy Aite
June 2, 2023
7 Virtual Lunch Ideas To Improve Employee Engagement

If you have a remote team, you may struggle to find ways for team bonding, team building, and camaraderie. While channels in collaborative platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Workplace can improve interactions between team members, a more hands-on and personal approach is through a virtual lunch.

As the name suggests, a virtual lunch is a gathering between remote employees during their lunch breaks. However, these lunches are entirely customizable, ranging from informal to semi-formal and learning-related or simply for fun.

The concept is simple, but learning to plan one and encouraging attendance and participation isn’t nearly as straightforward. If you want to bring an in-person touch to remote work, these virtual lunch ideas should help you get your creative juices flowing.

How To Set Up and Plan a Virtual Lunch

Woman eating a meal during a virtual lunch

Before you hop into the details of your next virtual lunch, learning how to plan it from both entertainment and technical perspectives can help you avoid a headache. To launch a successful virtual lunch, just follow these steps.

1. Choose Your Platform

Before your get-together, select a platform that works for your staff. You could use Slack or an alternative for a streamlined approach. But opting for video allows you to see each other face to face and provides opportunities to see each other as you would in real life.

Some platforms for your virtual lunch event might include:

  • GoTo Meeting
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Skype
  • Zoom
  • BlueJeans
  • Google Meet

You’ll also find a number of free video call alternatives online. Just remember that freeware versions may have time limits or a finite number of people allowed to attend.

2. Choose an Interesting Topic or Activity

Gear the next step toward what you aim to achieve. Ask yourself a few questions below to come to the right virtual lunch idea.

  • Do you want to discuss work matters in an informal manner?
  • Are you trying to build employee engagement or improve company culture?
  • Do you want to learn more about your employees’ personal lives or tastes (music, movies, books, etc.)?
  • Are team-building exercises more your style?

By answering these questions and adding a few of your own, you can pick the right activity that promotes engagement and participation.

3. Select the Emcee

Call it a host or emcee or whatever you will, you need someone to facilitate the activity or conversation. You can elect yourself to lead the virtual lunch, or you can choose someone else who’s got the gift of gab or the right charisma for the job. But whoever you choose, make sure that the conversation doesn’t wane — especially if it’s your first time throwing a remote lunch.

The first meeting is the litmus test for your employees. Bore them, and you might have trouble finding people to attend in the future. Wow them, and word of mouth might encourage more of your remote workers to join the festivities.

4. Provide Food

A free meal is more than enough to entice most employees to participate in a virtual lunch. If you have some petty cash lying around, Hoppier’s virtual gift cards are a godsend. Just select the amount you want to put on each gift card, choose the look of the card, and even put an expiration date on it. Any cash left over on these cards is deposited back into your account, so you don’t have any monetary waste at the end. It’s a win-win for both employer and employee.

5. Send Out Your Invites and Follow Up

Once you have all the details sorted, communicate your plans with your attendees. Send the date and time via email or your preferred collaboration tool. If you have remote workers who don’t use your platform often, include instructions on how to download, install, and use it. Get RSVPs if possible so you know just how many virtual gift cards to send and to manage the virtual lunch more effectively.

7 Fun Virtual Lunch Ideas

To some degree, setting up a virtual lunch is as effortless as choosing a collaborative messaging or video conferencing platform and sending out invitations. However, a virtual lunch meeting is far more enjoyable if you choose an entertaining topic or a fun virtual team-building activity. Otherwise, you or whomever you appoint to lead the virtual lunch have to become the catalyst for constant conversation. In other words, it’s a bit taxing.

If you’re not sure where to start or it’s your first time planning a team lunch online, here are some fun, interactive, and participation-promoting virtual lunch ideas to get you started.

1. Lunch Roulette

One of the quickest and most convenient virtual lunch ideas is Lunch Roulette. If you don’t have the time to meet with employees during lunch or you have staff in different time zones, Lunch Roulette randomly pairs employees via Slack for an informal meeting.

Select how often you want to have a virtual lunch, the number of participants, the group channel, and Lunch Roulette does the rest. Automating your virtual lunch has never been easier.

2. Trivia Games

In the same vein as traditional pub quizzes, trivia games are an actionable and fun way to learn more about your employees and their knowledge and interests outside of the virtual office. Free and pay-to-play trivia games are widely available via Slack, or you can create questions of your own for a video-based, Jeopardy-style game.

You don’t want to ask questions when people are stuffing their mouths with a ham sandwich. So if you have the overwhelming need to play Alex Trebek, do a bit of trivia-hosting practice beforehand.

3. Talent Show

Everyone has a hidden or not-so-hidden talent. But in a remote world, showcasing those skills isn’t easy. That’s what makes a talent show such an intriguing virtual lunch idea.

A great icebreaker is to demonstrate one of your talents first, and then ask your team to follow your amazing skills. The idea isn’t the talent itself; it’s people opening up, feeling more comfortable with each other, and bonding.

Some talent show pleasers might include reciting pi to 100 decimals, naming all the state capitals, or playing a song on piano or guitar. You never know what interesting, funny, or weird talents your team might have.

4. Cooking Class

Man taking an online cooking class during a virtual lunch

Playing off the popularity of “Hell’s Kitchen” or “Chopped,” an interesting virtual lunch idea with a hands-on approach is a cooking class. In this virtual event, your employees share a little face time while honing their culinary prowess.

You or an employee can lead the class, or you can hire a chef or cook to lead the squad. The result is an enjoyable way to spend time and learn new skills that employees can apply to their daily lives.

Plus, you can still use Hoppier’s virtual gift cards to get your team the ingredients for the recipe you choose. Doordash, GrubHub, Uber Eats, and Instacart all bring groceries straight to your door, streamlining the process and allowing your fellow foodies to get ready to dice, mince, and sautee.

5. Recipe Sharing

Everyone has different tastes, but discovering what they are is half the fun. The same goes for cooking. Not everyone is a chef, but learning new ways to cook through easy recipes can encourage employee health and well-being.

As such, another virtual lunch idea that’s bound to please is recipe sharing. You can share your favorite recipes and encourage others to do the same. Following up to learn the results is just as easy. Have employees take pictures of their resulting cuisines, and you have another virtual lunch idea for subsequent gatherings.

6. The Playlist

Music is relatable to almost everyone. It provides a connection between individuals and insight into others’ tastes and personalities. If you want to harness the connective power of music, sharing playlists is another virtual lunch idea that’s bound to attract attention.

During your virtual lunch, have employees share their favorite Spotify playlists, their favorite songs and artists, and why they love a particular track or musician. It’s all subjective, allows people to open up, and can even help people find their next favorite artist.

7. Charades

Popular in living rooms and parlor rooms since the 16th century, charades is a game that’s fun, creative, and competitive.

Split your virtual meeting into two teams, select a word, and let one person on a team act it out without speaking. The objective is for the team to guess the word within a specific time frame. Get it right, and you get a point. Then, the other team gets a try.

If you want to see some of the quirks and even the communication skills of your team members, charades is a stellar virtual lunch idea.

Send Virtual Lunch To Your Employees With Hoppier

You can’t have a virtual lunch without delicious meals for employees. Without food, it’s just another meeting. So if you have some extra money in the budget or you just want to reward your employees for how they help your company every day, let Hoppier help you easily send lunch to your team.

With virtual gift cards from Hoppier, your employees can choose from several food delivery vendors that bring lunch straight to their door. All your team needs to do is decide what they want to eat, choose their preferred delivery service, and they’re ready to attend your virtual lunch.

Hoppier virtual gift card example for virtual lunch

From there, the virtual lunch idea is entirely up to you. But if you need an icebreaker, feel free to start with a classic: “Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch?”

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