Employee engagement
Thomas Paris
January 17, 2020
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8 Virtual Social Event Ideas that Remote Teams Love

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8 Virtual Social Event Ideas that Remote Teams Love

Thomas Paris
November 25, 2020
8 Virtual Social Event Ideas that Remote Teams Love

Virtual social events are quickly becoming an integral part of remote work. Employee engagement and mental wellbeing are top of mind priorities for high-performance organizations. Although studies show that remote employees are more productive and efficient,  prolonged isolation as a result of being homebound is having an adverse effect on the mental health of employees.

A survey report by Cushman & Wakefield noted that remote work has affected people’s ability to connect with their colleagues on a personal level, impacting company culture and hindering personal and professional development.

Keeping in touch with colleagues gets overwhelming when working remotely. Although organizations encourage informal interactions through chat groups, occasional facetime sessions, etc., these activities don’t always get much engagement from employees. Informal Slack groups eventually lose momentum and so do other team-building activities.

Rather than making these activities an obligation as a task to be marked off a list, companies can make these remote interactions more engaging by adding physical experiential elements, innovation, and a little bit of gamification. Making changes to these virtual social events could help employees strengthen bonds with their team.

Here are eight fun virtual event ideas you can try at work to keep your remote employees engaged.

1. Kick Things-Off With Virtual Ice-Breaking Games

Although an ice-breaker isn’t an event in itself, having this on a schedule ensures everyone is comfortable from the get-go. Here are three simple ice-breaker examples you can use at the start of your next session:

  • Emoji Check-in: As team members join a session, ask them to share how they are feeling or how their day was using an emoji. This can be a great conversation starter once the session officially begins.
  • Bucket List: While introducing a new teammate, ask them to describe something on their bucket list. Listening to their travel plans, things they want to purchase, books they want to read, etc. will help you understand their interests and personalities.
  • Two Truths and a Lie: Before kicking-off a video call, ask your teammates to share two truths and one lie about themselves, around their personal lives. Let others guess the lie. This fun game will help you begin the call with some laughter.

2. Schedule a Virtual Lunch

A photo of a group of young professionals sitting together and smiling
Image 1: A virtual lunch social event can be a great substitute for IRL meetings

Virtual lunches are a great way to check in and see how your team is doing. You can schedule weekly, biweekly, or monthly virtual lunches, where everyone on the team connects via a video conferencing app.

Virtual lunches add a touch of authenticity to your culture-building strategy. Just make it a point to keep things light by avoiding ‘talking shop’. 

3. Throw Holiday Parties

With the holiday season already upon us, you need to start planning for the upcoming holidays starting with Thanksgiving. You can plan a low effort party that is memorable with virtual icebreakers, quizzes, games, and a theme for outfits and food.

For example, a Thanksgiving party can begin with Thanksgiving bingo to encourage teammates to share their stories based on the bingo card, followed by team members giving thanks for one another, and ending with the Thanksgiving dinner. 

Similarly, when it comes to the Winter Holidays and Christmas, you can plan Secret Santa / a Gift Exchange where employees can exchange gifts with each other. Online tools like elfster can help you plan easily and Hoppier makes it easy to give each attendee a budget to spend.

4. Participate in Virtual Volunteering

Giving back to the community is one of the kindest ways of expressing gratitude. Many organizations work with nonprofits and charities to extend their support to various social causes. Here are a few ways your remote teams can volunteer:

  • Catchafire is an organization that enables individuals to donate their skills and time to non-profit organizations. For instance, a graphic designer from your team can volunteer to design a few creatives for an NGO or a web developer can help them develop or revamp a website.
  • Hire Heroes USA lets volunteers help veterans and military spouses prepare for jobs through mock interviews, career counseling sessions, and following-up with them on their job search. Volunteers can also contribute by taking professional photos of veteran family members as they prepare their resumes and begin their job search.
  • The UN Volunteers (UNV) program allows organizations and volunteers to use their skills and knowledge to work on various sustainable development challenges. Encourage your employees to dedicate some of their time to help out in any way they like to give back to the community.

5. Organize Virtual Gaming Meets

Virtual gaming meetups can be incredibly fun. Online board games or card games help people bond, reduce stress, enhance creativity, and improve brain function. With the sheer amount of genres today, you can find something for everyone!

While Among Us is trending at the moment, you can also start with other simple games such as reverse charades, Uno, Pictionary, Codenames, and Monopoly to get the team started with board games. As you progress, you can introduce more intricate genres such as strategy (Catan, Lords of Waterdeep, Risk), storytelling (Dixit, Lord of the Rings), and co-operative (Pandemic, Gloomhaven) games to make these virtual meetups more interesting.

Feel free to stick with the classics - trivia, scavenger hunt, and simpler virtual games.

6. Celebrate Birthdays Virtually

Online birthday parties are probably one of the simplest virtual social events to plan. While the team can’t be together to share cake, you can send the cake to the birthday merrymaker’s house and host a cake cutting get together over video call. To make the celebration more fun, you can send the person video messages from team members using a tool like capsule.video, ask the attendees to wear party hats, and play virtual games. The team can also contribute to getting personalized video messages from the birthday person’s favorite celebrity using Cameo.

7. Host Open Mic Nights

Participating in an open mic night at a bar or club can be nerve-wracking as you don’t know how your material will be received by the audience. But presenting in front of a familiar audience shouldn’t be too difficult, right? You can ask your remote team members to showcase their talents such as standup comedy, singing, or playing an instrument at the virtual open mic nights.

You can allocate 5 or 10 minute slots to each member where they perform in front of the team via a video conferencing app. As the performers gain more confidence, you can move up to improv sessions where they can perform comedy or play a piece on the fly. You can also record the session and share it with the team later. This is a terrific culture-building activity too. You could upload the recorded acts to your career site or social media to give potential employees a taste of what they can expect when they work with you.

8. Form Movie/Book/Podcast Clubs

A photo of a pile of books stacked on a desk
Image 2: Book clubs are a great idea to build virtual engagement

Team members have varying interests, while some are movie buffs, others are bookworms, or podcast fanatics. Creating interest-based clubs lets similar-minded colleagues socialize and share tips and leads with each other. Club members can plan podcasts or album listening sessions, host Netflix parties, or decide on a book that they can discuss at the end of the month.

It goes without saying that participation shouldn’t be compulsory to sustain these clubs. Voluntary participation will provide employees with more control on how they want to engage. The idea is to have fun and not make it seem like extra work.

Conclusion: Succeeding With Virtual Social Events

Remote work has blurred the line dividing personal and professional lives. Employees often find it difficult to disconnect from work, which takes a toll on their work-life balance. When designing team-building virtual events, don’t do it at the cost of the employees’ personal time. Some of these events require planning initially, but once you set it up as a recurring event, making minor tweaks to the schedule will keep the activities interesting.

With all the craziness that has been 2020, kicking the holiday season off with fun and exciting virtual social events can be just the thing that helps you begin the new year on a high note.

Get 20% off on your first virtual event with Hoppier. Speak to our team today.

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