A virtual holiday party is an excellent opportunity for employees around the world to come together over a common interest, celebrate the achievement of their group and have fun in a safe environment. It allows everyone to feel as though they are, in fact, present and involved.
However, because a virtual party occurs via Skype or videoconference technology, it can be tempting to want to spend the whole event sharing recent photos and goofing off during the meeting. A little down-time is fine, but if you don’t keep everyone on task, chances are people will start checking their e-mail and get distracted.
Here are tips on how to make the most of your virtual holiday party.
Keep it short — A holiday party is supposed to be fun. Not only will the employees appreciate the chance to unwind after a hectic year, but you’ll save time by keeping the work portion of your party short and sweet. Instead of inviting people from all over the country for a full-day conference, set up a one-hour appointment for your party and stick to the topic at hand.
Use virtual participation — If you’ve got one or two remote employees who can’t make it in person, have them join the virtual meeting via computer video connection. Not only will their participation be a big morale booster, but they’ll be able to interact with everyone else in real time as well.
Set a holiday party agenda — As the boss, it’s your responsibility to lead the meeting and set the right tone for a good time. Do you want your employees to share stories about their personal vacations or talk openly about work? The best way to kick off a virtual holiday party is with an agenda so everyone knows what to expect.
Send a holiday party invitation — A virtual holiday party isn’t the same as it would be if everyone was there in person, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send an invite to all your employees. Make sure they know it is going to be virtual and what type of technology they need (web camera, microphone or headset) to participate.
Pamper your employees with holiday party treats — If you are looking for a cheap, but fun task to delegate during the party, ask an employee to go on a coffee run. An hour before the meeting, make sure each person has everything they need and then have them deliver it beforehand so everyone can get settled in.
Bring in snacks — What’s a party without food? The best foods to serve are bite-sized and portable. For example, small sandwiches, cookies or fruit work well. You can also go for something simple like pizza so the employees don’t have to deal with messy plates while they chat on video.
Set up holiday party decorations — Make your virtual meeting place festive by decorating the room. This will help to make the remote attendees feel more included and less out-of-place sitting at their computers in their home office (which is sometimes unavoidable). Decorations can be as simple as placing holiday symbols around the screen, hanging holiday lights over a gray background or softening the lighting of your computer screen. Get creative and have fun with it.
Just as in an in-person party, there should be a host to lead the meeting and set the tone for what is going to happen. And just like at any real party, you don’t want people feeling pressured by their boss. Instead, make sure they are comfortable about sharing photos or vacation stories while keeping the conversation moving forward so no one gets off subject or spends too much time talking about themselves.
You can also have fun playing online trivia games with your friends online. Online trivia questions with answers can be a nice break in the holiday party, allowing your employees to blow off steam and enjoy themselves without feeling like they have to report back on a topic during the meeting.