Like with most holidays this year, Christmas is going to be different too. A deadly second wave of COVID-19 and the subsequent stringent Public Health measures are keeping most people home.
Winter months are tough even without the restrictions and despair created by a global health crisis. Some of your employees may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in addition to the stress and isolation caused by the pandemic.
While you may not be able to experience the festive cheer of the pre-pandemic workplace, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t celebrate your hard work and that of your team through a virtual holiday party.
A virtual party is an excellent way to boost your remote team’s morale and keep the spirit of Christmas alive while socially distancing. After all, living through a pandemic is not just a narrative of hardship, but also one of resilience.
Here are some things to keep in mind when planning a remote office Christmas party:
Plan well in advance
It may be useful to discuss date and time options with your team at least two weeks in advance so that everyone is able to participate. However, you may want to make attendance optional.
While the remote party is a well-intentioned gesture meant to support employee wellbeing, everyone may not be in a state of mind to celebrate. Working parents, people tending to sick relatives or those who’ve experienced personal loss due to the pandemic may not want to join in.
Make it interactive and inclusive
Make sure to include interactive online games and activities that’ll help your remote staff bond and have fun. Besides online trivia quizzes, you could get together to solve a murder mystery, or work your way out of an escape room. You could even consider live entertainment options, such as a stand-up comedy show, on your video-call party.
Plan a wide range of activities so that no one feels left out. For instance, if a wine tasting or drinking game takes up most of the evening, it may cause non-drinkers to feel excluded.
Set down a code of conduct
Once you have the date and time finalized and a final list of attendees, it may be a good idea to send out a formal e-invite. The party invitation should also set down the code of conduct for the party. You should make it clear that the disciplinary procedures for misconduct at a virtual party are the same as for an in-person event.
You may also want to clarify that while social media use is permissible at office social events, it should not be done in a way that reflects poorly on the company.
Don’t make it a work meeting
It may be important, necessary even, that you acknowledge and celebrate your team’s hard work during this exceptionally difficult year. But remember to not let your virtual Christmas party become a work meeting. Make sure the evening is about connecting with your co-workers and having fun.