Remote & Async Work — 8 min
The holiday season is here, and you’re ready to celebrate another successful year with your team. The question is, how do you do this with a remote workforce?
It’s easier than you might think.
This post delves into some of the best holiday ideas for remote teams, from hosting virtual parties to recognizing individual accomplishments. Read on to discover the perfect ideas for your team.
As the remote workforce continues to expand, so will the demand for virtual holiday parties.
According to our Remote Workforce Report, in 2023, 54% of companies saw increases in the number of employees working from home, and 44% hired more globally distributed team members. If your company has seen similar remote growth, you won’t be able to put up holiday decorations or host a traditional office party to celebrate your employees.
Instead, you’ll celebrate these individuals virtually. Creating thoughtful, employee-based festivities shows your employees how much you value them and their contributions, no matter where they work. It also encourages team-building by helping your remote employees foster connections.
Now, it’s time for the fun part: exploring holiday ideas and choosing the best ones for your team.
If you want to help your team connect through a shared virtual event while also getting into the holiday spirit, try one of these ideas:
Why not stick to a classic by hosting a festive cocktail party? You can approach this in various ways, depending on your budget and your teams’ preferences. Here are some options:
Select a signature cocktail for everyone to mix and make “together.” Gather some ideas and ask each of your employees to vote on their favorite.
Hold a happy hour when everyone makes their favorite drink and shares why they enjoy it.
Splurge on a hosted virtual happy hour and let others handle the details for you.
Regardless of the event type, be sure to send the e-vites to your remote employees in advance. Include any ingredients your employees will need if you’ll be focusing on a signature cocktail.
Consider using breakout rooms if many employees are expected to attend. This allows for small-group conversations like you’d see during in-person gatherings.
Ask team members to share cherished family rituals, show off holiday decorations, or post pictures. You could also encourage your employees to highlight one of their favorite holiday dishes and the story behind it. Create a shared document for them to post their recipes for others to enjoy.
Ask about holiday traditions to incorporate them into your celebration. For example, provide a virtual “spin a dreidel” session or fun Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa-themed game.
Decorate gingerbread houses or holiday cookies together. Provide your employees with kits or ask them to bring their own.
The popularity of ugly holiday sweater contests has gained significant traction over the years. Keep in mind that you don’t have to limit this to sweaters. Employees can vote on whether they want to rock ugly sweaters, cozy pajamas, or silly hats during the get-together.
Have drinks or appetizers with your employees during this festive event. You could also craft an online survey to determine the “winner” and provide a fun prize.
When your employees get together for a virtual party, surprise them by turning the event into a scavenger hunt.
Provide a range of items your employees can search for within a set time. Mix it up with everyday, work-related, and holiday-themed items. You can also kick off a season-long event by providing employees with scavenger hunt templates that start with the party and end with the new year.
Don’t forget prizes for the winner, too.
Consider holding a cooking class if your employees would prefer a shared experience.
Have team members vote on the dish they’d like to make. You can either lead the class yourself, or ask an employee with a passion for cooking or baking to lead. Another option is to hire a professional chef who can demonstrate a dish(es) from a particular cuisine.
Varying employee locations can make it difficult to find the perfect time for everyone. Focus on fostering deeper connections through other group activities, such as:
Although the Secret Santa gift exchange idea originated in the West and is part of western Christmas tradition, you could easily adapt this holiday gift exchange to your remote crew.
Start by renaming the event to fit your employees’ culture. For example, it could reflect the Dia de Reyes celebration in Mexico or the winter solstice in Singapore.
You can even use a free online tool to help you organize the event. Most importantly, set a clear price limit and focus on easy e-deliverables.
Holiday Bingo is another great way to celebrate. Check out free online options, and customize the sheets for your team.
Base the Bingo boards on geographic locations, work-specific activities, or holiday-specific traditions. Put them in a shared space, so the participants can post their progress and comment on how their colleagues are doing.
Up the stakes by entering the winners into a random draw at the end of the season.
A shared movie night (or day) is a fun, casual way for employees to connect. Vote on a holiday movie, date, and time. Comment in your shared chat spaces during the movie, or encourage a review or discussion after it.
Schedule a second night if the employees are interested
Use icebreakers to celebrate the holidays with your remote employees.
Start team meetings with holiday-themed icebreaker questions. For instance: what’s the best gift you’ve ever given? What are you most looking forward to this season? Least looking forward to? What’s your favorite bad holiday movie?
Icebreakers are an easy way to connect and get to know those they wouldn’t have known otherwise.
While an online advent calendar won’t provide your employees with chocolate or other goodies, you can still make it fun.
Hold countdowns to your team members’ meaningful holidays, and create multiple calendars if needed. Assign different days for employees to “open” and ask them to report back on shared channels.
Your calendar could include jokes, quotes, coupon codes, links to funny memes/gifs, holiday songs, or trivia.
Don’t forget the power of employee recognition and community involvement during the holiday season. Here are some ideas:
Monetary awards speak volumes. Decide on the bonuses you can offer your employees and how to present them.
If bonuses aren’t in the budget, consider alternatives. You might be able to provide company stock options to your remote employees or personalized gift cards, for instance. And don’t forget to take payroll differences between countries into account when giving out bonuses.
Employees want to feel recognized for their contributions. Send out personalized thank-yous to your team members — and make them specific. Note what they’ve accomplished and how those accomplishments have contributed to the organization’s success. Give your employees a chance to thank or otherwise recognize their colleagues. Expressing gratitude is linked to making positive connections and promoting well-being in the workplace.
Find out what your employees care about in their communities, and ask about the causes they feel passionate about. For instance, your team could host a holiday food drive or donate to a charity of their choice.
Employee well-being is another worthy area to direct your attention during the holidays. In 2022, roughly 31% of adults reported feeling high levels of stress during the holiday season.
Ask your team members how you can support their work-life balance, and be on the alert for signs of burnout. Support these individuals by providing them with mental health resources. Even if you already check in with your employees regularly, make a point of doing so, especially during the holidays.
No matter which holiday idea you’re considering, the following tips can help increase its chances of success:
Get employee feedback on the holiday ideas they enjoy most and respond accordingly.
Consider the company’s policies and budget carefully to implement holiday ideas that are in line with both.
Consider time zones as you plan virtual events, and provide options for those who can’t participate.
Make inclusiveness the priority, including all the holidays that matter to your team.
Focus on strengthening employee connections all around. While 67% of employees believe they have solid relationships with their coworkers, fewer report having the same feeling about their manager.
Which ideas will be a good fit for your remote employees? Are you leaning toward a virtual company holiday party? Or simply a chance to build connections and shared experiences during this holiday season?
No matter which option you choose, Remote’s Global HR platform can support you.
Remote makes it easier than ever to hire, onboard, and pay talent worldwide. We can also help with sorting out benefits, from fair bonuses to stock options, for your globally distributed team.
Simplify your busy holiday season. Contact Remote today.
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