Here are 5 ways to make sure your remote employees feel included and appreciated at your organization’s holiday party.
More and more employees have been working remotely from their homes or offices within a company in recent years. As a result, companies with remote or distributed employees face a unique challenge regarding holiday parties. Employees can feel left out, whether on assignment in another city or managing a team from another location. Imagine not being able to experience the joy of wrapping presents with coworkers or sample all of the delicious food typically served during these celebrations.
But this year, there are plenty of ways to make employees feel included at your holiday party without them ever having to leave the comfort of their own home. To mitigate the risk of isolating your employees who work remotely from those who work in office, create a festive environment at your virtual holiday party. After all, ’tis the season of giving!
Recognize all holidays represented by your workforce
We are more connected than ever. There is no reason why you couldn’t ask employees to share their holiday or religious ceremonies at the end of the year. Survey your employees, and provide days off during their holiday season. If not, gather their holiday stories, traditions, and share them across your organizational channels. Create a company-wide holiday bulletin or a shared slides deck. You can also do something special for those who do not celebrate the holidays. Create a special meal or prepare a gift for them.
By acknowledging different holidays, you bring the workforce together and even introduce people to new holiday celebrations.
By acknowledging different holidays, you bring the workforce together and even introduce people to new holiday celebrations. Winter is an important time to demonstrate inclusion and welcome diversity, no matter how many employees celebrate each holiday. Support your entire team throughout the festive season.
Make it an informal Zoom meeting
Before you avert your eyes, video conference tools are still valuable for providing ways for people to share facial expressions, ideas, and camaraderie when working in different offices around the country and the globe. You can keep it fun by taking the pressure off. Ask employees to join a holiday gathering, but don’t require them to be at their desks.
Keep the call open so people can stop by and say hello whenever they can. Let them keep the camera on at home while doing their holiday things. Akin to how families sometimes use Facetime, employees should be encouraged to walk around the house and bring virtual guests into the kitchen while fixing up favorite holiday treats. Why not encourage employees to share some of their favorite holiday recipes? Introduce friends and family members and make it memorable so employees will want to join in the fun again next year. But remember to be courteous and keep in mind the timing of multiple time zones and office hours.
Encourage people to dress up
Holiday parties are usually fun events where everyone can dress up and celebrate. There’s a reason why companies have office holiday parties. They are a great way to socialize and get to know each other better. Being remote shouldn’t change this. Instead, a holiday party (virtual or not) should create a great environment to have fun, dress up, and mingle with coworkers.
Ugliest sweater contest? Absolutely. They’re just as fun via video as they are in person. Everyone loves hearing the retelling of the stories that are behind them. Ask everyone to send in an ugly sweater photo, after which everyone guesses at “Who’s Ugly Sweater is That?” This activity is guaranteed to keep the party interesting. Why not let colleagues kick back, relax, and be themselves in whatever (fancy or not) holiday attire they choose.
Send a physical or virtual gift
Just because your event is remote doesn’t mean you can’t include a physical element in your virtual holiday party. Send something out to your teams in advance to spur excitement. Make sure you give them plenty of notice to schedule accordingly. This can be a handwritten card, a note of gratitude, or an invitation.
A holiday event doesn’t have to be a big thing. Sometimes it’s the simple acts of kindness that go a long way for people. For example, a Secret Santa gift exchange can easily be carried out remotely. Let everyone know who they got, set the budget for gifts, and give everyone a few bucks to cover shipping. Additionally, try using a gift exchange app like DrawNames for a virtual gift exchange.
Remember, giving gifts should be voluntary and practical with a budget everyone accepts. If an employee can’t or doesn’t want to participate, let them still be a part of the celebration.
Just because your event is remote doesn’t mean you can’t include a physical element in your virtual holiday party. Send something out to your teams in advance to spur excitement.
Consider hosting an in-person gathering if it’s possible
Not all employees can attend an in-person gathering, but there’s nothing that beats an office party. If enough of your remote employees live near your office or an event space, consider throwing a celebration for them — or choosing a location and allowing employees to fly in. Singing, eating, dancing, and gift exchanges are the tip of the iceberg. However, you can still celebrate the season memorably with your employees with a virtual holiday party.
Some other ideas worth considering are skipping the Christmas Party and holding a Year’s End party. Don’t hold the event on an actual holiday, and of course, make attendance optional. Remember to celebrate diversity across your staff and consider differing holiday traditions. Be sure to think about how your company can create inclusive celebrations and make them fun and inviting for everyone.