Social distancing requirements are tightening up once again, but that doesn’t mean your business can’t host a fun holiday party. Virtual office parties are an excellent way to bring staff and their families together in a safe and meaningful way, at a time when social connections are more important than ever before. To make your online office party a success, BBB recommends the following tips.
How to Make a Success of a Virtual Office Party
• Make it easy to attend. Use the video app your team feels most comfortable using. If you already use Zoom for weekly business meetings, then stick with that platform for your party, recommends Havard Business Review. If video conferences aren’t a regular part of your work week, then be sure to include a link to the video app you’ll be using with your initial invitation. Inform your guests ahead of time if they need to download an app and let them know the password to enter the gathering if you are using one.
• Choose a convenient time. If your office party is for office staff only, then consider hosting your event during business hours, recommends this article in Fast Company. This is a convenient option for employees who already have to carve out time and physical space at home to work virtually each day. If you want to host an after-hours party, why not invite your employees’ families to participate too?
• Invite the right number of people. Keep in mind that most video app software is designed to allow only one person at a time to speak, which is not ideal for large social gatherings. Harvard Business Review advises keeping groups to 10 participants or less to facilitate conversation. If your guest list is much larger, consider inviting everyone and then splitting them into smaller groups in breakout rooms. One company featured in BBC's article about online holiday parties allowed virtual party guests to move between themed breakout rooms and visit different coworkers, entertainment options, and even the restrooms.
• Turned catered into delivered. If you normally cater your holiday office party, consider delivering food to your employees instead, advises Forbes. Give individual employees a budget, so they can order their own meal and have it delivered to their doorstep.
• Keep the conversation flowing. Greet each participant as they enter to make them feel comfortable, recommends HBR. Once all participants have arrived and greeted one another, be ready to keep the conversations flowing with prepared questions. To keep the tone positive, ask your guests upbeat viewpoint questions like the following:
o What is something surprising you’ve learned in the past month?
o What is an interesting way you are using your time at home now?
o What is your favorite thing about your job right now and why?
o What has helped you the most to cope with the pandemic?
• Get creative with activities. You can include more than just friendly conversation to keep your guests engaged during your virtual office party. Virtual games are a light-hearted option if your employees are the gaming type. The Society for Human Resource Management recommends including live entertainment by booking a musician, comedian, or DJ to your virtual party for a brief show. Another SHRM suggestion is cooking classes, where ingredients and tools are delivered to each guest ahead of time and then everyone cooks and enjoys a meal together. Another idea is to offer your employees a fun workshop that matches their interests. There are a plethora of activities to choose from including crafting projects, at-home spa treatments, dance classes, and more.
• Limit the length. Schedule your party to last only 60-90 minutes and let your guests know when the party starts and ends. Screen fatigue is real, and social events can be even more demanding. Even if the party is really going well at the 90 minute mark, it’s best to end on a high note so that your guests will be excited about any virtual office gatherings you plan for the future.
For More Information
For more tips on running your small business during the pandemic and beyond, see the BBB Small Business Resources. For more holiday tips, check out BBB.org/holiday-tips, as well as information from BBB on how to shop safe this holiday season.
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