A Guide to Hosting a Remote Holiday Party

‘Tis the season to be jolly – even for companies whose employees work remotely. Gallup research shows a whopping one-quarter of today’s workforce consists of teleworkers. Not only does the rising number of remote workers present business leaders with new workplace collaboration issues to consider, it also poses a challenge when gathering teams for the annual holiday party.

Luckily, the tools teams use to collaborate with each other over audio, video and the web can come in pretty handy for holding a unique and memorable remote holiday party. Organizations may be wary the holiday spirit will get lost in translation over a monitor or speaker, but holding a remote holiday party actually gives them an advantage when it comes to workplace culture, morale and cost savings.

Advantages of the Remote Holiday Party

For geographically distributed companies, the options may seem limited: undergo a costly process of bringing everyone together for an annual meeting or holiday gathering – or skip the celebration altogether. By thinking outside the box and leveraging collaboration tools for a “virtual holiday party”, companies can save on flying out remote workers, not to mention the costs of renting a venue and catering food. More importantly, a virtual event prevents companies from isolating their remote employees during an often stressful time of year.

Technology is advancing, business is expanding and the prevalence of teleworking will continue to increase. Rather than feeling like they have their hands tied when it comes to making remote workers feel involved and keeping up their morale, video, audio and web collaboration tools give businesses a unique opportunity to maintain a team-oriented culture during the holiday season.

Here are a few of our favorite innovative ideas for hosting a virtual holiday party:

Virtual Gift Exchange

Very similar to the traditional office party, coworkers are randomly assigned a person for a “Secret Santa” gift exchange. Participants buy their present per usual, but instead of exchanging the gift in person, they mail it to the “givee” so they can open it during a video conference with the rest of the team. Linking everyone through video brings new life to the standard holiday party of a geographically-challenged company. Some fun alternatives: Exchange cards, cookies or gag gifts instead.

Remote Karaoke, Games & Contests

High-quality collaboration tools give you a chance to think outside the box when spreading holiday cheer to your remote workforce. How about holding an ugly sweater contest? Set up a video conference so employees across the globe can share in the ugliness and hilarity. Or, give the average conference call a dose of holiday spirit by using your audio conferencing tools to have a karaoke battle or do some caroling.

Acknowledge Business Successes & Awards

During the holidays, most companies take the time to share company successes and announce individual awards. Using video, audio or web conferencing technologies are great options for including remote workers in these year-end celebrations, especially for businesses looking to save on travel and hosting expenses. This approach is especially effective if you have a dynamic presentation to share. (No boring PowerPoint slides, please!)

Trivia & Prizes

A common (and valid) concern about virtual events like audio conferences and web conferences is that remote attendees will lose focus and get distracted by things in their own environment. One way to combat the divided attention is to take breaks from the content action to have trivia questions and polls, and then offer prizes and giveaways. Use a fun game like “Buzzword Bingo” and award a big prize. These types of engagement strategies can go a long way to holding your audience’s attention during a remote session.

Party on Social Media

Generate a social media hashtag specific to your company holiday party. This is a fun way to encourage everyone to share ugly Christmas sweaters, holiday desk decorations, delicious feasts and even company gifts. Studies have shown that by sharing a positive company culture, you’re more likely to attract new talent and demonstrate a strong reputation to prospective clients.

Important Things to Consider

  • Plan ahead – Just like with a work meeting or conference, you’ll want to make sure the logistics of joining your remote holiday party are squared away, everyone has access and there’s a fallback plan for any technical hiccups.
  • Count your RSVP list – More party-goers may put different pressures on your collaboration tools. You’ll want to make sure the technologies you’re using will fit the size of your party.
  • Pay attention to time zones – Remote workers may be dialing-in to your party from all over the world. Keep this in mind when scheduling and get recommendations on dates and times early.
  • Share an agenda – Having an itinerary to keep the event organized and efficient is essential. It isn’t as easy to mingle online, and the last thing you want is your remote party veering off into Snoozeville. Keep your party on track with a fun itinerary that is clearly communicated to all attendees.

Collaboration technologies may empower employees to be self-driven and self-efficient throughout the year, but they’re extremely useful when it comes to bringing teams together – especially during the holidays. Using everyday video, web and audio conferencing tools to hold a holiday party helps your company’s culture keep pace with today’s teleworking trends. Not to mention they encourage your team to add a little innovation, creativity and fun to the age-old holiday office party.

If you’d like more fun ideas for holding a remote holiday party at your office, ask our remote party planning specialists at Select.