There’s no denying that working as a remote team member has its advantages. The ability to take calls or notes in your PJs, make an alternative schedule when possible, and maintain a home office is a plus—for 11 months out of the year, at least. Then December comes around and suddenly, you’re missing out on impromptu cake in the break room and Friday afternoon bonding hours. Shoot.
Just because you work remotely doesn’t mean you can’t build relationships with co-workers and get into the holiday spirit like other office teams. From one-time get-togethers to casual no-meeting-required celebrations, there are plenty of ways to stay connected and bring the festive cheer with remote team celebrations. Check out these super rad holiday ideas perfect for connecting with your team—whether they’re in the city or the North Pole.
Arrange No-Business Virtual Hangouts
We all love Google Hangouts for interview sessions and weekly meetings, but how about using the platform as the name suggests—for actual hangouts?
Convert one of your calibration meetings into a theme, like a Best Holiday Costume competition, 30-second Christmas carol karaoke, or even Sunglasses Day when the group needs a random non-festive pick-me-up. When you need a little more face time, just send an email invite for a meaningful holiday celebration—even if you can’t cheers in person.
Host a Secret Santa Online Gift Exchange
This virtual tool is the perfect solution for remote teams who want to host a traditional office gift exchange. Elfster, an online gift swap organizer, simplifies the entire name-swapping process and includes features like wish lists, personalized recommendations, and charitable giving options. And it’s free. Wham bam thank you ma’am.
Slack off at the Watercooler
Make use of internal instant messaging systems like HipChat or Slack to encourage daily communication that goes beyond quick answers and morning hellos. When employees need a break from talking shop, encourage them to join your holiday-inspired virtual watercooler.
The cool thing about HipChat and Slack is that you can create different ‘rooms’ or ‘channels’ for specific topics. So when you catch the holiday bug, browse the ‘Holiday Cheer Room’ or ‘Festive Recipes Board’ to bring some celebratory vibes to your remote 9-to-5.
As the New Year rolls into town, keep up the jubilance with a ‘Music Room’, ‘Birthday Room’ or ‘Big Wins Room’ to better workplace culture year-round. Never underestimate the power of a perfectly timed GIF or emoticon to boost morale.
Swap Holiday Funnies Competitively
The most wonderful time of the year deserves more than just one evening of recognition. Instant messaging can also be perfect channels for week-long holiday themed contests.
This idea encourages participation with little effort (or on-camera requirements) as employees are more likely to participate in a celebration that doesn’t deviate too much from normal schedules.
When everyone signs on, have them to send their best GIF or meme related to the occasion you’re celebrating. Crown a winner each day and reward the person with a gift card
Try to get the whole team involved in the fun. Is it really a holiday if you don’t send an Elf GIF to your co-workers? Or something referencing Clark Griswald’s holiday madness? Absolutely not!
Throw a Party Anyway
If you’ve been tasked with the tricky job of organizing a remote party, never fear—help is at hand. Take a page from Less Accounting’s holiday party playbook to turn it up a notch.
Each year, the team of 11 signs onto Skype and sticks to a $20 budget for each other’s annual gifts. The catch is that recipients place their mics on mute while the rest of the crew shops for them. The result is comparable to strolling through Target with your professional comrades, laughing all the way.
Sketch Whiteboard Agendas
Virtual whiteboards like Realtimeboard are often used for project timelines and task updates, but who says you can’t dedicate a whiteboard to something employee-related?
Promote workplace culture and employee bonding by creating a virtual whiteboard that asks employees to gradually make a traditions board, gather favorite holiday recipes, or revisit funny throwback moments from the year.
Then, create and follow a themed agenda based on what you gather to keep your remote celebrations from falling flat. Use the whiteboard content to generate conversation starters and prevent awkward silences.
Compile a Soundtrack of the Season
We all listen to music throughout the day to stay sane, so why not share your playlist with the team?
Allow co-workers to play DJ by making a collaborative playlist on a music streaming site. Then shared the queue with your colleagues come celebration time. You and your co-workers can edit the playlist and add songs all season long. As the organizing Ninja behind this movement, only you can decide when it’s finally acceptable to play said holiday music.
You could even burn CDs and mail hard copies as a surprise for seasonal listening.
With a little creativity, remote celebrations can still be special team occasions. Incorporate a few of these ideas into the mix to ensure your team has (break room) cake and eats it too.
How do you handle holidays and remote team celebrations? Let us know some of your best ideas below!