VIRTUAL TEAM CELEBRATIONS
HOW TO BUILD CAMARADERIE AND TRUST IN YOUR REMOTE TEAM
We get together for birthdays, luncheons, after-work drinks, and other special occasions when we work together in person. Milestones, birthdays, and holidays give us plenty of reasons to celebrate, and remote workers should not be excluded from the festivities.
One solution to this problem is to coordinate a virtual team celebration. Not only is this a great way to recognise your team’s hard work and special moments throughout the year, but it also offers a way for your remote colleagues to stay connected. It’s common for remote workers to experience loneliness and isolation, making it extra important for these groups to find different ways to feel connected with one another. With the help of online tools, remote workers can feel as if they are in the same room.
Not all teams are alike, and what works for us might not work for you. There is a multitude of ways you can commemorate special moments with your colleagues — the best way to find out what’s right for your team is by being curious and experimental.
Below are a few of our favourite ways to throw a virtual party. For a full list of ideas, download our Virtual Team Guide.
Fun ways to celebrate with your virtual team
- PARTY ONLINE. Video conferencing tools are awesome these days. Getting out of work mode and connecting on a personal level is important to build trust.
- HAVE A VIRTUAL DANCE PARTY. Cue the music, wear a funny hat, and prepare a few party questions to get people talking. Select someone to be the DJ and then everyone gets up to boogie! The Zapier team picks “a popular song off Spotify, asked everyone in the company who was online to pull up Apple’s Photo Booth app and take a five-second video of themselves dancing, then upload it to Giphy and create a GIF of it. Then, they created a montage and posted it in the company-wide Slack channel.”
- GOAL ACHIEVEMENT CEREMONY. Celebrations aren’t just for holidays…You and your team can establish a standard celebration to enjoy every time a teammate crushes a goal or reaches a milestone.
- TEAM VICTORY SONG. This fun idea can include a song that you and your team choose, or (if you’re a creative bunch) a song that you create together every time a major goal is reached. Drop a link in a group chat whenever you hear of a win.
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Welcome to the Collaboration Superpowers podcast. My name is Lisette and I’m interviewing people and companies doing great things remotely. Hello, everybody. Welcome to episode 104. Today’s topic was inspired by somebody in my Virtual Team Talk Slack group. She asked about a week ago if somebody knew any techniques for celebrating as a virtual team. And while I have done a whole episode about creative perks for remote teams, I haven’t really done an episode that’s specifically focused on team celebration, so that’s what we’re going to do today. How to celebrate as a virtual team? I’m not going to spend too long on this, but I think it is worth mentioning that showing appreciation and saying thank you on virtual teams is very important. And I always mention this one, particular quote that says, “Showing appreciation can boost morale, but more importantly, not showing appreciation can decrease morale,” which means if we don’t take any action, we are going to have a negative effect.
Okay, but say we want to take action. What do we do? In the office, we can do things like gather for birthday parties, go out to lunch, have drinks together after work, company outings. There are all kinds of ways that we celebrate naturally together. Jurgen Appelo tells the story of one of the places where he worked where they put a gong in their office. Whenever somebody had something that they wanted to celebrate, they would come and ring the gong and people would gather and hear what the news was. And I thought that was pretty fun. But when we’re remote, we don’t have that luxury, and we need to celebrate in different ways. Now when the whole team is remote, the options are relatively straightforward. We just have to get creative. Because we are all equally remote, we’re on an equal playing field. And videoconferencing gives us a great opportunity to have virtual coffees or teas or other adult beverages. My colleague Gretchen and I used to have virtual pie together when we finished a chapter of the book we were working on. Bree Reynolds, who works at FlexJobs, talks about having virtual ice cream parties together. Some people play games together. Whatever it is, you can’t really go wrong. The best thing is just to do it and then keep doing it. So even if whatever you try doesn’t really work out, people will still really appreciate the efforts that are made towards the celebration.
So now that’s having experiences together. But if you want to give somebody a gift, what are some of those ideas? I talk extensively about this in my creative perks episode. That’s episode number 53. So definitely go back there to get the details. But very easy, creative things that you can send people are pizza, for instance, or coffee gift cards. There are memberships to co-working spaces in gyms that are always very appreciated, house cleaning services, massages. And if you just want to do something very basic and just say thank you for something, you can always use the app that my colleague Sergei made, which is called kudobox.co. It allows me to send a personalized kudo card to a colleague using Twitter, which has the extra benefit of being a public acknowledgement, which is always nice. If you don’t have the luxury of everyone on your team being remote, things get a little bit harder. And I think the best tip that I can give for these hybrid situations is to make sure that every team is treated equally. So if one team goes out to dinner, then the other team goes out to dinner. Or if the co-located team goes out to dinner, you send the remote employees gift certificates so that they can go out to dinner with their spouses, something that keeps the playing field even. I learned this tip from [Ralph Von Rozmolen – 04:15] who was an Agile coach, managing three offices in three different locations. And he said that that was really one of the secrets to their success. You can hear his interview in episode 24.
And the other thing that goes a long way is bringing people together face-to-face. So if you’re going to celebrate and it’s really important, get everybody together.
As much as I love the virtual world, I can’t deny that many, many people have told me that getting together face-to-face is simply a great way to connect people. I just interviewed a company that specializes in retreats for remote teams. If you want to learn more about that, they’re called Rebel and Connect. And you can hear them in episode 103. Okay, so to wrap up, if we really want to do virtual team celebrations, there are some key things to keep in mind. One is be very deliberate about doing your celebrations. Make sure that they happen. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to be done. The other is really celebrate your successes. Find ways to celebrate together with your team and to share good news. I’m not saying ignore the negative stuff. That’s something for another episode. What I want to focus on today is just making sure that we plan for success.
The other thing to keep in mind is to experiment. Like I said before, even if something doesn’t work out or it’s not quite what you expected, your efforts are always appreciated. And the last thing is to treat your hybrid teams as equally as you can. When you’re celebrating, you want everybody to be involved as much as possible.
Okay, so I hope I’ve given you some good tips and some good ways for celebrating on your virtual team. If you try one of these things out, I would love to hear about it. Please get in touch. You can find all my information at collaborationsuperpowers.com. Stay tuned next week for my interview with [inaudible – 06:13]. He is the co-founder of a startup in Silicon Valley and he gives me his perspective on remote teams in the startup world.
A huge thanks to Nick, the podcast monster. He is the guy that makes this podcast sound so pro. Thanks, Nick. You can hire him to make you a star at podcastmonster.com. And a big, big thanks to Alfred Boland, the graphic designer for Collaboration Superpowers. You can hire him to make you look cool at bolanden.nl. All right, everyone. Until next week, let’s party and be powerful.