In the office, we gather for birthday parties, lunch, drinks after work, and company outings. But remote workers don’t have that luxury. How do we celebrate together as a virtual team?
Be deliberate about your celebrations
Milestones, birthdays, and holidays give us plenty of reasons to celebrate. It’s important for virtual teams to take advantage of these events. For one, it builds camaraderie, which builds trust. Second, celebrating together helps build morale. More importantly, failing to make the time to celebrate together can decrease morale. Remote workers can feel especially disconnected, so we need to find ways to share good news and celebrate together.
It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or cost a lot of money. Sometimes even just an email or a quick phone call is enough. But if the whole team is remote, why not hop on a video call together for dinner or a drink? Video conferencing tools are great these days. Decorate your backdrop, play games, wear hats. Being virtual is a great opportunity to get creative.
If you have a hybrid team, remember to treat your colleagues as equally as possible.
Experiment with your celebrations
Two colleagues who wrote a book together would celebrate with virtual pie after every chapter was completed. They wore hats for extra celebratory effect. Another company sent a gift certificate to a local restaurant in lieu of the worker not being able to join the team dinner.
FlexJobs employee Brie Reynolds talks about having virtual ice cream parties together. Some people play games together. Whatever it is, you can’t go too wrong. The best thing is to just do it… and then keep doing it. Even if what you try doesn’t work out, people will still usually appreciate the efforts you made.
Take a moment to think about the success and achievements happening in your network. What can you do today to celebrate?
Tools for virtual celebrations
- Zoom.us – Simply one of the best video conferencing tools out there.
- BlueJeans – “interactive, two-way video for teams of any size”.
- appear.in – an easy, instant way to have a video call.
- Dr Clue’s treasure hunts – virtual (and in person) treasure hunts for teams.
- Icebreakers for virtual teams
- Kudobox.co – an easy way to say thank you online.
- Catch – send quick video messages that expire after 24 hours.
- Telepresence — Teleport to your company party in a Kubi or Beam Pro.
- Sococo – Sococo is an actual virtual office where you can meet and work with your remote colleagues online.
- PukkaTeam – “realtime team presence through automated, regular webcam selfies and one-click video calling.”
- Bisner – “A social work environment where coworkers meet, interact and connect.”
- Walkabout Workplace – online workplace (i.e., virtual office) connecting remote teams.
- And even more tools…
More virtual celebration resources
- As sweet as the real thing: virtual pie – by Happy Melly
- Celebrating success and failure – by Happy Melly
- Can you have a real celebration with a virtual team? – by CBS News
- How to celebrate project success with a distributed team – by Bridging the Gap
- Celebrating major milestones remotely – by WorkFrom
Podcast production by Podcast Monster
Graphic design by Alfred Boland
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.