This year, many of us adapted to working from home and shifting a lot of our in-person social activities to virtual space. Working remotely is now the new normal for many businesses and companies. But it can be hard to boost morale without weekly after-work drinks and other office-based events that allow people to connect, share their successes and de-stress.
Boosting morale with social events is more important now than ever. As science journalist Tara Haelle explains, most of us have a diminished capacity to handle stress at the moment, owing to a decrease in what she terms “surge capacity”. One of the most important ways we can care for ourselves and those we work with is to make sure we all stay connected and feel supported, now and in the future.
What better way to keep everyone connected - no matter where they are - other than through hosting some fun, virtual events. Read on for some of our favourite ideas to help you adapt your social calendar to a virtual space.
Play a Game
Trivia is a fun and easy way to test out the knowledge of people in your company. And it can be as serious or silly as you like - test industry-specific knowledge, or how many brands of cereal each team can name. You can use features such as break-out rooms so that teams can confer their answers in private before rejoining the group. Not to mention the potentially entertaining options for virtual backgrounds!
Run a GIF or meme contest
It’s as simple as it sounds - have a judging panel and the entrants. The best GIF or meme wins! Bonus points for originality and the currency of the meme. There are tonnes of generators available to use for free, and it’s a chance to flex both your creativity and sense of humour.
Just like a traditional games night, except you can use one of the many online games platforms. Compete against each other and take it in turns to pick games.
Just like normal charades, except you pretend to be animals. You can make it optional whether or not they are allowed to make the sound of the animal (always entertaining). The team that guesses the most animals in a minute wins.
Online scavenger hunt
This can be done utilising an online maps service, such as Google Earth. The person building the scavenger hunt can go to an undisclosed location and take a screenshot of the street view there. It is then up to the players to find out where the picture was taken, using a number of clues. Things like signs with writing and well-known monuments are often big giveaways!
Host an online painting night
Send everyone some painting supplies and a canvas, and have them all paint along as you complete a landscape or monument. Time to practice your very best Bob Ross impression.
Virtual Yoga Class
Many yoga instructors now offer virtual classes. Get in touch with your favourite local studio and set up a virtual yoga class, which will help de-stress, get bodies moving and be a gentle way to end the day.
For those who are after a slightly quieter style of socialising, you can have an online dinner party. Some companies choose to send guests take-out from their favourite local eatery and then join together over video chat to eat and have a talk.
While people are at home, send out small care packages to your guest’s home addresses. This could include balloons, a small treat, or a game. Maybe you could send out bingo cards and then host a game online (see above) with everyone involved.
Book in for an online meditation class, and carve out some time to just breathe.
Just because things have gone virtual doesn’t mean the end of networking events. It’s possible to invite attendees from the industry to an online event. Just make sure you introduce everyone and have some good questions prepared to ask your attendees and get the conversations flowing. For more tips on networking events, we’ve compiled our top tips. (link to blog)
Industry expert lectures
Organise a series of lectures from industry leaders, career coaches or mental health advocates. There is always more knowledge to share, and now that things are virtual it is possible to invite speakers from all around the world!
Pick a theme and organise a series of panel sessions, in which an interviewer asks questions to a subject-matter expert. Themes can be on everything from developments in human rights law to self-care rituals and practices.
Workshops with industry experts
You can also host one-on-one or small group workshops, giving guests a more in-depth understanding of a topic or a skill. This can include everything from learning some new management skills or how to write better communications.
If you really want to do something big, partner, with other organisations and host a virtual summit - with a range of sessions and events for guests to get insights into the latest trends and findings. For example, check out Bamboohr, the world’s largest online summit for HR professionals.
Throw a Party
Host a “pet show”
One of the best parts of any online meeting is when a cheeky cat or adventurous dog wanders into the frame. Why not organise a whole event to introduce your pet to the rest of the office?
Make this as silly as you want! Sure, you can give the award to the best employee. But what about an award for the best haircut or for the silliest laugh?
You can pick a theme and let everyone decorate their home office space to match! Themed parties can include a beach party, winter wonderland or 90s sitcoms!(link to blog)
It’s now possible to host arts, literature, music and any other kind of festival online. Not only does this mean you can pick performers from around the world, but it means people can join from wherever they are!
This one speaks for itself! All around the world, people were enjoying dance parties from various lockdowns. Why not keep the party going for your next event? Pick a good audio interface and get the Livestream going.
Ready, Set, Virtual Event
Have a fantastic virtual event idea? In as little as two minutes you can make your event live, without leaving your desk, and change lives through supporting education projects with Humanitix.
Em Meller lives and works in Sydney, Australia on the unceded lands of the Gadigal people. Her work has appeared in places like The Lifted Brow, Cordite, and Going Down Swinging. She has studied creative writing at the University of Technology, Sydney, and at Oxford University.