As more and more companies liberate themselves from finding talent in a single geographical location, the traditional office party could become a thing of the past. While I have had my fair share of awkward moments at office parties, they can also be critical components of building and maintaining company culture.
December 18, 2019 will go down in history as the day of Kalamuna’s very first remote holiday party (and also, coincidentally, the day the House impeached President Trump). I report this news to you as the humble planner of said party, because fun is best when shared. Though, more importantly, I want to reveal what I learned about crafting an engaging and joyous social gathering for a geographically dispersed team.
So, without further ado, here are four tricks to throwing an epic remote office party.
#1 - Plan a detailed agenda
This seems like overkill when considering a social gathering. However, when everyone joins from their own home office spaces, an office party can feel more like a meeting. Rather than naturally moving around different conversations, there is a single discussion commanding everyone’s attention. For this reason, a remote office party will be much more successful with an intentionally crafted agenda. Plan a mix of playful and reflective activities with a facilitator and assigned roles as appropriate. Think through all the logistics (like forming teams and submitting answers), so the party feels seamless to attendees.
- Carol all the way in
- Festive costume contest (ugly sweaters encouraged)
- Top secret holiday game #1
- Top secret holiday game #2
- Best Kalamuna moment of 2019 (from everyone)
- Celebratory CEO toast
- Carol all the way out
#2 - Select activities with your team in mind
You could copy the agenda I put together (top secret games divulged below), but I recommend considering your team’s skills and interests when planning your party. Our CEO, Andrew, loves puns. So, naturally I chose a pun-filled game. Our Director of Technology, Rob, and our sales team, Nick and Sean, sing and play instruments. So, I asked if they would perform carols at the start and close of the party. Like most companies, Kalamuna includes a blend of introverts and extroverts, so I chose both collaborative and independent games. Start your brainstorm process by thinking first of your team.
#3 - Thoughtfully incorporate a range of communication tools
Dispersed teams collaborate successfully using a variety of tools. Consider all the tools you have available when planning your remote office party. For instance, I leveraged a slide deck, Google Hangouts, and Slack. Though I acknowledge slide decks and parties don’t often go together, it allowed me to have all the games and activities in one place. I created an interactive Jeopardy board using layered screenshots on a slide, so it could be uncovered in real-time. We met via Google Hangouts, allowing us to both see and hear one another. Slack allowed the team to silently submit their answers to an independent game. There’s no need to overcomplicate things with too many tools, but also no need to reinvent the wheel when considering effective collaboration.
#4 - Leave space for mystery by sharing only what’s needed in advance
The agenda I shared above is the one the team received in advance of the party (with the games listed only as “Top secret holiday game #1” and “Top secret holiday game #2). Everyone needs enough information to come prepared, but leaving a little mystery fosters fun (and prevents people from pre-Googling the answers to the games). After much searching for remote party games, I gave up and instead adapted ideas for traditional holiday parties. The best options I found were from Redbubble. In particular, we played their “Jeopardy: Christmas Edition” and “Guess the Carol: Emoji Edition” games. There’s no need to generate new game ideas, but also no need to restrict yourself to those planned for remote teams.
I hope this inspires you to plan a remote party of your own (and if so, happy party planning!). If you’re interested in an invite to our next party, great news.
We’re hiring! Check out our open positions.