10 Virtual celebration ideas header

Remote work is a fantastic option for employees to have. I've been fully remote for over three years now, and I can't imagine not having the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere now. And for many businesses today, you could even say it’s an essential feature.

Even with all of the positives of remote working, keeping a team connected while physically distanced is still a real challenge. So, how can business leaders introduce activities that encourage employee engagement? Not every meeting has to be a "meeting," and virtual games on a Friday can be just as fun as an in-person happy hour.

Plus, a well-connected team is likely to be more productive and have a greater sense of shared purpose. (At least, that's how I feel when we have these virtual activities as a team.)

So, in this post, I've gathered some of the virtual celebration ideas (or just general fun ideas). We'll go through:

Why should you celebrate?

When you work remotely full time, it's easy to slip into a pattern of just work, work, [skip lunch], work. I'm really bad at that.

If you're a manager though, and you don't want that to be your team culture... why not celebrate the little things? Like the arrival of the weekend! Organize virtual meets every Friday, maybe with the bonus of an early finish?

Use special occasions—and even "regular" occasions—as a good excuse to get your team together online and shake up the seemingly never-ending groundhog day of remote working.

(Let's face it. Virtual birthday parties and Christmas holiday parties are the bare bones of the remote online party calendar. We can do better than that.)

I'll go through a few more celebration ideas to fill out your calendar in just a bit. But whatever you’re celebrating, trust that it’ll be worthwhile given the positive effects this will have on your team.

It helps beat loneliness

A remote workspace can be incredibly liberating—but inevitably lonely at times. And there’s nothing like an office party (or just a mini team break) to raise your remote employees’ spirits.

After all, we’re social animals, and gathering a few of your colleagues together (even digitally) can provide a tonic that's far superior to binge-watching box sets on Netflix. Yes, I've watched every season of The Office in a week, and no, it wasn't as fun as playing Mario Kart with my coworkers for an hour.

It makes for good bonding with your teammates

A major challenge in remote working is making sure collaboration can still take place effectively. Email will do the job, but it’s a pretty clunky and time-consuming method.

Dialpad has a useful instant group messaging so that your team can exchange SMS or multimedia text messages from any device anywhere, without toggling between apps. We use this to share PIN codes for virtual games like Kahoot! And since there's a video conferencing feature too, this makes the app our go-to for virtual office celebrations:

sharing virtual game code in dialpad app

No more CC'ing people on lengthy email explanations or instructions just to have social get-togethers, which means more time for trivia and word games (my favorite).

(It also helps, of course, that Dialpad’s video conferencing lets us do actual work by allowing us to have groups of people meet online.)

It improves mood and productivity overall

Team-building exercises can provide team members with a sense of purpose. And feeling like you’re a part of a team is a much better incentive for doing your best than feeling like you’re only working to line someone else's pockets.

A virtual celebration can really help to bring teams together with the sense of a common goal—yes, even if it is to beat this level and find out who's the werewolf. If we can relax and laugh together, it helps lift everyone's mood... Which I think is reason enough to do it, but if you need something more "concrete," then there's no shortage of research that suggests that happier employees are far more likely to be productive.

Common challenges of virtual parties

Organizing an "analog" party and making sure you’re up-to-date with the rules of charades, trivia, and other party games is one thing, but virtual parties do come with challenges of their own. It's not a cakewalk. Here are a few of the big challenges.

Technology

Hosting a virtual event without good technology is the thing that'll kill virtual events for your team. When everyone's itching to get started and play, the last thing they want to do is wait for you to start an event with poor Wi-Fi and clunky hardware.

So, use technology that you trust (or at least that you've tested so you know it works).

Again, we use Dialpad’s app because everyone can use it no matter what devices they're on. Desktops, laptops, mobile devices—they can even join the virtual meeting from their web browsers. Usually we have anywhere from five to 30 or 40 people on these video calls, and if you're hosting mass virtual celebrations, you'll want to make sure that your video conferencing platform can actually support those numbers.

Oh, and if everyone's working from home, their internet connections should be really good. Otherwise, even if you're using a great video conferencing tool, it'll still lag and be pixelated. That's why Dialpad collaborated with T-Mobile to give work-from-home folks lightning-fast 5G connectivity from anywhere for HD call quality along with a unified communications platform for all your gaming—err, working—needs:

dialpad t-mobile collaborate

No interruptions, no glitches throughout your gathering.

Gatecrashers

Yes, even a virtual party can be gatecrashed. People with way too much time on their hands ("hackers") have been known to jump into virtual conversations and set a few bugs free.

This hasn't happened to me yet, but as a baseline when it comes to hackers, just make sure your software has the usual security features. Dialpad uses advanced encryption and also can require passcodes to enter meetings, along with a meeting lock feature so that no one else can enter once all your attendees are in:

locking a conference call in dialpad

Interest

Who wants to turn up for a virtual party to be bored to death? Our attention spans are notoriously short, and I've found that an hour is pretty much enough for virtual fun-times. After that, people want to get started with their weekends and do other stuff that doesn't involve their coworkers. (Sad, but true.)

Keep it short and sweet. Unless people actually want to stay, which is also pretty sweet, in which case I'd extend it until everyone's had enough.

Okay, now let's get into actual ideas for these virtual celebrations.

14 virtual celebration ideas for remote teams

I could go on forever here, as parties are great and you could really find any reason for throwing one. But you're probably easy, so I've whittled the list down to 15.

1. Virtual happy hour is still happy hour

Many workplaces like to finish early on Fridays to allow employees to socialize and partake in a beer or two. No reason why this can’t be achieved in virtual fashion, right?

If you really wanted to do it up, you could even send everyone cocktail ingredients, deliver an "expert" tutorial, or hire a mixologist to put on a show. (My favorite cocktail is the 20th Century, and it's a bit of an operation to make virtually, but it's fun.)

2. All aboard for game night

Traditional board games bring teams together with a sense of common purpose and are great ice-breakers. Tabletopia allows you to play virtual reality versions of old favorites like Monopoly, Cluedo, and Risk.

Alternatively, Outback Team Building is a company dedicated to providing entertainment for remote teams and comes with a virtual game show host.

3. Make a celebration fund

A great morale booster comes in the form of building a celebration fund for your virtual team-building get-togethers. Just like giving out gift cards or a small care package, allow each employee to buy some goodies of their choice. They can then show these off to their colleagues during your group video chat. Kinda like Secret Santa, but the all-season kind.

Letting someone come up with their own gift ideas is a great conversation starter and can encourage quieter employees to open up. For example, no one will be surprised if craft-beer-loving Chloe spends her allowance on four bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale every month, but Shy Clarence's decision to splash out on a new horror movie set might be a good conversation starter.

4. Deliver home-cooked meals for one another

Another simple idea )with potentially hilarious consequences) is to have a "cook-off." You can pair up employees to cook for one another. Make it random, choose a theme, or get everyone to make the same recipe.

(Don’t forget to take a note of dietary requirements—employees keeling over mid-meeting having eaten something they’re allergic to might kill the mood a little.)

5. Escape room!

Escape rooms are a real virtual gift when it comes to team-building activities. They take thought, but not too much. They need some physicality, but not a lot. They can be a bit scary—but shouldn’t induce panic attacks. And they make it essential for employees to work together. Win, win, win.

Here are three options:

1. Expedition Escape offers three rooms: a bank heist, Harry Houdini mystery, and a dystopian room. They’re real masters when it comes to attention to detail, and all three rooms have unique concepts.

expedition escape virtual game idea
Source: expeditionescape.com/online-escape-rooms/

2. The Panic Room has a huge number of themes available, including Sherlock Holmes and CSI.

3. 60out is great for small and large groups, and you can even set the difficulty level of your tasks—an excellent choice for both mystery lovers and problem solvers.

6. Attend online cooking classes together

You can spend a small fortune hiring a celebrity chef to come and wow your employees or just find a suitably easy YouTube video and screen share at a designated time from your own device.

Or if your business leaders have a sense of humor, they could go DIY, don a chef’s hat and jacket and run the cooking class themselves! It’s easy enough to do using a pre-prepared slideshow, or you could be brave and do it in real-time.

7. Flaunt each other on social media

There’s no need for the party to stop when your virtual meeting does. Keep the conversation going by launching a social media work group. Here you can share screenshots and the best moments from your celebration.

If you’ve chosen a quiz, why not have a small awards ceremony for the winner, and post that too? You can give shout-outs to achievers, both at work and play. You could even launch a podcast off the back of your social media activity. It’s a good way of keeping your employees engaged, and it can have bonus effects too–customers will see the human side of your business and what lovely people you are.

8. Take virtual tours together (Go to Paris!)

Remote working doesn't need to get in the way of throwing bigger events for your employees. And who wouldn’t love to go to Paris! Woyago throws one-hour virtual tours to the French capital, complete with a Parisian guide. Your team can learn about city highlights and lesser-known corners, complete challenges, and ask questions along the way. Mais oui!

virtual tours with work friends
Source: woyago.com/home/virtual-team-building-hangouts/picnic/

9. Join team scavenger hunts

A step on from a virtual reality tour is a scavenger hunt. Hosted by companies like Let’s Roam, your team can be taken on a tour of a specific city and complete challenges along the way. This one actually sounds really fun (I haven't had the chance to try it yet).

10. Build a highlight reel of your greatest hits

Save these for the end of the year. Send a questionnaire around to your employees to allow them to vote to award serious and humorous awards.

You could include best campaign, best customer service moment, greatest sales close, best dressed, finest haircut... The list can be endless, and personalized wherever possible.

11. What about a classic movie night?

Watching a classic movie is a cheap and cheerful way of bringing teams together. Do plenty of research in advance to find a film that pleases (almost) everyone. Go for something that’s engaging and will elicit reactions—horror films and thrillers tend to work well (but I will not stay for the horror film, nope).

Don’t forget to have an intermission halfway through so everyone can actually converse with one another.

12. And the classic karaoke night...

People may have a love/hate relationship with karaoke, but it’s definitely worth considering for smaller teams. With Dialpad, it’s easy to find a karaoke song on YouTube and allow others to follow it as they sing along—just use Dialpad's screen sharing feature:

screen sharing in dialpad

Set up a playlist in advance to keep things organized. You could even tie in a dance party, so people can groove along to the songs, rather than having to sit there in pain as an off-key Graham destroys "I Will Survive." Again.

👉Dialpad tip: What's neat about screen sharing in Dialpad is that you have the option of sharing just a tab or window, or your entire screen in the video call. This is a dream for karaoke, as you’ll be able to follow the music video, as well as see your colleagues’ reactions to your dulcet tones.

13. Take icebreaker quizzes

Quizzes are a great icebreaker for teams, especially at the end of a day’s hard work when employees might not have much enthusiasm left for hangouts with colleagues.

Have a different quiz master every week to keep things interesting. Or, for larger organizations, split into teams and allow each group to set questions on a specific subject.

14. Pet intros

If your team has pets, this can be a fun way to get to know your colleagues better. Ever since I got a puppy, I've found that bonding over pets is actually a real thing with coworkers. And it's awesome.

FAQs

Where can I find a virtual team-building activity for my remote team?

You’re in the right place. If you’ve scrolled straight down to our FAQs, you’ve missed all the meat in this sandwich. Pop the cursor on the sidebar scroller, head north, and you’ll find a wealth of virtual team-building activities right here.

What are virtual party ideas, exactly? And who cares?

Virtual party ideas are ways to fill the time during team bonding sessions. It’s one thing to meet for a beer and a group chat once in a while, but these occasions can fall prey to the loudest voices in the room taking over.

Setting fun activities gives a central purpose to group meetings and allows the quieter members of your team to join in the fun.

How do I know if my virtual activity was successful?

Well, I'd just ask, but if you really wanted to, you could get more formal feedback from your employees by sending around a survey. It's not as fun, but hey, whatever works for you.

👉 Dialpad tip: Speaking of surveys, did you know you can survey customers for instant feedback using Dialpad's contact center software. Customers can rate their call experience with you just by pressing a number on their keypad. Dialpad will do the rest, even compiling analytics figures so you can measure levels of customer satisfaction as they happen.

Where to start with these team celebration ideas?

Getting started is always the most challenging part, but a little planning will make a world of difference. Work out a budget and be sure to stick to it. Gauge interest from your workforce, and offer plenty of choice.

Stay connected with these virtual celebration ideas

Remote work is no longer a novelty. Even if your team isn't fully remote, it's still helpful to have virtual team-building activities so that the ones who are remote won't feel left out.

These virtual celebration ideas are a great way to build real workplace rapport, even if everyone's living on different continents. So go on, have some fun with your team beyond just virtual happy hours!