10 Virtual Work Party Ideas that Don’t Suck

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Illustration of a man deejaying next to four video conference screens

If the latest trends suggest anything, working from home is the future of work. If your job can be done remotely, chances are your company is going to adopt telecommuting policies moving forward. This also means that remote teams will need to collaborate virtually, as well as engage in water cooler talk online. Suffice it to say, the new generation of office employees will be referred to as the ‘quaranteams’.

How will this impact officer camaraderie? Businesses understand the necessity of workplace teamwork since it leads to productive brainstorming sessions, on-the-fly project development and, according to a myriad of studies from over the years, higher productivity levels. Be it introverts or extroverts, office fellowships contribute more to companies than texting, emailing and grunting.

For organisations that still want to facilitate an environment of inclusivity, openness and joy, managers are trying to come up with a diverse array of work party ideas, including online. Since it’s more than likely that offices will be unable to host in-person festivities, celebrating Halloween or rewarding the team for a job well done will need to be performed over Zoom or Skype. As a result, we’ve compiled a list of 10 great virtual work party ideas to ensure that your staff doesn’t lose its office spirit.

1. Share photos and videos

One fun thing about doing Zoom conferences or participating in Google Hangouts is that everyone can get an intimate look into our humble abodes. We have seen this with politicians, corporate executives and television anchors. Firms can utilise this factor to their advantage: sharing photos or videos of home office decorations, homemade treats or personalised work settings that goes beyond the grey cubicle.

2. Present virtual gift exchanges

Gift exchanges can be hard to do when most of the personnel is offsite and working from home. However, colleagues can still present virtual gift exchanges during an online workplace party by giving electronic gift cards, charitable contributions in someone's name to something the recipient is passionate about, or subscriptions to some kind of web service. Indeed, you can always ship a gift to somebody, but this might be a tad impersonal for some of your coworkers.

3. Recognise remote teams for the hard work

Does a virtual office party need to be for Christmas, Halloween or International Coffee Day? Nope. You can host one to recognise and celebrate your remote teams’ dedication, hard work and success during these rough times. What better way to ensure everyone is on the same page and maintains incredible job satisfaction than by recognising the workforce’s contributions, no matter how small?

Remember, for many people, working from home can be an isolating experience. Therefore, by hosting one of these get-togethers, even online, is a great way to lift someone’s spirit.

4. Test employees' talents

One of the easiest virtual work party ideas is testing employees’ talents. These can be holiday-themed, or they can be generic endeavours at an internet-based affair. So, what are some things that you can do? Well, the most important thing is to make sure that it’s something creative. For example, team members can produce GIFs, memes or Photoshopped images. Or maybe workers can beat Minesweeper in 60 seconds. Whatever the case, it should not be too competitive!

5. Host games during video calls

Why not host games during video calls? You can invite staff to participate in games for virtual office celebrations. Thanks to the power of the web, these games can go beyond office bingo or Pictionary. If there’s a group of gamers at the company, perhaps a session of NBA Live 98 or Pac-Man can be arranged. Some card sharks at the office? Gin rummy, poker or blackjack can all be played online.

You should be aware of a service called Go Game Expo, a virtual experience platform that offers a plethora of proprietary game modules, live stream capabilities and a reception area. It can be a fun, unique and engaging way to bring the office together in these times.

6. Treat employees to a special themed dinner

Sure, your staff can’t meet at a restaurant to enjoy a buffet of ribs, all-you-can-eat sushi or gourmet dinners that consist of a couple of shrimps and asparagus. But that doesn’t mean the marketing department or accounting team can’t enjoy a special themed dinner. Indeed, a great virtual work party idea is to have everyone cook a meal and present it on camera.

Just, please, let everyone eat off camera! It will be quite awkward if everyone was chowing down on their foie gras during a Zoom conference call!

7. Enjoy a class together

Creative writing, sketching or graphic design – enjoying a class together online can be a surprising and fun office party celebration. Indeed, it certainly is out of the ordinary when you consider that so many traditional workplace get-togethers are about drinking and dancing. But this is an opportunity to experiment with something different, while also giving everyone lessons to learn something new.

8. Participate in a Festivus-themed virtual party

Everyone is pretty much aware of Festivus, thanks to Seinfeld. But while not everyone on this planet is a diehard fan of the iconic 1990s television sitcom, most people can still partake in a Festivus-themed party since it's a holiday that precedes the programme. What would this type of celebration entail exactly? Well, here are some things you can throw around with the team:

  • Decorate backgrounds with a do-it-yourself aluminium pole
  • Air grievances of the company or colleagues (make it light and humorous, like a roast)
  • Host trivia related to Festivus or the Seinfeldseries
  • Play an online fighting game to have a Feats of Strength

Remember, there’s a Festivus for the rest of us! And this could be an alternative Christmas party idea.

9. Ship care packages

We mentioned earlier about virtual gift exchanges, and that some people might not be enthusiastic receiving items shipped to their home. That said, if your team is willing to accept gifts in their home, then you should certainly consider care packages, which are essentially parcels of items, whether it’s an assortment of food or cards. Everyone who received a care package can open it during a video call. And, yes, even the boss who has hounded you over those TPS reports.

10. Watch a movie or show together

Netflix… on Zoom? Why not? Since your team may be unable to attend a movie theatre to watch the latest picture from legendary filmmaker Neil Breen, you and your colleagues can log on to a video conferencing service and watch a movie or show together. You can also have intermissions to discuss what happened or predict what will occur next. At the end of the film or television episode, you can have an extended discussion.

Karen from HR is being promoted. Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are around the corner. The nation’s birth is about to be commemorated. Jill from legal is pregnant. Indeed, there are all sorts of reasons why businesses host office parties, no matter how cringeworthy or wasteful they may feel.

There is, however, a purpose to these workplace get-togethers, and that is usually camaraderie and team building that can lead to better productivity, and a higher quality of work and job satisfaction. Now that more companies are implementing work-from-home policies, it’s more important than ever before to keep people engaged and connected, even if that means celebrating the new year on a Zoom call!

What other virtual work party ideas can you think of? Let us know in the comments section below!