For lots of companies, the end of the calendar year heralds celebrations. Employees gather around cubicle decorating contests and share decorated cookies adorned in “ugly” sweaters. Organizations bring their staff together for off-work dinners, drinks, and gift swaps. It’s a time to shake off the stress from work and start anew in the presence of coworkers-turned-friends, to boost morale, and to greet the brand-new year that’s just around the corner.
But where do remote workers fit in this time of celebration? How can you ensure your out-of-office staff feel involved in the employee holiday celebrations your staff has come to cherish and anticipate? These five suggestions will help you set the tone for a festive holiday season that warms the hearts of workers both near and far.
1. Bring Your Remote Employees to the Party in Person
Your remote employees spend the majority of their time collaborating with in-house employees, and together, they create incredible work. Why not capitalize on that budding camaraderie and show remote employees how much they mean to you and your team by inviting them to your office celebration? If possible, help make accommodations to support their travel and lodging so they can enjoy the party to the fullest.
Worried about cost? Consider Owl Labs’ suggestion, “If the cost of airfare and accommodations seems prohibitive, look for other meetings in December and January that might require these employees to travel to your headquarters anyway and see if you can arrange your celebrations around those meetings.”
2. Host a Virtual Party
If gathering your remote staff is an impossibility, there are other ways to help them feel involved with your holiday celebrations. Consider mailing your employees a “party in a box” kit complete with treats and other holiday flair. Then, if possible, organize a video call to bring them physically into a room for some inter-office socialization while people open their gifts and converse over treats.
Alternatively, if your remote employees live near one another, you could organize a remote employee holiday party that mimics the activities you’re planning at your headquarters.
3. Organize a Secret Santa-style Gift Exchange
If your remote employees are interested, you can organize a remote gift exchange using a gift exchange generator such as Elfster, which will sort and randomly assign names to gift exchange participants. Consider offering your employees a theme and a budget for their gifts; that way, remote employees who might not be as well acquainted with your in-house team can still work to find gifts their colleagues will love.
4. Get Creative with a Festive Competition
The holidays can be a great time to showcase hidden talents and encourage your staff to embrace their creative strengths. Consider organizing a challenge that in-house and remote employees can all enjoy, such as an ugly sweater competition, awkward holiday photo contest, or gingerbread house decorating extravaganza. You could consider sending your remote employees some supplies to get them started, and providing similar supplies to staffers in-house. From there, encourage participants to show off their finished products by video or via images–then display the fruits of your employees’ efforts both in the office and on your company’s collaboration tool of choice.
5. Embrace the Spirit of Giving
Another great way to help engage your remote staff in rewarding holiday celebrations is to consider bringing your employees together around a cause. You could choose to sponsor a family for the holidays, for example, and have employees work together to collect, wrap, and donate the goods on a family’s wish list. Or, consider raising money for a cause in a fun way, such as via a virtual race (wherein your registration will raise money for a given cause and employees will be rewarded with a metal for running a race wherever it’s convenient for them). You could even consider designing team t-shirts and encouraging participants to take photos of themselves on their virtual runs.
Sharing and gratitude are the reasons for the holiday season. What better time is there to show your remote employees how important they are to your in-house team by involving them in your holiday cheer? No matter which option you choose, you’re sure to leave your remote staff with a warm holiday glow that they’ll carry with them into the new year.
Featured image by Cristian Escobar