As businesses, slowly but surely, begin to gather again, there is a possibility that your company may still be choosing the virtual route. In that case, ECEDA is sharing important tips for hosting virtual gatherings.
Even though we’ve successfully closed the door on 2020, we are still navigating the throes of a global pandemic, and a large majority of the nation is still working and operating mostly (or fully) from home.
Whether your team is back in the office with safety measures in place, still fully remote, or juggling a staggered/hybrid environment of half-virtual/half-in-office operation, there’s no glancing over the fact that COVID-19 has put a strain on all of our schedules, budgets, and businesses in general. But that doesn’t mean that our company office meetings, events, gatherings and parties remain out of the question in 2021. In fact, we at the Elmore County Economic Development Authority believe it’s more essential than ever to stay connected with our coworkers!
Ahead, we’ll discuss virtual meeting best practices, from food and beverage ideas for longer and more in-depth events to team icebreakers that everyone can participate in no matter where they’re joining the virtual meetings from; as well as tips for keeping your employees, colleagues and partners engaged and noticed from the comfort of their own homes.
We know that we will one day all be able to safely meet in-person again. Until then, it’s our goal to help you and your team meet safely and productively however possible, so that work, collaboration and comradery among companies and colleagues may continue regardless of gathering restrictions.
Make Virtual Events Simple to Attend
If your team has been working remotely at all — which we assume they have, to at least some capacity — it’s likely you have already implemented some type of video streaming platform to connect for meetings and conferences (think Zoom or Microsoft Teams, for example). Keep the same momentum going in 2021 by planning to host your company’s virtual meetups consistently on the same or similar platforms. That way, your employees will be less likely to run into issues when trying to connect with the group from home.
If video conferences haven’t been a part of your team’s average work week, be sure to include a link to the video app you’ll be using for your initial virtual event. Inform your guests ahead of time if they will need to download an app or any software to support the virtual meeting and let them know the password to enter the gathering if you are using one. Suggest that they install and test the software prior to the meeting actually taking place. This will help avoid issues the day of the event and prevent anyone from getting locked out of the actual virtual event itself.
Treat Virtual Like You Would In-Person
If you normally would have catered an in-person office meeting (say a working lunch or a group training conference), consider treating your employees to a home-delivery of food and/or refreshments that they may enjoy while the virtual meeting takes place.
Many food service companies, restaurants, and catering businesses provide home-delivery options to keep business going throughout the pandemic. Consider scheduling a meal delivery, a giftbox of snacks and goodies, a cocktail making kit, or meal vouchers to employees before or on the day of the virtual event. You might also consider giving individual employees a budget so that they can order their own meal and have it delivered to their doorstep.
Keep the Team Engaged
It’s no secret – we’re all tired of staring at our computer screens. Break up the monotony of your virtual company meeting by injecting some “life” into the schedule. Remember how important your lunchtime walk was when you were commuting to the office? How the fresh air rejuvenated your mind? The same principles apply to remote work and virtual gatherings!
To break up the time in between things like education and training sessions during a virtual gathering (especially full-day programs), we suggest actually scheduling in breaks. You might take this time to encourage your team to step outside for some fresh air, to stretch, or to make a cup of coffee.
Limit the Length
When it comes to virtual events, there is such thing as overkill. Schedule your virtual event to last only 60-90 minutes and let your guests know when the virtual meeting both begins and ends. Social fatigue/burnout is real, and virtual events like the ones we’ve come to know and love over the past year can prove to be even more taxing on our wellbeing than in-person gatherings.
Even if the virtual event is really going well at the 90-minute mark, it’s best to end on a high note so that your employees and colleagues will be excited about any virtual office gatherings you plan for the future. Keep them short, sweet, and concise and be sure that your employees leave knowing how much you value them whether you are all able to gather in-person or through your computer screens.