With the holidays being very different this year, it’s an essential time for building company culture. With everyone isolated working from home, your employees will appreciate your help in finding ways they can connect and bond virtually. 

As you plan your virtual holiday party and collect holiday gift ideas, consider spending more time with your employees throughout the holiday season to keep everyone connected despite the need to stay home because of the spiking coronavirus. Here are some ideas on how to improve company culture remotely:

1. Remote holiday party

Often, the annual holiday party is a chance for your entire company to come together–where employees who work in different departments and who don’t chat every day get to know each other better. Your virtual team party ideas should enable this relationship-building despite being remote. Use Zoom breakout rooms to help create more intimate moments so later down the line, if someone has a quick question, they feel comfortable reaching out to their coworker in another department. Without large dining tables, you can create a similar atmosphere using Expensed Meals, where everyone can order from their favorite restaurants and enjoy their meals from the comfort of their homes. Talking about their local restaurants and their food choices will be a great icebreaker as your employees get to know each other.

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2. Virtual book club

Books can help us improve our leadership skills, be more productive, and be better teammates. Build a company reading list and offer to cover the cost of books for anyone who chooses to join. This is a chance for employees to learn new skills, share their experiences, and get to know each other. 

3. Host coffee chats

Adam Morgan, the executive creative director at Adobe, wanted to find ways to spur creativity in his remote team. He noticed his brainstorming meetings weren’t as effective when remote, and thus designed “digital water cooler moments,” or meetings with no agenda, where people could casually chat. Morgan found these meetings were helpful: “We’d have people come in and say, ‘Hey did you hear about blink?’ or, ‘There’s this cool thing I saw on YouTube that you should check out,’ and it would trigger conversations that ultimately led to new thoughts or ideas. Marketers really need those kinds of super-valuable water-cooler moments.” Covering the cost of their coffee using Expensed Meals is a small price to pay for the new innovative ideas your employees come up with to help your business grow.

4. Game nights

There are a bunch of fun games employees can play together remotely. For example, Skribbl is a fun online drawing game where up to 12 employees can choose a series of words to draw using their mouse. Jackbox Games also has group games, such as trivia or having to come up with one-liners for a virtual “open mic,” where employees can vote on which joke they think is the most funny. 

5. Virtual Secret Santa

Assign employees their coworkers as a Secret Santa. They can mail their gifts and you can host a gift-opening ceremony over Zoom and give people the chance to guess who gave each gift. This virtual spin can bring teams together as they laugh at gag gifts and more.

Offering free food to employees is another great reward to consider throughout the holidays. According to a recent survey, 76% of employees say “eating and socializing with colleagues” is one of the most missed food-related benefits now that they’re working from home. Luckily whenever you’re planning events, with Expensed Meals, your employees can log into their DoorDash accounts and purchase meals–meeting your budgetary guidelines–that can be easily expensed to the company account. Adding food to these virtual events is another way to show your appreciation for your staff, cheer them up during this difficult time, and make this important time spent together more fun.

For other ideas to enhance your work from home HR strategy, check out our ebook, Building a Remote Work Culture: How to Help Your Employees Thrive, or contact us to learn more about food employee perks you can gift over the holidays. 

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Kristen Van Nest
Kristen Van Nest

Kristen Van Nest is an L.A.-based writer with bylines in Forbes, HuffPost, and VentureBeat to name a few. As a former Fulbright Scholar and Newsroom Columnist for the British Chamber of Commerce’s publication in China, she specializes in market trends and strategies businesses can use to grow. Her free time is spent ordering in dumplings and honeycomb ice cream and writing funny content to make people laugh.