Remote work flexibility is fast becoming the norm. According to Buffer’s annual ‘State of Remote Work 2019 Report,‘ 99% of respondents ‘said they would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers.’
This is a staggering number! But really, in this day and age, it should come as no surprise. More and more employees value work flexibility and work/life balance over other employee benefit schemes.
After all, there are a lot of benefits to working from home. You needn’t entertain annoying and time-consuming gossip while you wait for your coffee to brew (hello productivity!) Lunch may involve gourmet spreads made from the comfort of your own kitchen. You can set up an office environment conducive to your own tastes rather than being tortured by fluorescent lighting bouncing off your nana’s beige cardigan colored cubicle walls. If it’s a lovely day outside, you can even opt to sit out on the patio with your laptop and listen to the birds chirping.
Working from home, however, can also easily be over-glamorized. While all the above can be true, sometimes it can be a real push to get out of your pajamas and even brush your teeth. It can also be a very isolating life where you’re starved of human connection if you’re not careful to intentionally seek it out. Am I painting a delightful picture of a gross, unwashed, anti-social and sun-deprived hermit?
Let’s not forget to mention the intense practice in self-discipline which many humans seem incapable of. Oh, and the assumption from everyone in your social circle that you don’t actually have a ‘real’ job and you’re just a full-time Netflix binge-watching moocher living off the smell of an oily rag.
The social perks of an in-person work environment are not something to be shunned! Some days I feel I’d trade in my isolation just to hear Susan complain about the photocopy machine for the umpteenth time. Some. Rare. Days.
If you’re a freelancer, entrepreneur, remote employee, or your company or agency has multiple office locations dotted around the country or world, you’ll understand that a remote workforce poses many challenges. And probably the most important challenge of them all, what on earth do you do for your annual Christmas party?!
Nobody really wants to miss out on the traditional work Christmas party even if they pretend to be a Grinch and vocally express their indignation towards it. It’s a chance to take time out of work to unwind, relax, celebrate the year, mingle and get to know your fellow work colleagues that little bit more. And of course, dress up in tacky Christmas paraphernalia.
For most remote teams, flying employees to a remote island getaway for a lavish, all-inclusive Christmas Party week is out of the question. While you can keep dreaming by having your carry-on bag packed and ready to go under the desk, we may just have to be a little more realistic and lower our expectations.
As a self-appointed social organizer for my remote working colleagues, I was lacking ideas this year to come up with anything special. So, what does one do? You ask around to find out how other virtual and remote teams are celebrating their Christmas party this year, of course.
11 Remote Christmas Party Ideas
1) Angelina Ebeling, Founder & CEO at acework.io
“We will throw a virtual Christmas party with our team. Since we are distributed across many time zones, the best way to include everyone is to make it a “Coffee and Cookie” get together. The typical alcohol-infused holiday party just isn’t practical when it’s 10 am for someone.
I sent cookies to everyone – home-baked ones to the team in Europe, and mail-ordered from Milk Bar for our US colleague. In the past, I’ve sent birthday gifts, which really goes a long way when you are working on a fully distributed team. Even if it’s just flowers or a cake, it makes the relationship with a global team feel more personal. Since we are a multi-national team with different cultural and religious backgrounds, the focus doesn’t lie too much on Christmas, rather on an end-of-year celebration.”
2) William Taylor, CareerDevelopment Manager at MintResume
“We have a number of remote employees (part-time and freelancers) and we celebrate Christmas and other events together over the internet. We exchange recipes, virtual gifts, send out bonuses, play games like photo guessing, etc.”
3) Simon Hansen, Founder & Blogger at Best Sports Lounge
“As a digital entrepreneur, I rely heavily on a team of assistants, writers, and video editors that help create quality content. To make them feel motivated and express my gratitude for working well, I make sure to conduct a group call where we wish each other well and share messages with each other. This might be simple and small, but it’s the most sincere way to express your gratitude.”
4) Pratibha Vuppuluri, Chief Blogger at She Started It
“It’s really hard to come up with one given the time difference within the team. However, what we agreed on doing is sharing our Christmas playlist and then compiling it to one file, which is available for everyone to listen to. We particularly encourage everyone to look into the list and make use of it as they do work. Sending/exchanging Holiday GIFs (as creative as possible) over Slack is also encouraged on a specific date. “
5) Chima Mmeje, CEO at Zenith Copy
“We broke down the Christmas party into regions, since everyone around the country couldn’t gather at the same spot. My boss would send money for everyone to travel to the city center closest to them and throw a big party at a venue we all agreed on. A senior-level staff was appointed to organize the party for each region. During the Christmas party, we would live stream each region, so everyone could see what was going on and feel like they belonged, even though they weren’t physically present. “
6) Allison Hott, Content Marketer at OptinMonster
“Our company is entirely remote with employees located all over the world. Because not everyone celebrates the same holidays, we don’t have a company-wide virtual Christmas party. Instead, for those who celebrate Christmas they can take part in our Christmas card exchange. We have an internal company map that lists the addresses of our employees so that those who want to exchange Christmas cards can easily do so.”
7) Raj Vardhman, Co-founder at goremotely.net
“Secret Santa is my all-time favorite Christmas celebration idea both for remote and in-house teams. Everyone is assigned one person to buy a present for, and every team member can pick something from Amazon or eBay to send to another colleague. An important thing to note is that you should determine a budget with a team, so everyone gets an “equal” amount of love.”
8) Chuck Chapman, Content Strategy Coordinator at Kevin Eikenberry Group
“We will be celebrating with our remote team members (4) on their webcams, and with a webcam on the table for the rest of us located here in Indiana (8). Homemade cookies are being sent to the remote team members, and we will all be eating together (including the cookies!). We also have planned activities to create a sense of fun and togetherness. ”
9) Sharon Koifman, President of Distantjob
“Like in most remote teams, we are people working from different parts of the world and have different cultures. We respect each other religion and beliefs and we try to have a great time together whenever we have a chance. So before the Christmas Holiday, all members of our team are gathering online to play Cards Against Humanity. It’s a fun game that helps us connect and have a great time. This should be a must in each remote company.”
10) Andrew Ehlert & Susan Harris from Rooted Mama Health
“With 12 total employees, we have 8 employees that work remotely in different parts of the world. which made it difficult to plan a traditional Christmas party. So we decided we would have a virtual Christmas party. We decided to have a secret Santa gift exchange while on video chat with each other. This required some planning in order to execute. We made an announcement to the team that we would do a secret Santa gift exchange at the end of November so each team member had enough time to purchase a gift for their assigned recipient as well as ship the package to them. But nobody was allowed to open the package until we were all on a video chat together.
When the time came for the gift exchange we had everyone log online to our video chat and we went around in a circle to open gifts in front of everyone! We absolutely loved that we were able to exchange gifts while being remote. Our team loved the chance to have a traditional holiday party even though we are a mostly remote team. We also decided to give our employees the week of Christmas off with the rule that they must report back after Christmas with one fun thing they did over their break.”
11) Yours truly, Emily Uebergang, SEO Strategist at Digital Darts
“As our digital team has grown, it so happens no one team member works from the same city. We’ve had to bypass the previous year’s idea of meeting up for a banquet in-person meal and Escape Room. While I had grand plans to create a scavenger hunt we could all participate in from our own home cities and share photos and experiences from, I suddenly realized I was in and over my head (leaving it way too late to organize). So this year instead we’re keeping it simple. We’ve opted for a live online chat where we’ll share some stories from the year that’s been, cheers over a drink of choice, and share what we’re looking forward to in the New Year. Work chat will be banned. We’re also holding out for our special bonus gifts in the mail from the boss. He doesn’t know this yet, but when he reads this he will.”