We’ve all been to (at least) a few virtual happy hours by now. As much as we’re itching to get a round of beers IRL with our team, winging this whole virtual culture thing isn’t going to help with your team’s connectedness in the long run. No hard feelings, I’m sure your happy hours are a blast! But if you’ve noticed more and more of your team skipping out on the weekly show and tell, and you’re feeling anxious on how to keep everyone engaged, you’re not the only one struggling. We’ve got a few pointers on how to get you and your coworkers looking forward to virtual culture building every single time.
Your team says: “Same old, same old”
You’ve spent all day on video calls with your team, 5PM rolls around and now you’re looking for new topics to chat about or jokes to crack. As much as you love your team, hopping on yet another call after a full day of interacting can feel like a chore when you're just wanting to unplug for the day. Culture building and happy hours should feel fun and refreshing! But often it feels like just another meeting on the calendar.
Solution: Build the excitement
The more the merrier! Have your team bring a friend, roommate or partner to your next happy hour to change things up a bit. This not only allows you to get to know the team on a more personal level, but helps a weekly event feel a little more special. Or consider bringing in someone outside of your team to host your next happy hour. Seeing a new face and even learning a new skill will give everyone something to look forward to. Little changes like these will help differentiate your happy hour from the typical team meeting.
Your team says: “It’s getting late…”
The kids have finished up remote school and are ready for dinner but you’ve got a required team bonding event until six. End-of-day events aren’t optimal for every member of your team. Planning events at inconvenient times for some of your team leaves them less than excited to attend and they may have other obligations on their mind while they are on the call.
Solution: Change things up
5PM isn't the only "happy" hour of the day! Changing up the time you get together with your team for culture building adds a level of surprise and gives you even more options to bond with your team. Morning culture events like a yoga break or a lunchtime cooking class are just a few examples of utilizing different times of the day to suit everyone's WFH schedules. Giving your team options will let them know that you get they have a life outside of work.
Your teams says: “Sooooo…”
We all know the rule of thumb that a meeting with an agenda is much more productive than one without. So keep that in mind when planning team events too! There's nothing worse than sitting on a video call where everyone's muted. Leaving it up to your team to find games and topics to discuss is not the most fun nor ideal way to bond.
Solution: Set expectations
When sending out your calendar invite for the next team happy hour, add a quick description or fun title to give your team a little more insight into what they can expect. This can ease some of the anxieties around team building activities and is an opportunity for you to build excitement for the upcoming event. Going into the call with a goal or outline in mind can help you stay on track and help you be just as productive culture-wise as you are during your daily sales meetings.
Your team says: “This just isn’t for me”
Whether your team is big or small, you’re guaranteed to have a variety of personalities in the group. Some might be the first speak up where as others like to sit back and watch. There are most certainly team events that are better suited for the extroverts in your group and others for introverts, so taking a “one size fits all” to your team’s happy hours might not be optimizing your time to build culture.
Solution: Communication is key
Take some time to talk with members of your team and understand how they feel about your current culture. Considering things like how long your team has been together, the personalities of the group, etc. will help you take some of the guesswork out of planning culture events. Assuming what the group will like or picking out an event that appeals to your own personal preferences (no judgement, we've been there too) will only take you so far. Sending out a quick survey to gauge how everyone feels about what practices you currently have in place is also a great way to better suit your teams needs.
Your team says: “Here we go again”
If planning happy hour looks like simply adding an optional invite to the calendar, it’s time to rethink your strategy… The weekly show and tell or fun fact gets old pretty fast which might leave your team inclined to RSVP “maybe” the next time around. Setting aside time for weekly culture building is a great place to start (high-five), but don’t stop there. Putting in just a littleeee more legwork will have a big payoff.
Solution: Phone a friend
We just so happen to know about a few (insanely amazing) virtual events for teams. If you are at a loss of what will connect your team or just don't have the bandwidth, we're here for ya! With a team of experts who can help you find just the right thing, there's no shame in asking for help (and we promise we'll let you take all the credit). Your team will be looking forward to happy hour every time.
Our team of experts (both in-house and partners) are able to work through all of these problems and more. Mystery doesn't just have to be for a quarterly kickoff or end of year party—hit us up and start working intentional culture building back into your routine. Schedule a call or shoot us a note to learn more about what we have to offer!