This article was last updated on August 22, 2023
Remote work, telecommuting, and freelance projects have become the new reality for more organizations as many employees now live far away from their office location. This shift to hybrid work presents a challenge to organizations wanting to keep employees engaged even when they are not commuting to work every day.
Entering virtual events. This article outlines ten virtual event ideas to boost employee engagement for online socials and how to make the most of employees’ time.
What Is A Virtual Event?
A virtual event, or an online social, is a fun digital meeting typically held over video platforms like Google Meet, Zoom, and Webex. They can be webinars or audio sessions where participants converse in real-time through live chat or audio. While some online gatherings last just one session, others feature several days’ worth of programming and online interaction.
Virtual social event ideas are increasingly important because organizations can use them to keep employees motivated and engaged. These gatherings can also foster relationships and awareness among participants, enhancing collaboration and workplace dynamics.
Fun Virtual Event Ideas For Employees
1. Virtual Guess Who
A classic game like Guess Who can engage even the most introverted team members. This relatively low-production event is an excellent way for teammates to get to know one another better.
- Step 1: Ask your team to send in a photo of their family members, pets, or favorite pastime before your meeting.
- Step 2: Using presentation software like PowerPoint or Prezi, create a slide deck containing the photographs and hints as to who each picture belongs to.
- Step 3: On the day of the event, invite team members to identify the photo’s owner.
Pro tip: Employees can use fun facts about themselves as hints for the photos, adding more opportunities for people to get to know each other.
2. Online Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts let team members who are otherwise dispersed around the globe come together to solve problems, making them the ideal real-time team-building event for larger groups.
- Step 1: Divide your employees into groups. Groups can either be comprised of employees from different departments to foster new relationships or from the same teams to strengthen existing camaraderie.
- Step 2: Decide on a host who will keep scores, respond to queries, and guide the online scavenger hunt.
- Step 3: Issue challenges and how long participants have to finish them. Tasks can be performed online or offline. For instance, participants can be asked to take a selfie with their pets, bake a homemade cake, or grab something from around the house. If participants would like to skip a particular task or are unable to complete it, they can mark an “X” and move on to the next one.
- Step 4: Tally up the points! Teams with employees who complete all the challenges the fastest or in the most inventive way win.
Pro tip: Try adding quizzes and photo-taking assignments to the mix to encourage participation.
3. Online Award Ceremony
Throwing an award ceremony or party is an excellent way for organizations to show how much they appreciate and care about their team members. Studies have shown that when employees feel respected and appreciated by their managers or colleagues, they are more resilient and satisfied with their jobs.
- Step 1: Determine or poll your team to develop award categories and encourage everyone to put forward coworkers for nominations. Involving your team to the best of your abilities will increase engagement with the final event.
- Step 2: Encourage nominees to prepare emotional acceptance speeches before the ceremony. This makes the event more realistic and facilitates a chance to internalize their hard work and the support they get from colleagues around them.
- Step 3: Prepare special rewards for award-winners, such as trophies or gift cards.
Pro tip: Incorporate fun themes such as “Hollywood Night” or “The Office” and encourage employees to dress up.
4. Virtual Garden Party
For many people, working remotely involves a routine of moving back and forth from bed to desk and back. Compared to office workers, who often spend at least a few minutes outside during the commute, remote workers typically spend less time outdoors. Given that everyone can benefit from time in nature, the lack of commute time can mean some people don’t get fresh air for days at a time, missing out on its health-enhancing effects. Virtual garden events can remind staff members how fun it is to play in the dirt while encouraging them to bond with nature and their coworkers.
For a virtual garden party, encourage employees to go outside and stream the meeting from the lovely outdoor environment, whether in their backyard, front porch, or even a small balcony. Some fun activity ideas to incorporate into the event are:
- Decorating the garden
- Arranging flowers with an instructor
- Hosting backyard tours
- Creating cocktails using fresh flowers and herbs from the garden
- Organizing a contest for the coolest sunglasses
5. Virtual Trivia
Trivia questions, while trivial by definition, actually improve brain health! Hosting virtual trivia is a fun and affordable way to engage employees while letting them share their interests outside of work.
- Step 1: Divide team members into two or more groups
- Step 2: Choose a host
- Step 3: The host can generate the questions using a random trivia generator and tally the results.
Pro tip: The trivia game could have several themes, including sports, pop culture, leadership, and business-related. To encourage employees to participate, provide prizes like an Amazon or Starbucks gift card. Employees can also nominate themes or topics they are interested in to show off their trivia knowledge.
6. Virtual Happy Hour
For many people, after-work happy hours are where camaraderie is built—interactions flow more easily when people are relaxed. This can be hard to do when team members are thousands of miles apart. With virtual happy hours, team members can still hang out and share a few drinks in the comfort of their homes. It also promotes connection and a sense of community, which can help people who work from home feel less lonely.
- Step 1: Select the date and time, and send out virtual invitations
- Step 2: This is optional, but teams can pick a theme, such as “Craft Beer & Crafts,” to make the event more memorable.
- Step 3: Providing a stipend or providing drinks and planning discussion topics and events will help make the event more fun, requiring less planning on the employees’ end.
Coworkers have been going out for drinks after work for generations. By organizing and participating in virtual happy hours, remote employees can carry on the custom with a modern edge.
Pro tip: Give virtual happy hour an upgrade by hosting a cocktail-making session, with all the ingredients sent to participants’ homes.
7. Virtual Charades
Charades has been a favorite household game for generations. It is fun and light-hearted but still promotes some friendly competition. Playing charades online is possible with Zoom’s spotlight capability.
- Step 1: Divide the group into teams. The larger the number of groups, the longer the idle wait time for each group.
- Step 2: Create your own themes and ideas, or use a charades idea generator to choose a theme or phrase.
- Step 3: The chosen word or phrase is messaged privately to the selected player. Teams can agree on a time limit (usually 1 minute). Award points for correct guesses.
Pro tip: Tired of the official rules? Go with some popular variations, such as using only sounds, no expressions, or reverse charades where one person guesses and the whole team acts it out.
8. Virtual Escape Room
A virtual escape room experience is not only exciting, but it also promotes collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
- Step 1: Select a virtual escape room platform that offers a variety of themed rooms with captivating storylines.
- Step 2: Divide employees into teams.
- Step 3: Brief the teams about the scenario and objective of the chosen escape room.
- Step 4: Teams will need to work together to solve a series of puzzles, riddles, and challenges to progress through the escape room. These puzzles can be logic-based, word-based, or require creative problem-solving.
Pro tip: Incorporate a debrief session where teams discuss their thought processes, how they tackled challenges, and the strategies they employed. This enhances problem-solving skills and encourages knowledge sharing.
9. Virtual Code Names
Code Names is a game involving strategy and deduction. It fosters communication skills and critical thinking while sparking friendly competition.
- Step 1: Choose an online platform for playing Code Names.
- Step 2: Divide the team into pairs or small groups.
- Step 3: The game involves providing one-word clues to guide teammates toward specific words on a grid while avoiding clues that could lead them to the opposing team’s words.
- Step 4: Designate one member from each team as the Spymaster. The Spymaster gives one-word clues and a number indicating how many words relate to the clue. The team must guess the correct words without accidentally selecting the opposing team’s words.
- Step 5: Teams take turns deciphering the Spymaster’s clues and making guesses. They aim to uncover words corresponding to their team’s color while avoiding those of the opponent.
- Step 6: The first team to identify all their words wins the round. Celebrate their victory and swap roles for the next round.
10. Virtual Painting Class
Ignite the team’s creativity through a virtual painting class. This engaging event nurtures self-expression and offers a refreshing break from routine.
- Step 1: Select a virtual painting instructor who can guide the team through the artistic process.
- Step 2: Send art supplies to each participant. Include canvases, brushes, paints, and any other necessary materials.
- Step 3: The instructor will lead the team step-by-step through the creation of a chosen painting. Participants follow along, experimenting with colors and techniques while making the artwork uniquely their own.
Pro tip: Organize a “gallery walk” where participants display their final paintings on their screens.
11. Virtual Book Club
Stimulate intellectual discussions and create a shared reading experience with a virtual book club. This encourages personal growth and offers a platform for thoughtful conversations.
- Step 1: Choose a book that aligns with the team’s interests and has the potential for engaging discussions. Ensure it’s accessible in various formats.
- Step 2: Establish a reading schedule, giving participants ample time to read the selected book. This allows everyone to contribute to the discussion.
- Step 3: Host virtual book club meetings to discuss the reading. Encourage participants to share their insights, opinions, and favorite quotes.
Pro tip: Rotate the book selection responsibility among team members to ensure a diverse range of reading materials and keep the book club fresh and engaging.
12. Virtual Cooking Class
A cooking class is a fun way to learn new skills as a team, work together to curate a delicious meal and bond over culinary delights.
- Step 1: Select a recipe that’s accessible and suits a variety of dietary preferences.
- Step 2: Send out the recipe and a list of ingredients well in advance. This gives participants time to gather what they need for the cooking class.
- Step 3: During the virtual class, the instructor guides participants through the recipe step-by-step. Participants cook alongside the instructor in real-time.
13. DIY Home Office Makeover
Elevate the remote work experience by organizing a home office makeover event. This activity promotes productivity and wellness by helping employees create a comfortable and inspiring workspace.
- Step 1: Allocate a budget for employees to use for purchasing office supplies, decor, or organization solutions to enhance their workspaces.
- Step 2: Host a follow-up virtual meeting where participants reveal their revamped home offices. Share before-and-after photos and discuss how the changes have positively impacted their work environment.
14. Virtual Movie Night
Bring the joy of cinema to your remote team with a virtual movie night. Send out a survey to determine a film that aligns with the team’s interests. Encourage everyone to grab some popcorn, sit back, and relax as they enjoy a shared movie-watching experience.
15. Virtual Dialogue Space
A “Dialogue Space” provides an optional, non-judgmental environment where team members can engage in open conversations about sensitive and often overlooked subjects like mental health, personal identity, and other “taboo” topics. There’s no rigid format to adhere to—the point is to create an authentic platform where participants can share, listen, and connect, fostering deeper bonds and trust among team members.
16. Virtual Charity Challenge
Combine team-building with philanthropy by organizing a virtual charity challenge. This event not only strengthens team bonds but also makes a positive impact on a chosen cause.
- Step 1: Choose a charitable cause that resonates with the team’s values. This could be a local charity, a global initiative, or a cause related to a current social issue.
- Step 2: Set a fundraising goal for the team.
- Step 3: Organize virtual fundraising activities like online auctions and virtual donation drives.
- Step 4: Use your company’s communication channels to share information about the chosen cause, the impact of donations, and the progress toward the fundraising goal. Encourage team members to post about it on their personal social media accounts.
- Step 5: Host a virtual celebration to announce the amount raised and express gratitude to participants. Invite a representative from the charity to share their perspective and the difference the donations will make.
Pro tip: Consider offering incentives for reaching fundraising milestones, such as extra paid time off, team rewards, or matching donations from the company.
17. Virtual Pet Party
Pet owners will love this activity that puts the focus on their furry friends. Set up a virtual meeting that serves as a showcase for participants to proudly introduce their pets. This heartwarming event not only offers a chance for team members to share anecdotes and stories about their four-legged family members but also creates a sense of connection as everyone bonds over their shared affection for animals.
18. Virtual Yoga Sessions
Morning yoga sessions are a great way to help people be active and get the right start to their day. To make it all-level friendly, go with a slower flow, stretch, and incorporate meditation. A special variety of yoga called “Restorative Yoga” can provide a chance for active relaxation, which strengthens the parasympathetic nervous system, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and stimulating the immune system to reduce the effects of stress-related diseases.
19. Virtual Coffee Breaks
In the office, many people find coffee breaks a valuable time to catch up with coworkers or discuss quick work questions. Many organizations see the importance of facilitating these organic interactions even in the virtual setting, creating a “space” where employees can still come and be around their colleagues without having to set up a formal meeting or conference call.
- Step 1: Choose a time block that coincides with when people usually grab a cup of coffee (e.g., first thing in the morning, around 11 AM, or early afternoon).
- Step 2: Create a virtual meeting room and share the link with everyone on the team. Make it easily accessible, either through a recurring meeting invite or pinned in a group chat channel/bulletin board.
Pro tip: Organizations looking to introduce more perks to their employees can send high-quality coffee blends to employees’ homes or provide gift cards to coffee shops. Coffee-making sessions with instructions on how to make special coffee from around the world, such as Vietnamese drip coffee, are also a great way to engage employees and provide a quick break from work routines.
20. Private Social Media Groups
Online socials are not limited to video calls; try creating channels on work communication tools such as Teams or Slack where employees are encouraged to share more about their personal life and foster friendships among coworkers.
For instance, teams can initiate a “Throwback Thursday” challenge where employees can share their old photos. Alternatively, they can post pictures of famous groups, such as Disney characters or famous bands, then ask group members to tag each character with a teammate. Team members can also share their delicious meals, whether they are home-cooked or takeout.
Additional Tips To Engage Employees
It isn’t easy to comprehend the art of employee engagement since every workplace is unique. Even while virtual events are effective at engaging team members, there are still additional strategies needed, such as:
- Training and coaching employees: This is a great way to foster a culture of continuous learning that goes beyond simply assisting employees in developing the skills required to perform their jobs. It also conveys that companies value their personnel and believe in their abilities.
- Provide the right tools: A good working environment significantly impacts job satisfaction. This includes having an ergonomic workspace, the right technology to get the job done, and comprehensive guidelines and procedures to eliminate confusion.
- Guide employees to develop career paths: Providing employees with opportunities to advance and transition positions within the organization is a crucial strategy for maintaining engagement and motivation. An inside promotion will encourage team members to take on unique demands within their function and keep engaged with their work, much like helping employees expand their career pathways will.
- Promote a fun and healthy working environment: Working toward goals is difficult, so keeping your workers motivated with fun and healthy competition is essential. Studies suggest that 90% of people find working in a fun setting highly or incredibly motivating. Make sure to incorporate different ways employees can enjoy fun, and remember each person has their preferences.
- Recognize and reward employees: The secret to establishing successful employee engagement is rewarding employees for excellent work. Giving them incentives like gift cards and cash awards is a great motivator. Hold regular meetings and thank your staff for their efforts.
Done right, virtual events allow organizations to engage employees in meaningful ways. They should not completely replace in-person interaction but can add value and still promote employee engagement at a fraction of the cost. To realize the full benefit of these online socials, organizations will need to move beyond one-off events and develop a comprehensive strategy. The bottom line? Sending out a Zoom link and hoping for the best is not enough.
After each event, contact them for feedback on the experience or send out a survey to learn what may be done better next time.