What comes to mind when someone mentions Thanksgiving? Roast Turkey, savory sauces, pies, and an endless list of homemade delights spring to mind. For some, it's the last leaves of autumn and a quiet stroll as they sip on seasonal pumpkin spice coffee.
Thanksgiving is a magical time of the year when we get to feel gracious for the gifts that the hard year’s toil has brought forth. It’s mainly a family holiday, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be celebrated in the office.
After all, you probably spend more time in the office with your workmates, so they are like your family. Having a small Thanksgiving party can help bring everyone closer. At the least, such a party allows everyone to let their walls down and connect beyond business-critical communication.
Unfortunately, most thanksgiving office parties can alienate remote workers due to a variety of reasons. But, let’s not focus on those reasons as they are manifold and depend on the complexity of your enterprise.
Instead, let's keep things in high spirits as we explore - 6 Creative Ways to Include Your Remote Staff into This Year’s Thanksgiving Office Party!
Why Should You Include Remote Workers In Your Thanksgiving Party?
Thanksgiving festivities and customs are deeply enshrined in the United States' origin story. They also officially start the holiday season and welcome the glow of winter. However, most of your remote staff may go beyond your state borders. So these customs may not be that relevant to your remote crew.
But, should they also celebrate or just enjoy another day off? They should also join the party, and it shouldn’t stop there. Encouraging your remote crew to share their national holidays is a positive step towards inclusiveness and appreciation for cultural diversity.
Remote work initiatives are all about bridging cultural and geographic divides. Therefore, this holiday allows members from all corners of the globe to come together and celebrate the culture of gratitude that Thanksgiving marks.
Here are a few ways you can include your remote workers in this year's Thanksgiving celebrations:
1. Holding Virtual Meetings to Come Up With a Theme and Other Party Ideas
The true spirit of Thanksgiving is not just in feasting and drinking. It's all about taking stock of the things we take for granted and giving thanks for the blessings encountered over the year. And, this theme remains true since the Pilgrims broke bread with the Native Americans in 1621.
Office Thanksgiving parties aren’t as elaborate or intimate as those in a home setting. But, a little planning goes a long way. So, it makes sense to hold frequent meetings with your remote staff in the run-up to the big day.
A desk lamp can help you set an inviting mood during such virtual meetings. It is important that these virtual conferences feel informal to allow members to be their most creative selves. Loosen your ties, and let down your hair- and make the meeting as light-hearted as the holiday you’re planning for.
This measure creates an environment where staff can be open and forthcoming about the things your organization is thankful for. It also allows people to freely suggest ideas they think would make the party a hit-while incorporating cultural diversity.
These plenary sessions can get longer as the plans intensify closer to the big day. You will be grateful to have comfortable ergonomic office chairs as they take the edge off your back during those long meetings.
A multi-tasking desktop setup and screen sharing apps can also help you keep track of all the details.
2. Give Your Remote Staff Some Time Off
Spending some time with the family is a major hallmark of the holiday season. However, most employers only seem to worry about deadlines and other deliverables that contribute to the bottom line.
It may be advisable to formulate a timetable that ensures everything is done ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend. Saving some of the work for later can also work, provided you make clear timelines and prioritize what needs to be done early.
You can even make a provision to ensure your crew gets to do their Black Friday shopping. Your state-side team will appreciate being able to help around their homes. In contrast, the international arm of your remote staff gets some time to recharge and refocus their energy.
3. Virtual Potluck
As mentioned, sharing a meal is a major part of Thanksgiving traditions. But, it's not merely in the act of consuming food but sharing in the cooking process –That's what makes it a special day!
Roasting a turkey or baking a pumpkin pie and sending it around the world sounds impractical and expensive. But, your remote staff can still be part of the process. So, you can get off your desk, go to your kitchen and cook something for lunch. At this point, you can encourage your remote crew to do the same over a video call.
Your remote crew may not eat the same delicacies so, encourage them to cook whatever they prefer.
Other ways to inject some fun into your virtual culinary experience include:
Encouraging people to swap recipes and cooking tricks
Turning the experience into a cooking contest
Posting elaborate meal presentations on Instagram or other social media sites
Virtual wine tasting
Then you can all sit back and enjoy the meal as you have conversations and toast to another successful year. Sharing cultural experiences in such a way brings everyone closer than most of us think is possible.
4. Remote Challenges and Games
Watching a college football game over cold drinks is another part of the American Thanksgiving experience. But, that's not possible in a virtual setting. Plus, soccer, cricket, or even curling may be more relevant to members of your international or remote crew.
Online thanksgiving challenges and games can provide the right segue to these festivities. Thanksgiving-themed trivia can help test everyone's cultural and historical adequacy, as the rest get to learn the origin of the tradition.
To spice things up –Why not add prizes? It doesn't even have to be something huge, maybe some candy, donations to a charity of choice, or even a coupon. Anything fun that can include everyone will work, so keep the floor open for all the fun ideas that your remote crew has.
5. Go for Thanksgiving Themed Backgrounds
Changing a background theme is easy for remote staff regardless of their preferred video conferencing software. You can use this neat feature to inject a little fun with Thanksgiving-themed backgrounds.
Changing themes can also help people express their creativity and get into the holiday spirit. Aside from giving thanks, this day is also about inclusivity, creativity, and industry.
So you can encourage your remote staff to look for images ahead of the big day or even create some from scratch. Please ensure to remind your crew to update such settings before the virtual party.
6. Organize a Virtual Thanksgiving Donation Drive
Thanksgiving Day is incomplete without the “giving” part of the equation. The world has many unfortunate people that could use your help, and why not seize this opportunity.
Donating to a charity can qualify your organization for tax breaks and other financial incentives. But, helping the vulnerable in our society also gets you loads of good karma.
Here are some tips to help your remote staff make a difference this year:
Nominate a charitable cause that could use your help. It doesn’t even have to be based in the States. You could settle on one that's based in one of the countries where a member of your international staff resides. Or, nominate 2 or more.
Pool some funds together from staff donations and thanksgiving Challenges & games.
Vote on which charitable group or groups will get the donation. Finding a consensus on such an issue may take a while. So, encourage team members to make presentations on their candidates in the meeting leading to the big day. From there, you can vote from a shortlist.
Tips to Make Your Virtual Thanksgiving Office Party a Hit
A major problem with most office parties is they can feel forced and not flow organically with the event’s spirit. Thanksgiving festivities lose their meaning if they are to fall within a pro forma format.
The following tips can help you build excitement in the run-up to your virtual thanksgiving party:
Prepare Everything In Advance
Most companies prefer making special plans through ad hoc committees. Such a measure saves time as the bulk of your staff can remain focused on their core functions. However, it may be challenging to communicate all the details and include everyone’s ideas.
Start making Thanksgiving Day preparations early to ensure more of your remote staff feel excited about the day. You could even send questionnaires to employees. This step steers your company towards the type of festivities that get everyone teeming with excitement.
Start from the Top Level of Your Organisation
Managers play a significant role in company morale and employee engagement. However, only a mere 2.6% of managers worldwide maintain a high level of enjoyment towards company events and holidays.
In essence, your organization stands a better chance of getting your remote workers to participate or show each other appreciation if it starts at the top. So, encourage all team leaders and managers to support your virtual party initiative publically. This move will have everyone engage in the planning phase and lower the chances of people avoiding the event.
Cultivate a Corporate Culture of Appreciation throughout the Year
Continuity of an idea cements it to an audience better than reinforcing it for a few days. In short, encourage your employees to show gratitude to each other throughout the year. You could do this through:
1. Employee appreciation days
2. Giving employees gifts and other incentives on their work anniversaries
3. Team rewards for hitting certain targets
Why is such a measure important? Well, you'd be surprised how many people quit their jobs due to workplace dissatisfaction. Sure, a job could be merely a paycheck! But, look at it this way, most people go to school to learn more about their passion.
Then they get jobs that fulfill their passion. A lack of appreciation for such life-long dedication could lead to a higher turnover rate. Cultivating an appreciative culture in your corporate identity makes thanksgiving celebrations more sincere.
Explosions in computing hardware and digital networks have transformed our world into a global village. With that comes the need to share our cultures regardless of geographical differences. Thanksgiving Day offers an opportune time to show appreciation not only for your remote staff’s efforts. But also their diverse culture and views towards life.
Thanksgiving is majorly an American festivity, but as you can see from this article –it doesn't have to be. We hope these ideas can help you make it a momentous day. As always, we're looking forward to your comments and recommendations.
Have a productive start to the holiday season; see you in the next article.