Remember how fun office parties were, particularly if a party was thrown in your honour or to commemorate a team member or manager’s work anniversary? Just because you’re now working in a virtual office does not mean you need to skip the tradition of celebrating a virtual work anniversary.
Remote work anniversaries are professional and personal milestones that mark one’s years in service and contribution to the organization’s goals. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge a person’s achievements and let them know how invaluable they’ve been to you.
I’ve written about moving the party online before, and this blog’s going to talk about a few remote work anniversary celebration ideas to make your next party awesome!
1. How to Celebrate Work Anniversary During Covid?
Here’s why work anniversaries are worth celebrating, whether you’re remote by choice or circumstances.
We’re human. We seek to be validated for our actions and performance, which is what celebrating work anniversaries are all about. It’s always nice to be on the receiving end of an appreciative gesture or word. What’s more, hosting a remote work anniversary party can also shine the spotlight on the contributions made by the person throughout their time in service and who all have benefited from their help and effort, whether it’s a fellow colleague or a client.
The first step to celebrating work anniversaries during COVID-19 is to have access to a record of the team’s data, such as the year they joined, the department they belong to and how long they’ve been around. Next, you’ll need to plan the scale of the party, i.e. are you keeping it small or going all out? Will it differ for a person who has completed a year versus someone who has been with your firm longer?
You’ll then need to decide on the budget for food and drinks and logistics to get them delivered to different addresses. You can either set a gift budget as well, or ask how much everyone is willing to chip in for one. There are also a few remote work anniversary ideas to try out that will strengthen the bond your workforce shares with one another. We’ll get into that in the next section
2. Virtual Work Anniversary Game Ideas
2.1 Surprise Party
Now that you know when the anniversary is, you can throw your colleague or manager a surprise party with the works! If you want to make sure they don’t suspect anything, tell them you’re planning a party for someone else and need their opinion on game and activity ideas. This way, you’ll know what they like to do and can seek out game facilitators and online websites accordingly!
Plan out the type and number of games and quizzes everyone will be playing. Appoint team members to form a decoration, food and beverages committee. They will be in charge of the snacks, theme, dress code and party decor everyone should hang up on their background to get into the festive spirit. Once everyone confirms they’re set, call the member up and have everyone shout a ‘Surprise!’ to them after they join in. It will be an experience they’ll never forget!
2.2 Ruling Passed
This is a work anniversary game any office can play but we feel virtual law offices in particular will enjoy it. In this, the person of the hour gets to be a pretend Judge to pass rulings for that hour. Everyone else has to comply.
2.3 Color theme
A color band signifies the year(s) of service of the remote work anniversary. Teambuilding has come up with a creative take on this where you have color schemes according to the year;
- Yellow for a year
- Red for 2 to 5 years
- Green for > 6 years
- Blue for > 10 years
You can either have everyone dress in the color of choice or send out mail with your company logo in those specific colors. If your business website has a corner dedicated to employees, you can also highlight their photo in the chosen color. Only teams will know what this would be for, so it’s like having an inside quirk! The good thing about this idea is that it’s a subtle way for team members to identify a coworker or manager by their seniority (refer to the color chart above!).
2.4 Virtual gift hamper
Who doesn’t enjoy a thoughtful hamper? Gift a hamper of essentials or fun to your colleague or manager in their honor. You can put the team in charge of individual gifts that should go into the hamper. For example, if you’re assembling a food basket, one person can order jams while another orders cheeses or chutneys. Or just have everyone browse the same site and add things to the basket before delivering it to the person’s home.
2.5 Appreciation Circle
Schedule a call with everyone without leaking out your agenda. Once everyone joins in, the circle is complete. Begin with announcing what this virtual meeting is for and have everyone take turns to say something appreciative and nice about the person whose remote work anniversary it is.
2.6 Year based Performance Bonus
You cannot go wrong awarding a raise to a deserving employee. A raise or promotion motivates high performing employees to keep up the good work and encourages them to stay for a company that recognizes them. By keeping them on, you’re avoiding the cost of replacing them. According to the responses from a Harris Interactive poll, the cost of a bad hire brought in to replace a good employee who left your firm comes out to be between $25,000 to $50,000. Wouldn’t you rather keep that within and credit it to someone on the team?
Put simply, you save long-term hiring costs by managing to keep your current high performers happy enough to remain. You can fix the bonus according to the years of service and historic performance. This way, there is impartiality in monetary benefits and no one can claim to receive less than what they deserve. Another option is to offer more work flexibility such as birthday or anniversary time offs, subsidized gym memberships or paid trips to retreats on an annual basis.
2.7 Sweet retreat
A sweet retreat is a great remote work anniversary idea for those members in your team with an unapologetically large sweet tooth! You can order them a cake and get onto a call with the team to watch the cutting. Better still, make the experience more communal with a batch of custom cupcakes that you can send from the bakery to the entire team. The cakes’ frosting color or piped message can indicate the number of years the anniversary is for (for color themes, refer to an earlier point!).
2.8 Roaring 20s
This is a remote work anniversary for people who have served two decades or longer with the firm (here’s looking at you, baby boomers!). Host a fun costume party with everyone dressing up in clothes, hairstyles and makeup from the 1920s. Play swing music and send a mixology kit over to the team to make their own 20’ themed cocktails, such as a Mint Julep.
Online company, TeamBuilding, offers a Cocktail Shakeup night which is priced according to the number of members participating. If you want to go all out, Chrystina Noel has blogged about ideas, tips and tricks for a ‘20’s party that promises a day of fun!
No matter if it’s a year, two or five years, a friendly game of darts is just the kind of team building activity for virtual workers. I found a few sites that help you throw darts, like Transum and Dartconnect. The only problem with Transum is that it’s a two-player game and is more fun if you know all the terms associated with the scoring system.
2.10 Virtual Tour
Send the group on an interactive virtual tour to help them escape the confines of their home. The San Diego Zoo offers online games for kids and a live cam of their animals for both adults and children. Families can also be part of the tours to places like the Louvre museum or Disney Land’s Pandora. Employees can either go on it with the team or avail it as an expense-paid option during the weekend when spending time with their loved ones.
2.11 Thank you Letter and cards
Say it with a letter, cards and a Kudo Wall! Write a heartfelt letter thanking the employee for their dedication to the company and highlight their achievements. You can have other members write their own messages in a group channel on Slack or Teams and host a call where everyone takes turns to mention what they liked the most about working with their colleague or manager till date.
2.12 On this day
This is a brief online activity that depends on the length of time coworkers and managers have known the person whose work anniversary it is, and their number of years of association. The team can compile a collage of photos from previous office parties or personal occasions and play it as a slide show while on a call. The guest of honor has a digital keepsake to revisit whenever they like!
2.13 Virtual Gift boxes
If you’re all working remotely in the same geography (location wise), shipping gifts to them to unwrap on the day shouldn’t be a problem. If it’s to a colleague in an international office, you’ll need to check on delivery charges for any gift being couriered.
If the budget’s tight, get them a voucher that they can redeem at their favorite E-Commerce stores. The good thing about this is that they can get something for themselves that they’ll truly get value out of and can avail it anytime within the offer’s validity period.
2.14 Raise a Toast
Grab a glass, fill it with your drink of choice and pay tribute to your manager or coworker with funny anecdotes or a favorite memory you have of them. Be sure to prepare everyone else to give brief speeches about their coworker before you schedule the call. You can also Emcee the event and play a little music at the end of each speech signifying the next one’s about to start.
3.1 How to celebrate work anniversary during quarantine?
If a member in the team is quarantined and has a virtual work anniversary coming up, be sure to inform everyone of the same and invite them to a call on the day. It gives them time to prepare a short speech or get involved in the planning of greeting them and taking part in any team building activity listed here or of your own choosing.
3.2 How do you celebrate a coworker’s birthday virtually?
First things first; find out when their birthday is (colleagues in the same or different departments may even share a birthday so it’s an opportunity for a group celebration!).
Once you have this information, get a feel of how your coworkers feel about birthdays. Some prefer this information not being publicized, while some love private greetings and others love being celebrated.
Each individual is unique. Move the celebration online by deciding on the party budget and scale. Sponsor the food and drinks or gift them redeemable coupons to their favorite grocery stores or restaurants to do their own cooking. You can then have a virtual sit down with the team through a virtual lunch or coffee social.