The holidays are traditionally a time when work teams can kick back and have fun together in the build-up to their more family-focused festivities.
Of course, if many employees operate remotely rather than sharing the same office space, it’s not possible to celebrate with them in quite the same way.
Even so, you need to do what you can to make them feel valued during this period, so here are some ideas for including them in holiday activities that will make a difference.
Invite remote workers to parties on-site
The thing about remote working is that it doesn’t always mean that the team members in question are elsewhere in the world. They might live locally, but simply prefer the flexibility that working remotely affords them.
If that’s the case, don’t forget to give them the option to attend any in-person social events that are scheduled in the build-up to the holiday season. Sending out the invites and perhaps laying on perks like travel and accommodation for those who are a little further afield will make a difference.
Splash out for experiences elsewhere
If there’s a social budget for your on-site team, don’t leave remote workers out in the cold if they can’t also make the trip to join in with the festivities.
Instead, provide them with equivalent opportunities where they’re based, giving them a taste of holiday cheer that doesn’t inconvenience them.
For example, if your team is going to have dinner and drinks together after working all day at the office, give remote workers the means to do the same with their family and friends, and cover some or all of the cost.
Set up a virtual party
Virtual events are still hugely popular, and as an extra treat at this time of year, you should plan a virtual party that takes place during office hours, rather than requiring team members to eat into their personal time to attend.
By this point, you should have a decent handle on how to run virtual social gatherings for team members, but if you’re stuck for inspiration, there are plenty of games and activities which work well in this context.
Give gifts that are convenient and meaningful
Gift cards are a great form of employee recognition, and since you can attach them to free eCards and even virtual Christmas cards, they can become a brilliant holiday treat for hard-working remote employees as well.
Just make sure to think about what type of gift card would be most appreciated by each team member. Look into their lifestyles and preferences, rather than going the generic route, to get the best payoff in terms of satisfaction and retention.
Organize seasonally appropriate competitions
If you’ve got team targets to hit and you want to reward employees for their hard work, why not integrate this as part of a festive contest with prizes that are associated with the season, and which can be shipped out to remote workers as well?
For instance, in sales teams, you could gift top performers in a given window with a free set of holiday decorations to prettify their workspace.
Arrange a Secret Santa
The rise of Secret Santa gift-giving schemes has taken over offices in recent years, and they work just as well when remote employees are factored in.
All sorts of affordable yet appealing gifts work for the purposes of Secret Santa, and it takes the pressure off individuals because of course the giving is done entirely anonymously.
Just make sure to get this in motion well in advance, as delivery delays might scupper your chances as December 25th draws near.
Make festive clothing a priority
The season of good cheer is much more engaging if employees are able to let loose and mix up their wardrobe, whether that’s with novelty jumpers, tinsel hair ties, or anything else for that matter.
You can formalize this to bring remote team members on board with the fun by setting aside a day when dressing up is on the agenda.
Be clear that they don’t need to buy an entirely new outfit, or even wear anything that’s holiday-specific. Getting out of the usual work wear and into clothing that makes them comfortable will lighten the mood.
Ask remote team members what they’d like out of the experience
Last but not least, you need to listen to what your remote employees have to say about how you handle holiday celebrations.
They’ll tell you what’s missing from the festivities, and if there are any aspects of what you’ve got planned which exclude them or make them feel ostracized in any way.
It’s only through openness like this that you’ll be able to host the most inclusive and entertaining holiday season at your workplace.