It is now more important than ever for your team to stay connected as the majority of the workforce is remote. Maintaining your team’s chemistry while they are miles apart, practicing social distancing, is very important.  At UDig, we are looking for new ways to connect our workforce through the power of the internet.  Last week we hosted our first virtual happy hour and it was a huge success.  We are now making virtual happy hours part of our normal schedule.  Strap in, and get ready, as we tell you how we hosted our first virtual happy hour and give tips and tricks on how you too can host your own.

Find an Activity for your Team

Finding an activity is the hardest part of hosting a virtual happy hour.  It would be pretty awkward to have everyone join a chat room and just stare at each other.  You have to find an activity that you and your team will enjoy participating in over the web.  Here are some ideas that may work for your team.

Wikiracing

For our first virtual happy hour, we hosted a Wikirace game using Zoom.  The rules for Wikiracing are relatively simple.  Everyone starts from a random Wikipedia page and tries to reach a destination Wikipedia page by only clicking links inside of Wikipedia articles.  We used The Wiki Game to help manage our game.  Our group played multiple rounds of Wikiracing so people were able to drop in and leave whenever they wanted. I am happy to say most stayed well after the initial hour we intended to play.

Virtual Movie Night

Another great activity for a team to participate in is a virtual movie night.  Through my research, I was able to find a tool named Kast that is designed for streaming video games or hosting virtual watch sessions.  I have not used this tool yet, but I likely will in the near future.  It comes built-in with video and chat features to allow your team to interact during the film.  You can use Slack or Zoom as well if you are more comfortable using an existing tool you have.

Video Games

If your team is really big into video games, then getting everyone together to go on an adventure online is a great way to bond remotely.  As an added benefit, your team will likely work on their communication skills while hanging out and doing something fun.  If you are looking for a couple of recommendations on a few games you can play here are my favorites.  Minecraft, Fortnite, Rocket League and Diablo 3 all make great co-op games that can be played with many people.  Make sure you connect using Discord or some other voice chat while you play!

Pick a Time and Stick to it

Host the virtual happy hour at the same time each week so that everyone can get into a schedule and attend regularly.  You will want to pick a time after everyone is done working for the day.  I chose 7:00 PM because I thought it would give everyone enough time to finish working and have a bite to eat.  I would not recommend picking Friday as your virtual happy hour.  The majority of people are rushing off to distance themselves from everything work-related after 5:00 PM on a Friday.

It is very important to pick a time and stick to it so your team knows when to keep coming back.  If you can’t host a virtual happy hour yourself then ask a trusted team member to play host if you need to be away for that week.

Have a Host / Communication Facilitator

I played the role of host during our first virtual happy hour.  I was focused on making sure everyone was having a good time.  The host generally doesn’t participate in the activity but instead facilitates the activity and the communication of everyone participating in the activity.  As you can imagine, connecting even a small group of coworkers together comes with its own technical challenges.  It’s a good idea to have someone ready to help walk your friends through those issues.  In addition, you want someone to help fill in the gaps of silence and get people talking while they participate in the activity.

Being a host is a lot of fun!  I had an amazing time being the host and joining into the Wikirace banter.  You get a chance to talk to people that you normally don’t get to on a daily basis.  I did underestimate the technical issues. I will be spending more time explaining how to get connected for the next virtual happy hour.

Have Fun with it

Many people joining our Zoom call had fun playing with the virtual background feature.  This was a very organic and surprisingly fun part of our first happy hour and I can’t wait to see what other fun things get brought to the table for the next one!

Do you have any cool ideas for a virtual happy hour activity?  Have you already hosted your own virtual happy hour?  Let us know!

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