Let’s face it – – a virtual happy hour doesn’t have the same ring to it as a lavish office party, or even an after work beer in the office. But with the right planning, trivia questions and drinking games, you’d be surprised at just how much fun you can have over Zoom!
Virtual happy hours are a great way to relieve some of the loneliness and strangeness of working from home, if they are done right! Done wrong, and they feel like one more work video chat, and have the opposite effect of team building.
Luckily, we’ve got some great tips on how you can throw an awesome event even while social distancing. From happy hour themes to playlist ideas, we’ll give you everything you need to let people loosen up and have some fun!
Make the most of tech tools
Nothing tanks virtual happy hours or remote meet-ups like technology fails. Make sure your team is set-up for success. Set-up a Zoom meeting ahead of time and send out the link to everyone.
If a tool like Zoom or other paid solutions are not available, you can use Google Hangouts, Skype or an app like House Party instead.
Make it inclusive and comfortable
Some people on your team may not drink alcohol, and it’s important to make sure they feel just as engaged as anyone who does. Reframing your event as a “Virtual Social Hour,” or even a “Game Night” could go a long way in accomplishing this!
We also recommend giving people the option to change, eat or otherwise take some time to unwind before going from work mode to socializing. Maybe people want to get fancy! Maybe they want to change into sweats. Either way, it’s nice to take some time to detach before getting together casually.
Have a theme
Invite your team to come up with a good theme for the happy hour. This could be something broad, like Animals or even a color. Or maybe it could be around a certain food or drink. You could even make the theme Game Night by having people play poker, board games or trivia.
We recommend you choose a theme that’s vague enough to let people get create a playlist, costume or activities without having to go too far out of their way. Coming up with a fun drink to go with with the happy hour theme of “Season 5 of Friends,” may be tough, for example.
Keep it manageable and small
Set the Happy Hour for a set time and keep it short (30 minutes is good, one hour is the max). Keep the crowd on the smaller size. Too many people in a virtual meeting can be overwhelming. Overcrowded video chats make it hard for everyone to participate.
If you want to include more people maybe try to mix it up with breakout rooms. Zoom, Google Hangouts and Skype all have features that make that easy.
Designate a host to keep conversation moving and try to keep it light. Make this a time for people to connect on a more personal level, and not talk shop for once! Team building outside of the context of work it incredibly important.
Choose games that aren’t too competitive (or do!)
There are some games that can lend themselves to a virtual happy hour. Games that are more open ended, like two truths and a lie or never have I ever can be low-pressure ways to get people involved. Icebreaker type games are always a good idea to get warmed up.
If you want to get bragging rights involved, things like Balderdash or an online Pub Trivia can be fun for teams that are looking to blow off some steam and go head to head. Pictionary is another fun one to do via zoom or skype call!
If you do decide to do a trivia game of some sort, one pro-tip is to choose teams randomly. Working together to solve trivia questions is one of the best time-tested team building activities to ever exist.
Get creative with drinking games that work over video chat
It’s a little difficult to play beer pong while on a video call. So what if you turned charades or Pictionary into a drinking game instead?
There are tons of fun ways you can turn non-drinking games into drinking games if you get creative about it: for example, imagine a game of 20-questions where guessing someone’s item in 15 or less guess resulted in a drink! Or a scavenger hunt (SFW, of course) on the internet where the last one to navigate from one Spike Lee’s Wikipedia page to Kevin Bacon’s takes a drink.
The important thing here is to keep games fun, and never make anyone participate or drink if they don’t want to. Drinking games where anyone can participate are actually the most fun.
Make the playlist interactive
Music is another way to spice up the happy hour. Share out a playlist on Spotify or a similar music service ahead of time, and ask people to submit songs that they can play out loud during the event. Get people to sync the playlist to the theme of the virtual happy hour, or make a trivia game out it by getting people to guess who added what!
Send Happy Hour Swag
Of course, we are biased here, but sending a little swag gift prior to your virtual event can be a great way to get your team excited and help crate more engagement. We have plenty of items that are perfect for a virtual happy hour.
If you want to see some examples of how the right glass, speaker or even entire virtual happy hour swag kit can take your even to the next level, check out our article all about it here!
Whatever you choose to send, Swag.com makes it easy to send your items directly to the attendees at home. No need to break social distancing!
Everyone’s work from home situations are different, so be conscious of people’s schedules and responsibilities. Some of your team members might have family obligations or child care to attend to, so something later in the evening might be difficult. Others may turn in early and prefer something on the earlier side. Whatever it is, let everyone know that this is an optional event and there should be no pressure to join if it is too difficult.
If you’re looking for a completely different alternative to a virtual happy hour, maybe you can organize a virtual book club, game night, or even Netflix party! Something that doesn’t involve food or drinks can sometimes be more inclusive. The important thing is to foster team building in a way that makes people not feel like they’re being forced to!
These tips can help make your virtual happy hour a success, but you should modify them to best fit your team. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and try different things. If it doesn’t work, try something different next time.
However, the most important thing you can do is make the virtual meet-up welcoming and a space for your remote team to bond outside of the usual work.