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How to Plan a Virtual Retreat Party That Your Team Will Love
When you hear the words “virtual retreat” for the first time, you might imagine something like a VR-equipped yoga gathering with zen-inducing music and guidance to calm your breathing.
A virtual retreat can indeed be that, but it can also mean a thousand other things.
Virtual retreats are corporate team-building activities organized on various virtual event platforms, Party.Space being one of them.
Why have we decided to write about them? Because virtual team retreats are clearly getting a lot of traction these days. With the overwhelming majority of employees choosing a hybrid mode of work and having zero intentions to return to the office, offline corporate parties are becoming a nostalgic memory for the party animals at your office (and a dreadful trip down memory lane for the introverts).
Let’s be clear — Zoom is not exactly a party space. This is primarily because Zoom fatigue is a real thing and is directly linked to overworking and professional burnout.
So, the question is: How do you prevent your virtual team retreat from becoming yet another online call?
Questions to ask yourself before organizing a virtual event for a large group
1. What goals are we trying to achieve with a virtual party website?
Is it “just for fun”? Perhaps you are celebrating something special — a big win, an investment round, your company’s anniversary? Do you plan to present some measurable results? Any big announcements to make?
2. How much time do you have for a party?
Start with the time zones issue. Are all of your employees in the same time zone? If not, how many time zones are we talking about?
Secondly, how much time do you have for the party itself? Is it a two-hour or a day-long event? Note that some virtual parties can actually be three days long! If you want the full stack experience of virtual retreat activities, of course.
3. Finally, how many people are coming?
Let’s not be overoptimistic, 100% attendance is not a real thing, even if you make the event mandatory or guarantee unlimited drinks on the house and a swag box full of surprises. A range from 60% to 90% is a more realistic expectation for online party platforms.
Once your answers to these questions are ready, we can move to the next step — choosing and planning for the virtual team retreat activities.
Step-by-step guide for virtual party makers
Step 1 — Choosing the virtual party website
Many different brands already offer virtual party platforms (and the list is growing!).
Factors to take into account when choosing the best fit for your organization/team include:
- The interface and UX are intuitive enough but not too basic (the site should be immediately straightforward while not looking like a plain chat room with nothing fancy inside)
- Building individual avatars for each participant is always a fun ice-breaking activity. Having those instead of regular photos is a far more engaging option to consider
- Just like an offline corporate party, a virtual party space shouldn’t be confined to a single room. Ideally, there should be several smaller rooms (or even private booths). These smaller party spaces may even have their own themes and activities for a limited number of participants.
- The most important thing — make sure you can try a demo or a free trial before settling on a solution for your full-scale party. Spending at least half an hour inside a virtual party room may actually give you some creative ideas on how to make your virtual events truly memorable.
Step 2 — Decide on the number of activities
As mentioned above, your ideal virtual party should be hosted in at least two connected virtual spaces. This would allow you to conduct various activities at the same time. Please, do not overdo it though. If you are planning a full-day event, having 5-7 different types of activities would totally be enough.
Keep in mind that engagement works very differently with extroverts and introverts. Keeping a reasonable balance between “loud” and “quiet” activities is key here.
Step 3 — Virtual event with a real buffet
If your virtual event is expected to last more than two hours — ordering food and drinks on the house is surely a must! Otherwise, again, your party might feel like yet another business call, nothing else.
The choice of food delivery options is truly enormous these days, from standard UberEats and other competitors to sophisticated private catering options. It all depends on your budget, of course.
Step 4 — Preparing the playlist
No matter how many speeches, presentations, and other activities you have on your agenda, music should get its fair share.
Soundtracks from the most popular movies usually work like a charm in such cases. But your choice shouldn’t be limited to soundtracks only. If you are not sure about your team’s tastes and preferences, just create a poll!
Another option is making a shared playlist in SoundCloud, YouTube Music, or Spotify.
I hope you remember another musical activity that will be relevant on the retreat – this is a virtual music bingo. The game rules for Virtual Music Bingo are the same as for a standard offline Bingo game, so you can easily play it with your teammates.
Step 5 — Bring photos and prepare memes!
There is no party without cool visual imagery.
If your virtual party is commemorating the company’s anniversary, having a photo retrospective is an absolute must!
Photo contests usually get a lot of engagement. Here are some ideas for photo contests: “My funniest high-school photo,” “Guess the colleague by the photo of their pet,” things like that. Make it personal.
Step 6 — Show appreciation
No matter the initial purpose of your virtual celebration, do not forget the most critical part — appreciating and praising people!
Awards should have several categories to make sure every team is covered. If in doubt about the right candidates — arrange an online poll during the virtual party itself! Most of the virtual party platforms have this feature by default.
If you are thinking of several expensive gifts (home appliances, packaged vacation tours, etc.), the fairest way to handle the whole thing would be through a prize raffle.
Step 7 — Arrange small gifts for everyone!
If you have several awards and prizes already planned, make sure all other participants of your virtual event do not leave the room empty-handed.
Depending on the scale of your event and the total number of participants (and obviously, your budget limitations), the range of gifts can be really wide.
The easiest way to handle corporate gifts is by having a swag box (water bottle, T-shirt, set of funny stickers, chocolate bar, etc.). However, these have already become so habitual, nobody sees swag as a pleasant surprise anymore.
The sky (and your budget) is the limit here. Uber Eats promo code? Spa day certificate? Annual subscription to Netflix or Audible? Make sure the memory of your virtual event lasts for at least a few months after.
Please, find more variants of unique corporate gifts for virtual celebrations here.
On a final note, here are two more purely organizational tips:
- Announce the virtual event at least two weeks in advance! People are working from home these days, but this does not mean they do not have personal lives. Do not reveal all the details of the fun activities inside your virtual party rooms, but make sure everyone understands, “This is not a workday but I need to be fully present online for X hours in total.”
- Collect feedback after the event. This might be your very first virtual party but most likely not the last one. From our professional experience, we would recommend asking people’s opinions about one week after the event.
And remember, those who party hard tend to work even harder (did we get that right?).
Published Feb 18, 2022
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