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| Written by Veronica Ferguson

How to Plan an Employee Event for a Remote Workforce

You already know the benefits of hosting corporate events for your employees, but for companies with a remote workforce, gathering together in person may not be an option. So… host a virtual employee event instead! The quality of virtual events has increased tenfold since the start of the pandemic, as has the variety of engaging virtual activities available.

Gone are the days of long, boring meetings with one speaker droning on and attendees muted and off-camera. Now, it’s possible to recreate the energy of a company retreat or holiday party. As another bonus, virtual events usually takes less time to plan and produce compared to in-person events. (Read: It’s not too late to plan a virtual summer soiree for your team!)

Planning a successful corporate event for a remote workforce comes down to three key factors: the digital platform, the virtual activity or entertainment, and the gifts.

Choosing Your Digital Platform

One of the biggest influences on the success of a virtual event is the choice of digital platform. This comes down to three main considerations:

  1. Target audience – The target audience is not just about the number of attendees but also how tech savvy they are. If your digital platform is too challenging to use, attendees will have a negative experience no matter how engaging and entertaining your content is.
  2. Interactivity – The level of interactivity between attendees is the most important factor when choosing a digital platform. Questions to ask include: Should attendees be able to see and hear each other? Are the chat and Q&A functions important? Do you want attendees to move between virtual breakout rooms?
  3. Budget – Budget impacts every aspect of an event, even those held virtually. The cost of a digital platform is influenced not only by the number of attendees and level of interactivity but also by additional features like customization capabilities and analytics offered.

If you’re not sure where to begin, M&IW’s digital producers can help you identify your needs and explore the various options and costs. Some of your decisions may depend on other aspects of your event, especially the entertainment.

Hybrid Events Technology Setup and Recording

Choosing Your Virtual Activity

Unlike some corporate events, company picnics and other employee-centric events are meant to be fun! This remains true even when the event is virtual. Employees don’t want to feel like they’re attending another business meeting, so keep them entertained and engaged with a virtual activity.

Here are some of the M&IW team’s favorite ideas. (Most can be planned in as little as 30 days!)

Live Performances

There’s nothing like the energy of a live performance, and that energy can be captured virtually! An exclusive, livestreamed concert just for your employees is one special example. The right artist will have attendees dancing along at home and bragging to all their friends about the unique, exceptional experience.

Virtual entertainment doesn’t have to be one-sided. Magicians, comedians, and other virtual performers can include audience participation through the chat feature or by spotlighting select attendees on camera.

Another benefit of live performances is that attendees’ families can join in on the fun. Employees will appreciate being able to connect with their loved ones as well as their colleagues.

Attendee Interaction

For a more engaging experience for your employees, activities that encourage attendee interaction are the way to go. If you’re not sure where to begin, consider teambuilding activities you would do in person. Odds are that there’s a way to offer that virtually. Popular examples are virtual escape rooms and trivia games.

Another high-energy idea is to raise the stakes with a virtual casino night. Double the fun by allowing employees to use their winnings at the end of the event for company swag or other prizes. For a more CSR-minded focus, provide a choice of charities they can donate their winnings to.

In fact, virtual CSR activities are a popular trend. Even if team members are remote, they can still make a great impact together. With materials shipped in advance, your team can make care packages together with a virtual leader walking them through how to assemble and send the packages. Another idea is to start a charitable challenge, like a fundraiser or steps challenge, prior to the event and use the time together to share the final impact and celebrate the winners.

Hands-on Activities

Hands-on activities like a cooking class or mixology class are another way for attendees to be active participants in the event. They learn something new and get a delicious treat out of the experience. Depending on the class chosen, family members can also participate; a pizza-making class is more family-friendly than a mixology class, for example.

To give your team a treat without the work, try tastings instead of classes. Virtual wine and whiskey tastings are popular, but you can also arrange chocolate pairings, charcuterie tastings, and much more.

No matter what route you go, these hands-on activities require shipping items to the attendees prior to the event. This may require a longer lead time in order to collect addresses and other pertinent information.

Virtual mixology class

Sending Gifts

Whether you send items needed for the virtual event or just a special something to show your appreciation, employees will love receiving a gift shipped to their door. It’s an effective way to elevate the overall experience.

Even if the gift isn’t directly needed for the event, think of fun ways to incorporate it. One example is hats that can be worn on camera. Maybe they’re baseball caps with the company logo, or maybe they’re based on the location of your headquarters, like cheeseheads for Wisconsin or cowboy hats for Texas.

A failsafe idea is to gift for the season. If your event is in the summer, for example, give a “fun in the sun” package with sunscreen, sunglasses, and other related items. For a winter event, hot chocolate and a cashmere scarf will leave recipients feeling warm and fuzzy.

Attendees on a virtual call wearing cheesehead hats

Next Steps

Don’t let a lack of resources keep you from giving your employees a virtual event to remember. At M&IW, we’re here to support you! Contact us to learn more and start planning. Already an M&IW customer? Contact your Customer Success Manager.


Contributors

Headshot of Kaycee McFalls

Kaycee McFalls

Digital Producer, Production & Technology

Meetings & Incentives Worldwide, Inc.

Headshot of Peggy Polick

Peggy Polick

Sr. Engagement Consultant

Meetings & Incentives Worldwide, Inc.