It’s that time of year, where people are breaking out their ugly sweaters, packing the calories onto paper plates under plastic wrap for sharing, and scrambling for babysitters so they can attend the Holiday/Christmas/End of Year/Whatever party. But what about those team members who aren’t able to attend these events because they work remotely? You could be adding to their sense of isolation if you’re not careful.
Trying to maintain tradition and have a good time while including everyone can be a challenge. I encourage you to share your ideas in the comments or whichever social media channel you see this, because heaven knows we could all use some suggestions. In the meantime, it might be a good idea to take a look at how we’ve dealt with this challenge here at the Kevin Eikenberry Group.
Even though we have people in several parts of the country, the bulk of our team is in the Indianapolis area. It’s always been our tradition to hold an in-person, end of the year general meeting, and combine it with a holiday celebration. This year, for mostly personal and family reasons, a number of us wouldn’t be able to attend. What to do?
The Virtual Holiday Celebration
The answer—and it’s an experiment to be sure—is to hold our Christmas celebration virtually. Those who can make it to our Remarkable House headquarters in Indy will do so, and I guarantee a good time will be had. Those of us who live in Virginia, or Las Vegas, or Dallas, will connect via webcam and arrangements have been made for our own holiday feast (I’m going to be eating lunch early that day, it would seem).
Kevin has purchased a large, high-definition television/monitor so those of us on webcam don’t look like little tiles that nobody can see, and our mics will be open. Based on past meetings, there will be laughter, insults, compliments and everything that makes a good meeting—or even a party—successful.
Using Technology to Make the Season Bright
Additionally, some of the staff (those who have great imagination and aren’t cranky old boring guys like me) have created some activities that will work for all participants equally. Top of the list is an Appreciation Quiz… we are using Survey Monkey (free and easy to use) to answer questions about each other like: “I really am amazed by how you…” or “I see ____ as your greatest skill,” or “This is what you bring to the team.”
In the past we have used online “Secret Santa” tools like Elfster or SecretSantaOrganizer to do the same kind of gifting people in the office have always used (and let’s face it, since 90% of what we give these days are gift cards, location matters less and less).
No matter where people are located, they want to feel part of the team. When people already feel isolated, or that the “home team” gets more attention and love, it’s easy to let this time of celebration and impromptu fun drive a wedge where one shouldn’t be.
We’re showing you the electronic invite that we created as a sample, and shared a couple of our ideas. Get creative and set your people loose to see what they come up with. And let the remote folks take the first kick at it.
No matter what you celebrate, or at what time of the year, including everyone is critical to a high-performing team culture.
And Happy Holidays from all of us at the Remote Leadership Institute and the Kevin Eikenberry Group!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.