Looking to build camaraderie and connection within a remote workforce? A virtual company event might be exactly what you’re looking for!
Our company hosted a gratitude scavenger hunt to celebrate National Gratitude Month. Scheduled just before Thanksgiving, it was a perfect time to reflect on what we’re thankful for and to show appreciation for the people in our lives. The goal for our virtual event was simple: to bring our remote team members together for a chance to connect and learn about gratitude.
The event was a huge success! We learned that we could create genuine connections between employees in fun and engaging ways — without spending a lot of money or time! We’re excited to share a recap of our experience so other companies can foster this same sense of connection within their own workplace. Keep reading to find out how we did it, and what we learned along the way.
How we set up our virtual event
When we designed a wellness program for our remote workforce at MoveSpring, one of our main goals was to prioritize building community. To help us reach that goal, we surveyed our team to find their wellness interests ahead of time. This gave us the insight needed to design events around topics that resonated with the team at large.
We ran our event in November, which is National Gratitude Month in the US. The topic of gratitude also happened to be one that our team was interested in. It was a perfect time to reflect on the things we’re thankful for and show appreciation for the people that matter most. While we ran a gratitude scavenger hunt for National Gratitude Month, you can also run your own virtual or in-person scavenger hunt on a wide variety of topics — any time of year!
We sent out a calendar invite with a Google Meet link to all employees to set up our event. We blocked off 45 minutes around lunchtime to ensure that it was a convenient time for the majority of our employees. We also scheduled our event over two weeks in advance to make sure everyone could plan ahead of time, before their calendar had a chance to fill up.
We also rewarded participation in the event through our larger wellness program to incentivize engagement. The majority of our team ended up attending, which allowed everyone to get to know folks on other teams as well, and share with people they wouldn’t normally talk to on a daily basis.
We were excited to see how quickly we saw the ‘yes’ responses flood in following our invite. It was evident to us that our employees were looking for ways to connect and were excited to join in on our interactive scavenger hunt. Our co-founders even joined in on their phones in an Uber to the airport!
Running the virtual event
We broke our event into three main sections: icebreakers, a quick intro to gratitude, and the scavenger hunt.
Our call started with two icebreaker questions:
- What is something that is different this year vs. last year that you’re grateful for?
- What do you do to practice gratitude in your daily life?
We encouraged on-camera sharing to better connect with our teammates. Video fatigue can be a concern for remote teams, so we also stayed flexible to allow for off-camera sharing as well.
The discussion was a great way to start the conversation and get familiar with the topic. It also started off our call on the right foot — our event was a safe space to be open, vulnerable, and to learn new things about our colleagues.
Next, we went through a few slides featuring an educational intro to gratitude. Despite our icebreaker proving that our team was very familiar with gratitude, we didn’t want to leave anyone on the sidelines in case they wanted to learn more. We covered what gratitude means, why it matters, and strategies to incorporate a gratitude practice into your routine.
After setting the stage, it was time for the scavenger hunt! We selected our prompts ahead of time based on what we thought would engage our team, but you can substitute with any other prompts for your own event.
Our attendees had five minutes to find three items in their homes or workspaces that represented:
- 1 item that you’re grateful for in your daily routine
- 1 item that reminds you of the people you’re grateful for
- 1 item that you’re grateful for that brings you joy
We displayed a 5-minute timer onscreen and when the time was up, we went off into breakout rooms* and we allowed each participant 2-3 minutes to share more about their scavenged items. Our event leaders took the lead to start the conversation to help everyone get comfortable sharing, and each breakout room fostered an intimate experience to openly share and discuss as a group. We recommend rooms of 4 - 6 participants so everyone has enough time to share.
*Learn how to set up breakout rooms via Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams.
At the end of the event, we all came together one last time to share any final thoughts with the whole team, and then said our goodbyes.
While our company consists of a smaller-knit team of under 30, you can recreate a similar experience with a larger group too! Make sure to build in extra time for sharing in your breakout rooms, utilize the ‘raise hand’ feature, and allow for flexibility with sharing ideas and comments in chat threads.
💡Looking to run an in-person event instead? Ask employees to find their gratitude items ahead of time and bring them to the office for an in-person show-and-tell activity.
What we learned
We were blown away by the positive response to the event, and how much we learned about our colleagues!
Here were our takeaways from running a virtual company scavenger hunt.
It was a powerful way to learn more about our teammates
It can be tough to virtually connect with colleagues, but even harder to do so in a meaningful and personal way. While our activity was based around personal sharing, participants had control over which items they selected and could share to the extent they felt comfortable.
The items shared in the scavenger hunt ranged from sentimental pieces, to items that were staples of a daily routine, and everything in-between. Books, exercise equipment, framed artwork, and souvenirs were just a few examples of the items shared.
These items helped us to better understand our teammates’ interests, hobbies, family history, and wellness routines. The ability to learn so much about our teammates was truly a unique and exciting experience. By the end of the event, participants shared they felt closer and more connected.
The team appreciated the midday break
The event proved to be a great way to pull everyone out of their daily routine. Remote work can often mean long spurts of individual focus work without much social interaction. Because of this, it can sometimes be easy to forget to take a break midday, and our event encouraged this with a fun, mindful activity.
By intentionally scheduling the event ahead of time, we were able to get buy-in from managers, who also took the opportunity to join in on the fun. While the goal of the event was to practice and learn about gratitude, we accomplished much more than that by encouraging a midday break for social interaction and community-building.
Employees were genuinely engaged and open to sharing
Gratitude can be a very personal subject for some, and we feared it wouldn’t be easy to get everyone to share openly and honestly. The opposite ended up happening!
Everyone was very excited to share their answers when we opened up with our icebreaker questions. It inspired a mutual moment of reflection that allowed for the team to share gratitude for personal, professional, and social elements in their lives. As a few folks started to share, we saw more and more hands go up waiting to participate.
We recommend running community events throughout the year to foster a strong sense of community year-round. We incorporated virtual events into our wellness program to build trust and connection within our group, and to show that we were invested in their social and workplace wellness.
Our team experienced an instant boost of connection
Beyond the benefits of practicing gratitude and learning about our teammates, the biggest takeaway from our event is that we felt an instant boost of connection! The dopamine rush we got from practicing gratitude and spending time with each other kept our team buzzing all day.
We even had team members posting in our public wellness Slack channel about how fun it was, and how they’d love to see more similar events in the future. The wellness survey we ran a month later echoed those sentiments, so we plan to offer additional community events on a more consistent cadence moving forward!
Hosting your own virtual team event
A well-rounded wellness program should have a variety of ways to engage employees with their health and wellness. While content and challenges provide the groundwork for our own wellness program, virtual events proved to be a great way to change up the pace every once and a while.
We heard it loud and clear — providing an intentional way for the team to get together and learn in an engaging way was a powerful strategy to foster community and connection. It helped our employees break out of their work mode to focus on a moment of self-care and reflection. And we didn’t spend a dime to boot!
If you’re hoping to run a similar event at your organization, make sure to consider your employees’ availability, interests, and the company culture at large. Each of these variables can affect participation, so always take into account the things that make your organization and employee population unique. If you’re not sure, survey your employees to see what they’re interested in.
We hope this post inspires you to go run your own company wellness event! Because what better way to show your employees that you appreciate them than giving them the time and space to pause, work on their own wellness, and build community?