Whether your business is permanently or temporarily remote, one of the biggest challenges teams face is maintaining connection and company culture when most of your communicating is done on a screen. While there are plenty of advantages to remote work, building rapport amongst teams will be one of the primary challenges businesses face as we enter a new era of work. Perhaps nowhere is this more obvious than when it comes to the holiday office party. A time-honoured tradition for many businesses, there are few better opportunities for colleagues to kick back, relax and bond. While building connected teams in remote workplaces will take intentional effort year-round, managers need to be particularly thoughtful during the holiday season.

So, we’ve put together some of our top tips for keeping that holiday spirit alive, even if you’re working remotely.

1.    Keep it Inclusive

First of all, it’s important to acknowledge that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Many other cultural and religious holidays are celebrated in this season, including Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Diwali. A simple adaptation to be more inclusive is to use language like ‘holiday season’, ‘holiday party’, etc., so that you aren’t accidentally leaving anyone out. However, you can go even further by learning about other holiday traditions and incorporating them into your celebrations, if appropriate. Most importantly, be as flexible as you can in letting employees choose days off that align with the holiday traditions they observe.

2.    Make it Interactive

A Zoom meeting that you call an ‘office holiday party’ is unlikely to get anyone in the holiday spirit. At this point, many of us are feeling the effects of isolation and burnout from digital meetings, which is why incorporating elements of interaction and engagement are essential.This is a great opportunity to get colleagues involved in planning the holiday celebration. Strike a party planning committee or poll employees on what they would love to do most. By involving staff in the plans, you can give your team a fun opportunity to interact and bond over something different than typical day-to-day work.

Some ideas for interactive online celebrations include:

  • A ‘digital Secret Santa’ or gift exchange.
  • A themed online party like an ‘Ugly Sweater’ contest.
  • Bringing in an outside instructor to host a cooking class or DIY holiday craft workshop.
  • Hosting an office talent show and inviting employees to show off their best and silliest skills.

3.    Don’t Forget the Holidays are Also About Giving Back

You know the old saying; it’s better to give than to receive? Creating meaningful opportunities for employees to give back over the holiday season is an excellent way for teams to bond. Challenge your staff to see who can raise the most money or contribute the most volunteer hours, or pick a charitable initiative such as ‘adopting’ a family in need, and bring your team together to support a worthy cause.

4.    Reward Your Team with Gratitude (and Rest!)

Most importantly, after a long, hard year, time away to be with friends and family is perhaps the most important thing you can give your team. Many offices decide to close over the holidays and give staff some bonus time off. If this isn’t possible for your business, see what other options you have to reward your team with more flex days.

Finally, while bonuses at the holidays are always appreciated, especially with so many costs on the rise, we know this isn’t feasible for every organization. Instead, consider sending employees gift packages, a gift certificate or a handwritten note of gratitude. In our increasingly digital and disconnected world, these simple gestures can go a long way.


Building connected teams will be essential in our new remote and hybrid workplaces. If you need help, reach out to the team at Cenera today to learn how our team of HR experts can support you in building exceptional workplace cultures.


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