At Projectline, we’re on a never-ending quest to drive innovation in remote work. Through years of firsthand experience and experimentation, we’ve learned that the benefits of remote work are good for business, and good for people and the global workforce. Remote work directly supports diversity, equity, and inclusion, along with flexibility, productivity, retention and many other organizational goals. However, remote work comes with unique challenges. The Projectline workforce is a blend of onsite, remote, and traveling employees. We are made up of about 30% remote, 10% onsite, and a mix of employees who work under partial onsite and remote arrangements. With a mix of co-located, onsite, and remote team members, our entire workforce is fully remote enabled to allow flexibility and serve changing role needs. Remote capability across our organization has been critical to our efforts to equalize work experiences, formal and fun, for every Projectliner near or far.
As a leadership team, we are constantly solving for leveling interactions among team members. The next step in our remote journey took place in January of this year, when we decided to hold our first company-wide remote holiday party. One of the difficulties of being a distributed workforce is that it poses challenges to in-person meetings, team building opportunities, and any other traditional team gatherings. With the goal of recreating an amazing in-person holiday experience, we brainstormed, tested, and thought outside of the box to host a festive party to ring in 2020—100% virtually.
What we did:
Party in a box. Prior to the event, all Projectliners received a special package we dubbed a “Holiday Party in a Box.” The box included a personal invitation with party details and a holiday passport with fun facts from Winter traditions all around the globe. Of course, every good party has decorations, so each of our employees also received a gold curtain to hang behind their remote set-up to create a personal party atmosphere.
Next, no party would be complete without yummy treats, so the box was complete with beverages from Curious Elixirs, a craft cocktail glass, a board for charcuterie, and vegan chocolates. And, last but not least, music. All Projectliners were invited to contribute their favorite (holiday and non-holiday) tunes to a shared Spotify playlist for all to enjoy.
Getting acquainted. In addition to walking through the contents and meaning of our party in a box, we kicked off with personal intros, holiday photo and tradition sharing, and opportunities to spotlight as many of our 80+ attendees as possible. We dedicated time to connecting Projectliners from Seattle to Singapore who would never interact otherwise.
New Projectline traditions. Damian Hoffman, our GM, made a toast to the new year, expressing appreciation for all the work and care coming out of our teams, starting a new annual tradition for our holiday celebrations.
Virtual catwalk. One of my favorite parts of attending parties is getting dressed up. All attendees were encouraged to wear their most festive attire—the limits were boundless. To showcase all the wonderful outfits, we hosted a virtual catwalk where Projectliners took turns wowing the party goers with their party garb. From gowns to the flashy, fun, and eclectic, our attendees were all dressed up with a very important place to go – our remote holiday party!
Trivia time. We challenged our party attendees to play 2019 trivia. From tidbits out of the holiday passport to pop culture events and the Future of Work, our Projectliners shined in a competitive but friendly game of trivia.
Entertainment. What’s a party without entertainment? To close out the event, we brought in magician Austin Fields, a member of the famous Magic Castle, to engage the audience with a magic show including sleight of hand, mentalism, and even a special trick involving Projectline President, Anika Lehde as the guest assistant.
Gifts and rewards. To add to the fun, we had a variety of gifts and rewards. First, we did a drawing out of the first 30 attendees to arrive and sent a special winner a bottle of La Grande Dame (dubbed liquid gold by GM, Damian Hoffman). Trivia winners and the recipient of “Best Catwalk Outfit” received gift cards to the Sill to bring a little green to their home offices.
Want to experience our party first-hand? Check out our holiday party gallery here.
What we learned:
We took a variety of learnings from successes to challenges. Most of all, we now know that it’s POSSIBLE to produce remote events that are engaging, fun, and promote closeness among colleagues. Although we successfully navigated through many challenges, remote events bring a complexity that’s different from in-person events. They involve high attention to detail and a wide range of back-end support, from IT needs to day-of coordination.
When you are a globally distributed team, time zones also add difficulty. Based on employee feedback, we chose a time that would allow for maximum availability (we conducted a survey prior to landing on a date and time to host the party). We have to extend a special thanks to GoToMeeting which we chose as the platform to host our largest virtual gathering, utilizing its capabilities to optimize the presenter and audience experience. Remote events require us to prioritize the most critical facets of an event to drive positive experience and to think outside of the box to most closely recreate in-person interactions.
Not only do we strive to innovate team engagement through remote initiatives, we pride ourselves in having best-in-class remote practices for our employees and clients. Take a look at some of our remote work management tips here.