How to host a party on Zoom: Six activities for your next remote happy hour

Working from home comes with some great perks, but it isn’t just one big party. While remote work can be incredibly fulfilling and collaborative, you might miss the sense of joy and connection from team gatherings. But you don’t have to miss out on that face time just because you’re remote. 

One of the ways we’ve built such a strong team culture in our fully-remote organization has been by creating opportunities for camaraderie and connection. Weekly happy hours, donut buddies calls, Alley Film Club, Alley Book Club, Halloween parties, and holiday gift exchanges are just a few of the fun virtual gatherings we’ve had here at Alley. 

Here are a few virtual events you can use to facilitate online team building:

1. Join Multiplayer Online Party Games

Virtual games can be a great way to get people working together. (Some teams at Alley even do a quick round to break the ice before Scrum events.) Online games like Drawful 2 (a Pictionary-inspired game), Quiplash (similar to Mad-Lib), and Fishbowl are easy options that can help take the pressure off admins to facilitate game time. And since some of these games split the group into teams, it can be an effective (and fun) way to get people working with colleagues they might not otherwise collaborate with for their regular work. 

2. Host Online Drawing or Word Games

Classic games such as Pictionary or Charades are other great candidates for virtual parties. Whether you use physical drawings that you can hold up to your camera or tools like Google Drawings or Zoom annotation, these games allow colleagues to flex their creativity and sense of humor together. 

3. Record GIFs and Videos Together

Take some time to be silly and record it for posterity! Make the most of virtual backgrounds, funny filters, or even costumes. (Goofy hat contest, anyone?) You can do this by recording the Zoom to MP4 video or using screen-capture software such as Giphy Capture to get results in GIF form. And don’t forget: you don’t have to wait for a team happy hour to get goofy. If your team is celebrating a win or simply having an awesome team moment, take a moment to commemorate it (just ask permission first)!

4. Play More Traditional Games Together

You can use  Zoom’s nonverbal feedback functionality to play any game where people can raise their Zoom hands, show cards, or buzz in. These tools can work great for games like Trivia or 20 Questions. You can also extend these games to bridge work and play. For example, taking time out of a Scrum meeting to introduce new team members with a round of Two Truths and a Lie can be a great ice breaker. 

5. Host a Film Club, Book Club, or DJ Room

Sharing common interests is a great way to connect as a team. Whether you do a team-wide book club or set up Watch Party for groups with more specific interests — it’s a cool way to come together and share experiences. At Alley, we’ve hosted a team-wide book club on Jeff and J.J. Sutherland’s Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, while more niche community groups have hosted watch parties, such as our Affinity Group, Camp Queers, streaming of Eurovision.   

6. Just Chill

Don’t underestimate the power of simple quality time. Remote happy hours, welcome parties, and even goodbye parties have helped us forge powerful relationships and make great memories. Encouraging casual participation so team members can prep their dinner while on camera or join the meeting from their poolside patio can help ease the dynamic. It’s much more fun to see people in their home environment and learn a little about how your coworkers live. (We also get to see kids, pets, and significant others pop in to say hello!) And, of course: don’t forget to chill.

A White man with long dark hair patting a grey and black cat and then drinking from a glass

Have Fun! 

It might be an adjustment from after-work meetups in the city or pizza parties in the conference room, but virtual gatherings are still a powerful tool for team building and interpersonal relationships. Embracing virtual gatherings and finding creative ways to connect with colleagues can be a game-changer in establishing and maintaining a strong team culture, even when working remotely.
Looking for more ways to improve your work life? Check out these tips to strike a better balance when working from home.