How to keep your team’s spirits high over the 2020 winter season

2020 has been like looking both ways before crossing the street, and then getting hit by an airplane!

We are now in the middle of the second wave of COVID-19, many of us feeling the effects of shut downs, and winter is coming.

We all know the next few months will be different; starting with no Halloween parties and questions about whether or not to Trick-or-Treat this year…

The holiday season is going to be different too. You might not be able to meet with loved ones over the holidays. I’m not even sure about my own plans, as my parents are in a high risk situation. It hurts me to think about not spending Christmas day with everyone in the kitchen cooking and laughing, trying to tune out my dad’s horrible singing, and then eating so much that we need a nap.

After the holidays, I usually start dreaming about being on a beach. I’m drinking a colourful beverage and smelling jerk chicken in the air (yes, my dream beach is in Jamaica!). Sadly, this year it doesn’t look like I’ll be living that dream. 

Inability (or the inadvisability!) to travel is one of the big changes that we need to keep on our radar. Having a week or two circled on the calendar helps you get through the days when you’re shovelling a driveway or bundling up again to go outside.

Fortunately, there are ways that employers can help their teams still have some fun and human connection to lighten the mood over the next few months. Here are some ideas we’ve collected and that our clients have suggested (with a careful eye to avoid going too heavy on Zoom-based activities!):

We’d love to hear from you on what your team is up to and we will keep updating this document with your great ideas!

As we’ve been saying this whole time… we can get through this together!

We got this!


Halloween Costume Party

You can still hold an annual Halloween Contest….this time with a virtual twist!

Imagine doing a company specific theme or small teams/department doing team costumes. Just have your team send in their Halloween costume photos or videos and hold a vote for the best in any number of categories: scariest, funniest, best use of technology, best pet costume, etc. 

Prizes are a great chance to get creative too. Anything goes, from the traditional gift cards and trophies to naming a Slack channel or choosing a costume category for next year…

Holiday / Year End Party

Holding the annual holiday party will be a little different this year, as you likely won’t be able to celebrate all that you have accomplished as a team in person.

It is important for leaders to still make an effort to show appreciation to the team and here is one great idea that we’re loving:

The Great Gift Swap:

Granted, this one is done over Zoom, but so fun that the usual Zoom fatigue of meetings doesn’t really enter into it. 

Let’s say you have 20 employees. You buy 20 gifts of roughly equal value and label them 1-20. Each employee generates a random number from 1-20 and that is the order in which they will pick an item. 

One person will host this and have all the gifts there, or can have envelopes with the gifts to be purchased and shipped directly.

The first person chooses an item from the list, then the second person can either choose one of the remaining items or take the first person’s item. 

Going down the line, each person gets a turn to choose anew or take someone else’s item – repeating the order as many times as needed. The game ends (and everyone keeps what they have) when 1) each person has a gift and 2) someone chooses to keep rather than swap – locking in the choices for everyone.

It’s great fun!

Fun and Team Engagement

Here are a few ideas, apps and companies that can help bring some engagement and energy to your team.

Recharge Your Batteries

Headspace – Meditation App

MasterClass – What would YOU want to learn?

The Great Courses – More amazing educational opportunities

Shared Food Experiences

Wavy – Team building activities done virtually
(Think: Cooking classes or Trivia Nights)

Thriver – Team Meal Delivery and other experiences
(Great for Team Lunches)

Focus on Fitness

Strava – Running Challenge 

Count.It – App for overall fitness challenges

Glo – Home Yoga 

Shared Food Experiences

Wavy – Team building activities done virtually
(Think: Cooking classes or Trivia Nights)

Thriver – Team Meal Delivery and other experiences
(Great for Team Lunches)

Other Ideas

Synervoz’s Switchboard – Watch a live sports games
or other events together with their app

Weekly Zoom-Free Days –
Choose a day where your entire team goes fully dark on Zoom.
No calls or meetings, so everyone can enjoy some focus time