by Sam at Management 3.0
Something everyone looks forward to at work is being made to feel special at the office. Whether it’s decorating a desk, or being taken out for lunch or having your name plastered all over the office in a hugely embarrassing way, birthdays are happy times at work and a chance to tell colleagues that you appreciate them (although we, at Management 3.0 believe this should be done year round).
So what happens when that special time is taken away? Like, for example, during a once in a century global pandemic where few people are working in the office and everyone’s gone remote?
While nothing replaces in-person birthdays, there are ways to make them fun virtually. Here are 5 ways to create excellent virtual birthdays for your colleagues.
#1: Send Invitations: It might seem ridiculous, but sending an ecard is a great way to set the tone by making it special and giving people something to look forward to. Events take on a new meaning when those involved take ownership of them and create a buzz around it. So let other people know what’s on the horizon and give them a chance to get excited about something fun happening at work that week.
#2: Pick a theme: This goes with setting the tone. Pick a theme, perhaps the birthday boy or girl likes a certain colour, or rock band or sport. Get everyone on board either as a surprise or by including the birthday person in the decision making. At Management 3.0, we pick themes for some of our longer strategy meetings, ranging from wearing specific colours, or articles of clothing, and it makes the meetings that much more fun.
#3: Have a dance party: Or at least get out of the chairs. Some people equate virtual dance parties to forced fun, we get that. So it doesn’t have to be actual dancing, but do something that gets people moving. The more you move, the more relaxed you get and the easier it is to let the conversations flow. A few years ago, we held a virtual holiday party where we discussed our dancing styles. The Wall Street Journal covered it, and while it was titled: What’s Worse Than an office holiday party? A virtual office holiday party, don’t let it deter you! It can be a lot of fun!
#4: Champagne brunch or wine dinner: Be creative. A virtual birthday celebration means you don’t have to conform to any norms. No need to do a lunch or a cake over coffee. Why not move the party to a brunch on Friday or or a dinner? People can come and go as they need but it gives you more time to have more fun with colleagues.
#5: Stick to and create traditions: Studies show that traditions are strong ways to keep people together and create a sense of community. Whether you had traditions pre COVID or want to create new ones, be intentional about how you celebrate and let everyone on the team or in the office know what you’re doing and why. They’ll feel part of the decision making process and be more invested in the celebration.