Have you tried scheduling a Virtual Happy Hour with your team? I have been to a lot of Zoom Happy Hours over the last few months, all types and sizes. If they are done properly, it will be a fun and refreshing moment in time that strengthens relationships.
There are a few “rules” I think are important. Feel free to modify or even break these down depending on your situation.
An invitation with a Zoom link was sent out with a Happy Hour from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm on a workday. Everyone was invited to join, bring their beverage of choice, and wear a hat. Check out Hats Off for full instructions and examples of this online activity.
The hosts logged in 5 minutes early to greet people as they arrived. I was the designated facilitator because I was the host of the Zoom account and could manage the breakout rooms. The other hosts were made co-hosts so they could allow people into the meeting as they joined.
We had about 5 people show up early or right on time. Fifteen minutes into the Happy Hour, we had about 12 of the 20 people in the cohort plus the 3 hosts and myself. A total of 16 people.
As people joined, we had only our cameras on (no shared screens) and we used Gallery View so everyone could see everyone. There was a lot of informal chit chat as we welcomed people. The energy increased as more people joined.
About 8 minutes into the Virtual Happy Hour, I asked if anyone wanted to share why they wore their hat (about 3/5 the people on the call were wearing hats). Several people shared a story about their hat. We did not ask everyone to share because it was a large group and not all wore them.
I split them into four breakout rooms with 3-4 people in each. I gave them a conversation starter question and told them they could talk about anything. They had 10 minutes in the breakout room.
When they came back from the breakouts, I asked a few people to share and we spent another 8 minutes or so together. The conversation was very loosely structured, much different than a facilitated meeting.
Next, we took a picture of everyone wearing their hats and holding their beverages. I took this using my phone – though a screenshot would have worked too.
Then, I put them into breakout rooms with new people and a different starter question for another 10 minutes. When the time was up and they all returned to the main room, I asked a few people to share and we had another full group conversation for about 10 minutes.
I screen-shared the cohort picture we had just taken (which I uploaded while they were in the second breakout) and uploaded the picture to chat so they could all download it on their own computers. Then, I put them into a third breakout with new people and asked them to come up with a #hashtag for the photo. This time they only had about 6 minutes because we were getting close to the top of the hour.
When they returned from the breakouts, they each shared the #hashtags and we had a few more minutes of light conversation.
At the top of the hour, we thanked them all for coming. Everyone said their well wishes to each other and left the meeting with smiles on their faces.
The hosts now have a fun team picture and hashtag to share at a future cohort session.
Virtual Happy Hour is an interacting and high energy team building activity created to engage your participants. This online activity can be an optional or required team meeting. A well run team Happy Hour will strengthen relationships because participants have fun, get to know each other, and build memories together.
About the Author: Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field. Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are happy and high-performing.
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