More and more small businesses are running out of a virtual office, rather than physical office space. Companies large and small use virtual office situations so that employees can telecommute to work from where they live or even from a coffee shop. All mail and calls are routed through a central virtual office provider and forwarded to the appropriate person in the organization. But when it comes to the holidays, there may be something missing when it comes to only communicating online with management and coworkers.
Christmas provides a great opportunity to build team morale and help alleviate one of the biggest issues for those of us working from home or a virtual workplace. People who go from a traditional workplace to a home based or virtual setting miss the feeling of being connected to the workplace through the relationships they have with other employees. The feeling of isolation is one of the reasons that coworking office space is one of the leading industry trends. People really do miss the connections they have with others in the workplace.
A Christmas party whether it be real or virtual will bring these co-workers together in a setting outside of work which could go a long ways toward building connections between people who may feel disconnected from the workplace. With employees working from various places across the state or province, across the country and sometimes in a variety of different countries, planning a company holiday party can become very difficult. Not only can traveling to one place at the same time during the holidays, it can be very expensive to bring everyone together to the same location.
One alternative for virtual office users for one holiday party, is to try to get small teams together who are local to each other. This might mean two or three people who are in the same state or province finding a centrally located place to get together, maybe at a hotel, a banquet room or even at an office business centre that rents out board rooms and meeting rooms to virtual office clients in their network of business centres.
One unique way of bringing together a group of people on the same team that are scattered around (but tied together by using a virtual office), is to have a virtual gathering using Google Hangouts. Team members could also do a secret Santa gift exchange, using the their virtual office provider to forward the anonymous gifts to the right person.
Besides using technology to bring together a virtual team for a holiday gathering, you also have to consider the technology that the virtual office provider can offer to route business calls during the holidays. If some of your team will be traveling during the holidays, do you want their calls forwarded to a VoIP extension or to automatically be forwarded to their centralized voice mail with an out of office notification.
Another way that you can lift morale is to take advantage of the slow down between Christmas and New Years and give a lighter schedule to employees who would rather be with family then waiting by the phone for customers to call. It seems a small gesture, but for many, giving them the option of having more time with friends and family will lift their spirits giving them a good start into the New Year!