Tips for celebrating with teams

16 December 2020

For many of us, December has traditionally been the time to gather for a work potluck or lunch as a team, and celebrate the year. In remote environments or during gathering restrictions, we’re forced to be a little more creative than conventional celebrations. However, that doesn’t diminish the importance of taking time to reflect on all of the amazing accomplishments of the past year. It just needs to be done a little differently! 

Making time to connect with one another is more important than we think. Regular communication between staff and leaders helps develop more efficient teams and can help build and create trust. Connection is also good for our mental, social and physical health. Social connections can help us regulate emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, lower our risk for depression and anxiety, and help improve our immune systems, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

There are still a few working days left before winter closure to gather (virtually!) as a team, celebrate, reflect and have a little fun! Here are a few ideas of activities you could consider:

  • Create a 2020 team timeline - Draw an annual timeline on a shared document or slide, and invite the team to note which team accomplishment, project or activity that was the most impactful, meaningful or enjoyable! As a team, take a moment to look back at all great work accomplished in the face of adversity. 
  • Guess the Baby Photo - Invite team members to upload a photo from when they were one year old or younger in a shared folder. Upload the photos into an application like Jamboard and have team members place stickies with their guesses on the photos. The person with the most correct answers wins!
  • Virtual Trivia - Use Zoom to add team members into breakout rooms. Give each team a list of trivia questions or word scrambles (perhaps University of Alberta-specific) to solve. Use the honour system - no Google searches! Once back in the larger group, have teams share their answers to see which team can claim victory! 
  • Winter Holiday Scavenger Hunts - Design an eclectic list of 10 objects. It can be anything from a pair of snowshoes to a souvenir spoon from a ski resort! Set a timer and give team members three minutes to find the item in their homes. Please tell them to be careful! Let them be creative and give them points for something that comes “close” to the requested items! The team member with the most actual or “close” items can reign as the 2020 champion complete with a PDF certificate!
  • 2020 Team Song - Welcome team members to make (workplace appropriate) suggestions for songs that perfectly capture the challenges and opportunities your team has faced this year. For those who are really creative, perhaps they want to customize the lyrics! Have the team vote of their favourite song to memorialize 2020.

There is a saying that goes, “laughter is the best medicine”. This has been a very difficult year in many respects. Gathering the team together and participating in whatever activity seems right for your team will help bring some much-needed laughter and perhaps a little closure. Encourage rest, relaxation, self care and the importance of maintaining mental health during the holiday. The Employee and Family Assistance Program is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.