June 11, 2020 • Workplace5 min read

9 tips for hosting a memorable work party virtually

This time last year you were planning an epic summer work do for all your colleagues to enjoy, but this year it’s not quite so straightforward. That’s why we’ve put together some ideas to help you throw the best virtual work party possible.

The sun has been shining for weeks (give or take a few days!) and it’s approaching that time of the year again when office managers and team leaders start to plan their annual summer work party. But this year looks very different. We’ve been in lockdown since 23rd March, and while retail shops are due to re-open on 15th June, many offices remain closed and social distancing is still very much the norm.

You may still be deciding whether or not to throw a work party in the coming months, or struggling to imagine how one might look when large gatherings aren’t possible, so we’re here to help give you some ideas. Read on to find out how you can throw a morale-boosting, memorable work summer party while the UK remains in lockdown. 

1. Make it virtual

Person laughing while sat on sofa with laptop on their lap

As much as we’d love to be able to come together this summer and enjoy a face-to-face party with our colleagues, it’s important to be realistic. The future is unpredictable and even when offices do begin to re-open it’s unlikely that social gatherings will be permitted for a long time to come. So, instead of channelling all your efforts into an epic welcome back party that you may have to cancel closer to the time, we recommend going virtual! 

Working from home has proven that many people can do their jobs and maintain their social lives effectively online, so it shouldn’t be any different for your work party! Read on for some virtual party inspiration.

2. Set a budget and stick to it

We know that these are tough times for a lot of businesses, and many may be on a tight budget or have staff on furlough. However, there are plenty of budget-friendly and free ways of hosting a virtual work party for everyone to enjoy. 

It might involve a little DIY and creativity, but it’s worth the effort in order to let your colleagues know that they are valued. For example, a simple write-your-own pub quiz or company-themed bingo are both free and fun activities! 

3. Set a dress code

Hanging rail with neutral coloured clothes on

Sweatpants and athleisure = the uniform of remote employees. 

Give your colleagues a chance to dress up for a change and set a dress code for your virtual work do. Whether it’s themed fancy dress or simply ‘dress to the nines’, encourage your workmates to wear something that makes their day feel a little less samey and a whole lot more special.

One way to incorporate a dress code without adding extra pressure is to ask your colleagues to wear a favourite outfit that’s currently in their wardrobe. Something that makes them feel good, whether it’s full black tie or a well-worn band tee and jeans. This option is both free and environmentally friendly!

4. Play some music

Headphones on a yellow background

Let’s be honest, no matter how hard we try, nothing can replace a proper work party that ends in some late-night dad dancing at the local bar. But music can still bring us together while we’re apart. 

Whether you hire a DJ for a virtual dance party or opt for a chilled-out Spotify playlist that everyone in the company can listen to, music undoubtedly has the power to connect us. You could even create a company-wide Spotify playlist that everyone can add songs to before the party. Ask your colleagues to choose a fixed number of songs, and make sure there are no double-ups. That way everyone feels involved and each person is guaranteed to hear at least one song they love!

Colleagues feeling brave? Why not pass the mic to your office Madonnas and let them provide the music with a virtual karaoke session? However good or bad your colleagues’ vocals are, a company-wide Zoom sing-along to Wonderwall during Lockdown 2020 is priceless entertainment that you’ll all look back on fondly… probably.

5. Get into smaller teams

Video call between two people

Video calls can get awkward if they’re between too many people for too long. So, after an company-wide introduction to your virtual work party, why not split off into smaller teams or groups for one of the fun activities we list below?

Select teams at random so that colleagues can chat to people they don’t usually work with, and make it into a competition for added motivation! If you have some budget left over, you could include a prize for the winning team.

6. Organise a fun activity

People gathered around a laptop and pointing at it

Events and entertainment companies have been quick to adapt their services to this new socially distant world, so there are loads of virtual activities you can participate in as a team during your work party.

Here are some of our favourite activity ideas:

- A virtual murder mystery party

- Virtual escape rooms

- Exclusive (and quirky) games of virtual bingo hosted by Dabbers

- Cooking class. Our Pantry Packages DIY boxes are great for this!

- Virtual pub quiz. This is one you can create yourself for a budget-friendly work party, or leave it to the pros.

Strike the balance between encouraging all colleagues to participate and ‘forced fun’. While it’s important that everyone feels included, be mindful that some people may not completely throw themselves into all the activities, and that’s okay. 

7. Order some great food

Cheese and cold meats platter

At City Pantry, we know the value of good food, and it wouldn’t be a party without some mouth-watering nibbles and refreshing beverages. Luckily, we’ve got you covered.

Our Pantry Packages food and drinks boxes are perfect for a socially distant virtual work do - we’ve got alcohol boxes, snack platters, BBQ kits, sweet treats, and more that we can deliver directly to your colleagues’ homes in time for your virtual summer party. Alternatively, our teams@home gift cards - redeemable through Just Eat - are ideal for a more laid-back affair.

Bon appétit!

8. Keep it short and sweet

Your virtual party doesn’t need to last as long as normal work parties - in fact, it shouldn’t! Videocall burnout is a real issue, and you don't want to ruin your virtual work party by dragging it on for too long. 

So, keep it short and sweet: one fun activity or multiple to choose between (use a sign-up system to cap numbers for each activity), some good food and drink, and a little bit of chit-chat to finish it off. 

9. Wrap it up

Company-wide video call, everyone is clapping on camera

Be sure to bring your work party to a close with an company-wide video call to say thanks to all your coworkers for their hard work during such a challenging time. 

Keep the mood light-hearted and end on a positive note. You could even take a group photo (like the one above) to make the memories last even longer.

Happy partying! 🎉


We hope this has helped inspire you to throw an amazing work party for your teams - wherever they’re currently based!