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How to Plan a Virtual Offsite for Remote Employees

Do you know what’s in your coworkers’ fridge? What about how they came across their dog and the famous tricks that their furry pal knows? Or what about your coworkers’ special hidden talent? It’s not typical that we get to learn these unusual and fun facts about our coworkers, but recently at GoLinks, we had the opportunity to get a peek into our colleagues’ personal lives at our Q2 Virtual Offsite event. 

Even as the world begins to open up, we still remain first and foremost a remote company. Our remote nature began from our founding days, before the pandemic, and we continue the work to explore effective and engaging ways to connect our team members across the US. 

The following is an account of how our virtual team came together for team bonding and interactive activities in a virtual environment, along with some of the tools we used to make this happen.

How to host a virtual offsite (pro tips from a remote company)

Prior to the event

Prior to the day of the event, everyone was invited to access our planning document at go/q2offsite to contribute their ideas and to sign up for any of the activities. We had previously organized a virtual Holiday Party in 2020, so we were able to get a head start by bringing back what worked well previously. This was also a good time to make changes and introduce new ideas, especially now that our team had more than doubled in size.

Since our last company-wide virtual event, we introduced go links normalization, so when we announced our offsite document, our employees no longer had to ask, “So is that go/q2-offsite or go/q2offsite?” It’s all one and the same with normalization and this new feature made the communication and access of any multi-word go links much simpler.

Theme planning

The theme for our Virtual Offsite was Crazy Hats! This was an easy lift on our employees’ part, and participants showed up in their enormous foam hat, cowboy hat, sports hat, and for those who didn’t have a hat, they were able to visit go/snapcam to download virtual hat options. With employees located across the nation, spanning from California to as far Northeast as New York and as Southeast as Florida, we all connected over Google Meet.

GoLinks team uses Google Meet for virtual offsite communication

Schedule planning with Google Meet

Speaking of Google Meet, we had added eight separate meetings on our team members’ calendars outlining the specific activities for the day. We separated the meetings because we wanted to build breaks in between activities for our participants to sign on and off as needed (to avoid Zoom fatigue), and we used variable go links to target the specific meeting destination. Essentially, as each meeting was added on to the calendar, the go/meetwith/q2offsite variable link ensured that our participants were all logging into the same Google Meet video no matter which calendar meeting button they clicked. We were also able to do breakout rooms whenever we needed.

As before, we wanted to keep in mind the time zone differences of our employees to ensure that regardless of where our employees are located, we can share similar experiences together. We kicked off the day with breakfast for teammates on the West Coast and lunch for those on the East Coast. We had invited all of our employees to order their meal on go/food, which connected to our Uber Eats business account. See some delicious dishes below 😋 .

GoLinks team member meal for virtual offsite

Virtual offsite games

During our Team Meal, we introduced our new summer interns and employees in a game of Two Truths and a Lie. Team members voted for the answers over #Slack and after our new hires revealed their answers, we discovered that we had among our midst a former varsity badminton player, a former FM radio DJ, a pilot-in-training, and a teammate who passed as a famous rapper-singer. Guess who?

Two truth and one lie with new GoLinks team members

After introductions, we kicked off the activities with GoLinks Cribs. Employees who volunteered to give us a tour of their GoLinks HQ showed us everything from the wheels in their driveway to the dolphin statue in their backyard. Other than the typical work area, we saw personal touches like a La Croix-filled fridge, a DJ set up, and a fitness room with punching bags. We even saw new, big, gorgeous homes in Texas and Florida that made us Californians wonder why we’re still living here!

Virtual GoLinks Cribs: team building event

After getting properly kicked out of their Cribs, we received another type of showing – a showing of talents. It began with a go/candle presentation by one of our SDRs, Amanda, on how to make candles so beautiful that they could be sold on Etsy. We next received an education via go/pointsguide on how to earn free travel rewards with credit card points, which allowed our presenter and Account Exec Grant to travel the world, including a trip to see fireworks at Australia’s Sydney Harbor on NYE! Following was a fun beat-making lesson with Ableton by Tyler on our Customer Success team, and to top it off, Tyler’s twin-brother, Ethan, in Sales (Yes, we have a pair of twins at GoLinks!) gave the final lesson with a session on how to make delicious B-52s and Corona Sunrise cocktails to kick off our summer.

A presentation on candle making by a GoLinks team member

After our morning events, we all took a lunch/dinner break. Those who wanted to join in stayed online while others dropped off. We regrouped for a virtual tour of some magnificent destinations around the world. We saw beautiful images from our Engineering Director and his wife on their honeymoon at go/sean-hawaii-trip; the breathtaking mountains of Nepal, Armenia, and the US from our Designer, Aram, on go/camping; and the adventurous city-life that our SDR, Austin, experienced in Japan at go/chugg-japan when he lived there for two years. 

A GoLinks team member at Alabama Hills
A GoLinks team member in Hawaii

Following the feast for our eyes, we next put another part of our bodies to work with a drawing lesson on go/autodraw. Led by our very own Bob “Tyler” Ross, we etched out digital pictures of buzzing bees, slippery seals, and delusional dogs while enjoying wines that were shipped to employees who had opted-in. We discovered that we were all artists of sorts – because art was in fact in the eye of the beholder. 

Virtual offsite wine and draw event

In the middle of our party, some new members joined – Bane, Ava, Henry, Finn, and Ka Lae. No they aren’t artists or employees. They are the canine companions that we sometimes hear in meetings and see in our #pets channel. In a way, they do feel like one of us but the difference is that they have lots of tricks up their sleeves. We learned of their history and witnessed some neat tricks. We had even heard that corgis have heart-shaped bottoms, so Brian decided to show us!

GoLinks team member shares his dog's cute heart tail

We moved on to happy hour and we spun up YouTube to wrap up our activities with a few lively performances. The crew was asked to visit go/karaoke to sign up to perform their best hits. Our entertainers delivered by belting out tunes from Grease, The Dayman, The 1975, Katy Perry, The Who, Biz Markie, and Madonna. Closing out the day, one of our East Coast employees wrapped up the karaoke party by paying homage to Afroman with a West Coast hip-hop song. That fittingly completed our coast-to-coast celebration, and similar to our last offsite, one of our Sales folks wrapped up the meeting from a swimming pool!  

Virtual karaoke during GoLinks's virtual offsite

We hope you enjoyed reading about our journey to connect our remote team and were able walk away with some great virtual offsite ideas. We wish you luck as you plan a virtual offsite event! In summary, these were our go-to go links for our remote event:

  • go/docs → to collect ideas and organize your activities 
  • go/cal  → to schedule your activities
  • go/meet → to see your teammates
  • go/snapcam  → to jazz up your event with virtual images 
  • go/food  → to order delicious meals
  • go/slack  → to share images and screenshots 
  • go/autodraw  → to bring out the artist in you
  • go/karaoke  → to sign up to sing your heart out
  • go/[insert your own here] → to create intuitive, secure, and memorable go links for your team

If you are a remote employer and have used GoLinks or other tech tools to organize your virtual events, we’d love to hear what’s worked for you!

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