“Would you dial in to the office Christmas party?” asked someone on LinkedIn. “If not, why would you think it’s OK to dial in to a retrospective or other important meeting?”
Fair point, well presented. The point of the annual shindig is, obviously:
- to get all dressed up in uncomfortable and/or expensive clothes
- take unreliable public transport to some draughty or overheated venue
- drink unwise beverages and eat food you don’t like
- let your hair down gently, while avoiding the kind of gaffes that end up with a hashtag
- share the experience with your colleagues, in the hope that’ll build stronger working relationships for the rest of the year.
Of course, Christmas parties are sometimes great fun, and sometimes spark great relationships – including marriages 🙂
But to be honest, I regard freedom from attending corporate Christmas events as one of the perks of being a home-based freelance. Maybe I’m bitter and twisted, or just getting old!
Celebrating with colleagues, though, is undoubtedly worthwhile. And you can do that remotely.
The trick is “one remote, all remote“.
Give your events a level playing field: everyone calls in from their own laptop, with a headset and working webcam, from a quiet place with decent broadband. Keep the numbers sensible – up to a dozen or so people at most.
Then, everyone can bring their own time-of-day-appropriate beverages, food etc, stick on their party hats and get dancing!
It’s perfect for remote and distributed teams. By celebrating remotely, you not only build relationships – you’re also practising the remote-communication skills you need to be more effective for the rest of the year.
Never dial in to an event which is designed to be in-person, because you will miss out. Even if you have some kind of video contact, you won’t be able to hear properly, or understand the dynamics of the group. When you do try to say anything, you will be very likely to be ignored.
Don’t ask other people to dial in to in-person events. It’s horrid, and wastes their time.
And I’d suggest that if you have any influence in the matter, don’t even allow people to dial in to in-person events, except in the most exceptional circumstances. You won’t have their full attention, and they won’t have a good experience. If it becomes accepted practice, the effectiveness of your meetings will crash horribly.
What needs to happen for you to be ready for a “one remote, all remote” Christmas party next year?