How to include far-flung and off-shift staff in company events

You can’t email cupcakes, and the pizza is cold (if there’s any left) when your third-shifters arrive, so try these three tactics to involve remote workers and others in workplace festivities.

Remote worker events

Employee events can build engagement and signal a shift in culture.

You might hold such events for the rollout of a leadership vision, a company transformation or an employer brand launch. They provide a feel-good experience for employees that goes far beyond print or digital or even video channels.

It’s important to include employees outside corporate headquarters. For a wide range of reasons, it’s often deemed too difficult to include those in other geographic locations, in call centers or working night shifts. Home-based employees are usually excluded as well. After all, how can you create an event for one person?

Here are three tips to expanding your reach when planning an employee event:

1. Scale the event materials by location.It might not be practical to stage an event of the same magnitude in every global outpost, but you can scale back the materials and activities to suit the locale. At a recent rebranding event, a corporate headquarters was the epicenter of the happenings, but similar events took place simultaneously in another U.S. office and in smaller European offices. That required determining—with help from local reps—the proper number of elements and the right agenda for each.

2. Widen the window of opportunity. Instead of a two-hour event, make it a daylong affair. This approach is helpful with call centers or other circumstances where somebody’s got to be manning the fort at all times. For night shifts, you might conduct a separate event; instead of serving lunch, offer midnight hot dogs and barbecue. It means a lot to those people when you make sure they aren’t left out.

3. Send home-based employees an event-in-a-box. Each package might include a letter from the CEO about the spotlighted cultural or business milestone, the same branded swag available at the event—from T-shirts to travel mugs—and even refreshments, such as a branded cookies or box of mints. You might hold online scavenger hunts when launching an intranet or hold themed photo contests. Home-based employees can participate in those activities along with those in the corporate office.

A version of this post first appeared on the Tribe blog.

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