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If 2021 was any indication, remote work is a trend with real staying power. While COVID-19 turned remote work into a temporary necessity last winter, non-existent commutes, uninterrupted work time, scheduling flexibility, and other perks have turned this temporary necessity into something more long term. In fact, one recent PwC study indicates more than half of U.S. employees would now prefer to work remotely three days a week or more, with 29% saying they would like to work at home full-time.

Yet, the work-from-home model also brings along its own unique set of challenges including difficulty building camaraderie or fostering collaboration and creativity. Replicating the togetherness of the holiday season can be particularly difficult when employees do not see each other in person.

To bridge this gap, employers should take a creative approach, infusing the holiday spirit and bringing shared experiences into the remote work environment this time of year. Taking the time to celebrate your employees and recognize their efforts during the holidays reiterates how important and valued they are by your organization—helping cut down on employee turnover and build a strong employee culture.

To help you get started, we gathered some creative ideas companies are using to spread holiday cheer this December.

Holiday Music Playlists

Sometimes the simplest things can have the most significant impact. If your employees listen to music throughout the day, this is a quick and easy way to recognize that and help shift their mood. Sending out a Spotify or Apple Music playlist to commemorate the season switches things up and can make people feel more connected to each other.

Gift or Card Exchange

The biggest thing missing from the holidays in a work-from-home world is the connection between coworkers. The holiday office party is often a great excuse to connect with friends on other teams. This year, try randomly connecting your employees across the organization and encourage them to send each other a small gift or note to rekindle those relationships.

Casual (and Digital) Gatherings

If your business utilizes video conferencing software, like Microsoft Teams, creating digital gatherings is simple and efficient. Set aside a week where you place many different meetings on the calendar to encourage your employees to socialize with each other. You can center these around a time of day or a theme to differentiate each option.

Send Festive Treat Boxes

This time of the year tends to have a medley of indulgent treats. If your organization is looking for a physical embodiment of your appreciation, a simple treat box is a fun and festive option. Consider working with local organizations to customize the gift and make it that much more meaningful.

Sponsored Holiday Happy Hour

COVID-19 brought a different kind of appreciation for happy hours. If your employees are among those who have found themselves enjoying happy hour more regularly from home, this could be a great option to encourage gathering. Providing a budget for your employees to purchase drinks for attending or sending out a drink kit is a great way to show a little extra spirit.

Themed (and Digital) Office Party

If employees work too far apart to meet in person, scheduling a company-wide afternoon off and creating a digital event is a good alternative. Instead of just having a big Teams or Zoom call, create different themes, and offer breakout rooms to provide new spaces for connection. A digital holiday party also gives your employees a mental break from work to enjoy socializing.

Sponsored Digital Experiences with a Kit

It can be hard to include your employee's families in holiday festivities. Some companies invite spouses or entire families to the in-person holiday event, but in a digital environment, they tend to get left out. Engaging your employees in a digital experience – such as a cooking or crafting class that comes with a recipe or assembly kit – could be an option that includes the whole household. These experiences can be found online from various vendors.

The Impact is in the Effort

Your employees have put in the work this year. Showing your appreciation and recognition for their efforts is critical, and special effort during the holiday season will have a lasting impact.

The effort you put into making your employees feel valued this December will likely offer noticeable returns in employee satisfaction, morale, and even retention. In turn, these factors will benefit your internal operational efficiency and have a positive impact on customers.

At Avtex, we know the power of exceptional experiences. People remember how you made them feel, and your community will thrive if you take the time to send a clear message. Make it clear that you see all the work they put in in 2021 and celebrate them by making this time as special as you can from a distance.

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