- Virtual happy hours can be an effective way to maintain social connections with your colleagues and friends while practicing social distancing.
- Anne Catamby shares the unexpected joys she has found in participating in weekly virtual happy hours.
- Some benefits of virtual happy hours include no dress codes, you get to meet new people, and you can prepare your favorite drink (cocktail or mocktail).
If you’re searching for a way to maintain social connections with your colleagues and friends outside of your work life as we collectively move into our second month of social distancing, I have three words for you: virtual happy hour.
We hold them every Friday, but I’ll admit that initially I was less than enthusiastic. In fact, I thought I’d hate them. We’re on video conference calls all day and I didn’t relish the prospect of accepting yet another Zoom, Skype video or Webex meeting invite, particularly for a Friday evening.
But within minutes of attending my first virtual happy hour, I was hooked. Now I not only look forward to them, but I’m spreading the word. Here are the 7 unexpected joys that turned me from a skeptic into an evangelist:
1. Meet new people
The subject line in the meeting invite email may be “Clarizen Marketing Team Virtual Happy Hour”, but we don’t limit it to our team members, or even Clarizen employees. We encourage each other to invite friends, even if they’re on the other side of the country or planet (although you’ll need to keep the time zone differences in mind). This helps prevent conversations from devolving into work-related issues and projects. Otherwise, the virtual happy hour would become just another virtual team meeting.
2. Smaller bar tabs
You’re your own bartender, so cocktails or mocktails are much less expensive and always made to perfection.
If you decide to enjoy some adult beverages, you don’t have to plan ahead for a safe ride home because, well, you know…
4. Express yourself
Some web conference platforms enable users to change their backgrounds to lighten the mood and make people smile during a challenging time in the world. Feel like being in the tropics? A wine cave? The Simpsons living room? No problem. Or, use it as an opportunity to show off your interior design chops, and to pick up ideas from other peoples’ living rooms, home offices, etc., for your own space.
5. No dress code
There’s no need to dress up like you do when you’re heading out to a restaurant or club. Pajama bottoms and sweatpants are always in fashion. Plus, if you have a piece of spinach stuck between your teeth or a dab of guacamole on your chin, you’ll probably be the first person who notices. Just be sure to smile and check your webcam’s video feed before you join the session.
6. Simultaneous activities
If someone mentions an article, funny video, book, movie — or pretty much anything else — then you can all jump into Google, YouTube, IMDB, etc., and take a deeper look.
7. Play DJ
People can take turns selecting background music. Who says ABBA, Jay Z and Led Zeppelin can’t be on the same playlist?
Give virtual happy hours a try, even if you think you’ll dislike (or outright hate) them. Like me, you’ll probably end up loving them, and may decide to keep them on your social calendar even after life finally gets back to normal.
Anne Catambay leads Clarizen’s corporate marketing initiatives and holds more than 20 years of leadership experience in Silicon Valley. Prior to joining Clarizen in 2014, Anne led marketing programs at Badgeville that helped catapult the company into a leadership position in a new market category. Anne has also held senior roles in partner marketing at VMware and Keynote Systems, and saw both companies through their highly successful IPOs. She holds an MBA from Santa Clara University.