Socializing at work is not a new idea. Still, in recent years, especially with an estimated 35% of workers who can perform their jobs from home, social events have played a more critical role than ever before. In addition to catering to the remote and hybrid workforce, socializing at work has been proven to boost worker satisfaction, productivity, and team culture.
Some of the benefits of integrating social activities into the workday are:
- Increased communication
- Leaders demonstrating that they value their employees
- Increased camaraderie
- Bonds between coworkers can lead to greater collaboration in the office
- Higher satisfaction at work
- Less burnout and negative feelings
Whether you’re a pro at hosting the monthly office party or are recently implementing changes in the workplace, we’ve got 25 great ideas to help kick off your next social event in the workplace.
1. Classic cocktail party
A cocktail party is one of the most common office socializing events because it is easy and accessible. Hosting a cocktail party is a great way to break up a long work week and reward employees for their hard work. Team leaders can provide drinks and snacks and set up the party in a break room or third space. The other option is renting out a space if your office isn’t big enough (or nonexistent).
If there are remote employees, consider getting a projector screen and having them turn in via Zoom to say hello and participate in the gathering. There are various kits available for remote employees that you can budget. Those tuning in online will appreciate feeling included and more connected socially.
2. Live music
Keep a close listen for employees talking about what music they like. Perhaps there’s a band coming to town that everyone wants, and you can surprise them with tickets. Or, Keep an eye out for live music nights at the local pub.
Watching music is a great way to socialize; music is mood-boosting and relaxing. Coworkers can bond over their love of a specific band or spend a night dancing to a local jazz trio they just discovered.
3. Fundraising event
While a fundraising event is not wholly dedicated to socializing, it can be done in tandem with having fun! Consider hosting a fundraiser for your company (if applicable) or for a local charity that everyone on the team wants to support!
Activities that would make an excellent platform for a fundraiser are:
- Open house/cocktail party
- Spirit week
- Casino night
- Talent show
People will feel motivated to attend and feel connected. You can ensure a successful fundraiser by prioritizing employee social connections and connecting to the broader community.
4. Volunteer together
Coming together to make a positive difference in the world is a beautiful way to strengthen social bonds, professionally and personally. Choosing a charity or organization you want to support together as a team will boost employee morale and let employees know their team leaders are focused on the bigger picture.
Some ways that volunteering can help bring people together:
- Allows people to get to know one another
- Encourages empathy
- It is a natural team-building activity
- Nurtures employee interests
Volunteering motivates people to get out there and share themselves with the world, and in professional settings, it is an excellent way to implement a caring and connected workforce.
5. Talent show
Talent shows aren’t just entertaining but also perfect conversation starters! You may have sat next to someone for years and never knew they had a fantastic singing voice and could play the guitar like a rockstar.
Talent Shows require open space and minimal equipment (depending on what will be performed), so they can be hosted in the office on a Friday afternoon. Designate a couple of hours to showcase the office talent and then unwind with refreshments at a local restaurant.
Remember, not everyone will be comfortable performing, so before you host the show, get a list of people who want to show off their talents and ensure no one feels pressured.
6. Team Trivia
Trivia is a great team game that can be played with small to large teams, making it an inclusive and dynamic game that lets everyone get involved. Designate someone in the office to host the tournament, announce questions and categories, and then have everyone break into groups of 5-10. If you’re a smaller team, try seeking a trivia night at a local pub and play together as one company team!
If you’re opting for the DIY trivia version, here are some trivia question ideas to get the ball rolling.
7. Virtual Team Trivia
Link-in-person trivia and virtual trivia still get those brain muscles working and encourage coworkers to work together to show off who’s got the most knowledge (useless or not!) in their collective heads.
Virtual trivia can be played over Zoom, Google Meet, or whatever type of software your team uses to connect to get on a group call. You can hire an external company to plan and host the trivia, or break into groups and choose someone to be the trivia master, with team members recording their answers in a private chat and submitting them at the end of each round.
8. Cooking class
Not everyone at your office has to be an amateur chef to enjoy this activity.
Getting together to take a cooking class is a great way to bond as a team and encourages:
Teams must budget for a class and let a professional organization do the rest. Because cooking classes are so popular, numerous organizations take care of all the details and arrange the ingredients, so you just need to show up and throw your chef's hat on and have fun!
9. Scavenger hunt
Group activities can get chaotic sometimes, especially when planning something everyone is interested in (or capable of doing).
A Scavenger Hunt is a simple group activity that requires teamwork and can be done at whatever pace is comfortable for individual players. Hire an external company to plan the details, or if you have the time, designate someone from the office to set one up, DIY style. Split coworkers into teams and send them off for a day of working together, finding clues, and ultimately having fun.
10. Award ceremony
Hosting an event that focuses on honoring your employees' hard work is a great way to boost morale in the workplace while having a bit of light-hearted fun.
Make this a budget-friendly event by making your own awards to hand out and consider (budget permitting), getting a few gift cards and extra benefits to give each awardee.
Categories to consider for the award ceremony:
- Most talkative
- Cutest pet
- Most positive in the morning
- Drinks the most coffee
- Always ready to help
Those categories give you an idea of some playful points you can consider when making awards for your employees. While topics can remain lighthearted, employees will feel valued and appreciated.
11. Wellness retreat
Planning an employee activity in the office or nearby is often easier. Still, it’s been shown that employees really benefit from stepping out of the office and going away together on a mini (or big!) retreat. Go for a massage, a sauna, or a day of various treatments with the whole team.
The idea of taking a wellness retreat is less about freshening up the mind to make room for more work-related productivity. Still, instead, it’s a dedicated opportunity to give your team some relaxation.
12. Game night
Grab a handful of your favorite games (anything from cards and board games to trivia and charade games) and get the team together for an evening of play.
Some of the best games for group and team engagement are:
Those are just a few classic games to get you started. The best way to choose what you want to play as a team is to do a quick poll in the office and find out what the whole team wants to play.
13. Go for a hike!
There is nothing like a breath of fresh air to get your mind in a more relaxed state. Gathering the whole team for a hike is ideal for spending time together in a beautiful, low-pressure setting.
If your office happens to be in an urban setting, or your team is hybrid or even fully remote, integrate a hike into your next company retreat! Getting outside is great for mental health and will create a space for relaxation and spontaneous interaction, thus bringing the team closer together.
14. Play a pickup game
Find a local sports team or friend that offers pick-up games. You don’t have to be part of a dedicated team to go out into the field and join in for soccer or basketball when you can.
Do your research and find out whether or not there’s a local team in your area. Find a public park or sports field to make your teams if you have a large group. You never know. Maybe your team will be so into it you’ll form your league!
15. Casino night
One of the most popular work events, a Casino night, includes games, dressing up, and socializing. Usually done in the evening (to get that authentic casino atmosphere), set aside a Friday evening and transform your office into a glamorous venue.
Some of the most popular games played at casino nights are:
- Texas Holden (poker)
Plenty of companies host office casino nights, so if you don’t have the space or time to plan a proper shindig, consider hiring someone to do all the planning so you can focus on socializing!
16. Fancy dress
Dressing up isn’t just for Halloween! Designating a time to tap into your inner child and have a social event encouraging employees to wear their favorite or wildest outfit is a great way to let loose and bring people together.
Some events that could also encourage fancy dress are:
- Casino night
- Cocktail party
- Talent show
That being said, there doesn’t have to be a specific theme. Grab some DIY decor and snacks for a mid-afternoon party, and let the costumes do the talking!
17. Movie night/day
An all-time favorite, movie nights or afternoons (whatever works with your schedule) are purely social events that can be followed by dinner and drinks after the show.
Set up an office cinema with comfy chairs and popcorn for a half-day Friday movie, or take advantage of a must-see movie in the cinema (Barbie, anyone?) and get the whole team together for a trip to the movies.
18. Escape room
There’s a reason escape rooms have become increasingly popular as a team social event. Number one, it includes problem-solving, teamwork, and socializing. Number two, it’s relatively hands-off as another organization provides the setup and game.
Because there’s little planning involved on the team's end (you just need to make sure you pick a day where everyone can participate), even managers can get the day off just to enjoy.
19. Bring your pet to work day
Everyone loves to look at pictures of pets, so why not take it a step further and have your team bring their pets to work? It’s possible not everyone can get their pet to work (cats might not like being in a crate all day), but for those with dogs or highly socialized animals, it’s an excellent way for employees to get to know one another, bonding over their furry friends.
20. Laser tag/Paintball
Like escape rooms, laser tag or paintball is a low-stress way to take the team out for social bonding. Gather the whole office together and rent out a space for the day or half the day, going out for drinks afterward.
Game centers will likely have one or both games if you’re in an urban setting or a suburb near a city. Both laser tag and paintball require groups to team up and encourage everyone to work together and strategize to achieve a common goal, such as getting the most points or capturing the opposite team's flag.
21. Adventure park
Spending the day at the adventure park combines physical activity, problem-solving, and collaboration while having fun and a good laugh.
Most adventure parks offer a wide range of activities suitable for most teams, small or large.
The most common activities include:
- Trust falls
- Rope mazes
- Zip lining
- Obstacle courses
Team leaders can find a course with a professional staff to help map out a perfect day of team activities while ensuring everyone is prepared and safe.
Like hiking, organizing a team camping trip is an effective way to spend time in the great outdoors and let your team focus on bonding. Make sure you have someone, either a local guide or an easily accessible camp group, to ensure everyone is comfortable and safe while camping.
Set aside a weekend, ideally Saturday to Sunday, where you can set up camp, go for a small hike, or swim in a nearby pond or lake, followed by fireside chats and dinner.
Go-karting is ideal for the adrenaline junkies in the office and helps pull those shy out of their shells! Most cities and towns have a go-kart rink, often with a bar that serves food and drinks for decompressing after the races.
Coworkers can zip around the rink for fun or team up and race one another for a little friendly competition. All in all, go-karting isn’t conducive to work chat (it’s pretty loud!), so it’s a great way to prioritize socializing outside of work.
24. Bike tour
Call up your local bicycle tour company and plan a day trip on bikes for the whole team. If you’re in the country or city, professional bike guides will consider your team’s general skill level and make sure they plan a day suitable for everyone.
If anyone on your team isn’t comfortable cycling, set up a meeting point at the end so you can join together for a post-ride drink and chat.
25. Company retreat
Last but certainly not least! Organize a company retreat. The ideal way to bring together the whole team, whether remote or not, is to choose an outside location for coworkers to gather and spend meaningful time together.
Some of the main benefits of company retreats are:
- Increased collaboration
- A natural setting for team-building
- Letting employees feel valued
- Better work/life balance
- A chance for employees to recharge
- Opportunity to focus on skill development
- A major boost to company morale
Companies that host regular retreats often have more satisfied and cohesive teams, as team members have had the opportunity to get to know one another outside of the office.
Don't forget to plan!
From corporate events to intimate game nights, regular socializing at work makes all the difference. Before dedicating time to activities, plan your event so everything runs smoothly and ensure a successful social event that you can do for weeks, months, or years to come.
When it comes to planning, the Surf Office can help you organize a retreat that caters to your team's specific needs. For example, If you’re looking for a combination of professional and outdoor activities that encourage team building, the Surf Office is here to help with all logistics. Suppose you’re hoping for a balance of activities that boost work productivity, like hosting a hackathon. In that case, the Surf Office team can help you organize your event and recommend a social activity to follow, like dinner or an afternoon sailing trip, to wind down from the day and bond with team members.
Company retreats are essential to building a happy, balanced, social workplace, but they must be well-planned so teams can make the most of their time together and focus on connections outside the workplace.