Home for the Holidays: InterWorks’ First Virtual Holiday Party

Culture

Home for the Holidays: InterWorks’ First Virtual Holiday Party

It has truly been a year like no other, which means that our team has risen to a completely new level when it comes to meeting others’ needs and caring for those in our community, whether clients, partners or our fellow InterWorkers. When it came to planning for our annual Summit and Holiday Party, our team’s creativity knew no bounds. You’ve already seen what we did with our Summer Tour, but how do you bring the quality time, frivolity and shenanigans synonymous with your Holiday Party to a virtual setting? It’s not easy, but it can be done. In fact, it was done. And these are the individuals who made it happen.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Q: What was it like capitalizing on the Summer Tour success while also taking it up a notch?

Brandi White, Global Director of Employee Experience

When we first started talking about a virtual holiday party and actually cancelling (gasp!) the reservations for our in-person holiday venue, we assumed it would be near-impossible to capture the magic of an InterWorks Holiday Party remotely. But the Summer Tour really woke us up to the fact that the MAGIC IS IN THE PEOPLE NOT THE PLACE. We realized we can take the “fun” from the Summer Tour and build on that.

Brittany Dunn, Partner Marketing Manager 

The Summer Tour really continued to open our eyes that our PEOPLE are what make our events – even in person – amazing. We can make a room pretty all day. We can schedule sessions and outside speakers. We can throw the most amazing planned internal events and parties, but our people are what take it to that next level.

Chelsie Wilson, Manager of Payroll, Benefits and Employee Experience

I truly think this virtual Holiday Party was able to be successful thanks to the Virtual Summit in June – August. We basically got to take the fun culture sessions from Summit and turn them into a three-day holiday party of fun! Also, with the Summit being the icebreaker of getting all the employees together virtually, I feel as if employees already felt comfortable in interacting with other colleagues around the globe. This allowed for us to jump right in and have fun!

Kelsey Lee, Manager of Talent Development and Outreach

Although I really missed having everyone in the same place for the Holiday Party, I thought the change of pace for the virtual event went over really well! It was nice to just get together for fun things and nothing work related! I’ve said this before and I will share again, when you have so much fun with your coworkers, the planning of the event is really worth every minute of it! We started planning right after the Summer Tour, so I’m pretty sure we were riding that excitement high.

The Summer Tour really continued to open our eyes that our people are what make our events – even in person – amazing … We can throw the most amazing planned internal events and parties, but our people are what take it to that next level.

Q: What were some of your favorite moments from the Holiday Party?

BW: The United Nations of InterWorks holiday traditions sessions was just such a special moment. I learned so much, and I felt like it was such a great reflection of us as global company. The fact that folks shared really personal family traditions, culture, history. All of it. Oh! And the music! People actually recorded themselves performing and let us play that for the whole company?? How brave! Best people.

BD: Music was so fun! I think I love that most of the sessions were run by InterWorks employees. We had one outside presenter (which was amazing, too) but the rest of the sessions were put together by InterWorks employees. Behfar’s end-of-year speech is always a crowd-pleaser and a great bow tied to the end of a virtual Holiday Party week.

CW: While the Holiday Party was not anything like years past, that’s okay since 2020 was not like any other year. Going into the Holiday Party sessions, I was filled with anticipation as this was the first year we implemented all virtual events! I truly think people had fun, and we got to enjoy a few days of getting together and hanging out via Zoom. It was so fun seeing people try to live out their inner Picasso via our paint session. It revealed so many hidden artists here! I also loved the general chatter in the Holiday Party Slack channel. I always enjoy seeing coworkers chat and banter that probably wouldn’t really have a reason to connect in their day-to-day tasks. Overall, whether it was playing a virtual game of Family Feud, decorating sugar cookies or playing trivia—just seeing people interacting was my favorite memory. Being able to chat with so many coworkers at one time was refreshing, and I really enjoy when we can all come together and have some fun!

KL: I really enjoyed playing Pictionary and, of course, Behfar’s speech is always a highlight.

Q: How did you create a warm, homey Holiday Party feel for a global team working remotely?

KL: Although we couldn’t be together, we wanted everyone to feel warm and a part of the party even from their own home. The decorations and festive fare snacks were my favorite items we put into the box. We tailored those to each region:

 

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BW: Back to the people – we really like each other! And making a space for people to come together and just enjoy each other’s company is all the “creating” we had to do, after all was said and done.

BD: The planning team worked their tails off! Every decision made, we thought about who it could impact. We have such a great thoughtful group. When curating the Holiday Party boxes, sessions, whatever we were doing, the people of InterWorks are who we were doing it for. I agree with Brandi: our people like each other, and they really grabbed onto all those little special things the team put together for them. It’s always fun to see people enjoy the work we put in!

CW: During our planning stage, we really took about two to three meetings before we figured out our sessions and the direction we wanted to go in. Brainstorming how the holidays make us feel and the things we have done with our own families around the holidays were able to be highlighted. We also knew we would all be at home around our computers to participate in these sessions, so I believe that is how we came up with the “Home for the Holidays” theme. It was fun to bring our idea to life, and we wanted to make sure we can keep the IW culture alive while implementing our ideas. It truly was the employees that made it feel warm and homey. If we didn’t have buy-in from our employees to participate the way they did, this party could have been a total bust! I appreciate our employees in always being so engaged!

Survey Says? Best Team Around

Q: Any surprises or employee feedback from the experience?

KL: Before the party, I didn’t have high expectations for the painting session; however, I was blown away by the talent and fun everyone had during this session!

BW: I was completely floored that so. many. people. participated in things like painting and cookie decorating. Who knew??

BD: Blaine Stephens decorated cookies and painted a canvas … enough said 😉 But really – it was so fun to see our kiddos be involved in some family-focused sessions across the globe. We had some people stay up way late to attend sessions and others get up early (or stay up all night) to attend another. Our whole team, globally, is just made up of amazing people.

CW: I seriously did not know we had so many artists at IW! I think we need to do a virtual paint night more often! Skylark’s moon was amazing, James Keel was terrific, and so many other people painted a winter landscape so beautifully!

Q: Any bonus tidbits you want to share 😊

BW: Just an inside scoop: the planning and coordinating and hosting of Family Feud was unexpectedly difficult. Shout out to Scott Matlock and Kirsten and Blaine for just being such good sports (and Scott painstakingly finding all those questions)! But survey says: it was hysterically fun!

KL: I’m honored to work with my coworkers, and the chatter that Behfar’s speech stirred up about giving back really showcases who we all are and what great people we have here.

BD: We won’t be doing Family Feud in an hour and a half again! That was definitely a whole team effort. Even Amanda, who just joined the team, went through all the logistics of getting people in the right brackets/breakout rooms/Eventbrite items. There were so, so, so many things that went into that session alone, and it would not have happened without some crucial people coming together.

Other than that, it honestly comes down to the people. People from all parts of the company and all parts of the world come together in a virtual format to have fun. Some people have never met. Some are quiet and get to break out of their shell during a game of Pictionary or trivia. Those that are more outgoing tend to be the ones to break others out of their shell. InterWorks really is a place where all people can be comfortable with who they are. We’re all here to have fun and make it through this crazy year. I really believe InterWorks is one of the only companies around that can make that happen.

Above: The end-of-year video put together to celebrate all we accomplished in 2020

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