Unfortunately, hosting staff lunches has become increasingly difficult as more and more workers choose (or are forced) to work remotely. But this doesn’t mean that there’s no hope for companies that employ remote workers. It simply requires them to get creative.
One of the most creative events to become more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic is the virtual lunch. And with CoffeePals, a Microsoft Teams app that makes it easy to connect your staff and give them an online place to build relationships, it’s never been easier to host virtual lunches.
In this brief virtual lunch guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about virtual lunches, from what they are to how to conduct one. By the end, you should be fully equipped to host a great virtual lunch for your team. So, let’s get started.
What is a Virtual Lunch?
A virtual lunch is an online event that takes advantage of video conferencing software to give team members the opportunity to connect, collaborate, or learn while sharing a meal. Like the food eaten at them, virtual lunches come in a variety of options and flavors, from lunch and learn events to team building virtual lunches.
Since virtual lunches are held wholly online, they’re easy to host. The only real challenge you’ll face when planning your virtual team lunch is deciding how you want to address the issue of food. Other than that, it’s a simple process that you can perform within minutes.
How Do You Do a Virtual Lunch?
When planning your next virtual lunch, it’s a good idea to follow these simple steps…
1. Decide on a Virtual Lunch Topic & Format
Before you think about food, platforms, or dates, you need to determine what your business or organization needs. What’s the goal of your virtual team lunch? Until you have clarity on the event’s purpose, you’ll struggle to know how to plan for it.
So, spend some time thinking about what your team needs the most. Are there topics that they need to learn about? Is your greatest need for deeper relationships and connections? Would you like to see an increase in collaboration? Do you want to give your employees more information about an upcoming product or service?
Determine your goal, then you’ll be able to come up with an effective topic to meet that goal. In addition, you’ll have a better idea regarding how to structure your virtual lunch. Depending on what you want to achieve, you may want the lunch to be focused on a single presenter. Or you may want to break the attendees up into smaller groups, so they can chat about particular topics. Or you may want to do a mix of both.
CoffeePals makes it easy to do any of the above, so you can create virtual lunches or collaborative group matching that are tailored for your needs.
2. Set a Date & Time
Once you’ve settled on a topic and format, you’ll want to set a date for your event. Since the event is online, you’ll likely have a bit more flexibility regarding when the event takes place. But you’ll still want to check your schedule (and your company’s schedule) to make sure that your virtual team lunch doesn’t conflict with any major upcoming events.
Most virtual lunches last somewhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour. That’s long enough to provide some real value and give your staff a chance to eat, but not so long that fatigue sets in. So, when setting a date and time, keep the length of the event in mind.
3. Make Arrangements for Lunch
Traditionally, team lunches were provided by a single caterer. Virtual lunches make this approach practically impossible. After all, you’ll likely have attendees who are scattered across the city - if not the country, or even the world.
So, how can you provide lunch if none of your team members are there to receive it? Several options are available to you.
You can simply offer attendees a simple stipend or reimbursement for their lunch, say $20 or $25. This way, people can choose what to order and get reimbursed afterward.
Along these same lines, you could use Hoppier to send attendees a credit card that will allow them to buy lunch without worrying about submitting a reimbursement request.
Finally, you could use a business like GrubHub to deliver food directly to your team members’ doors. It’s fast. It’s easy. And it’s almost like getting catered.
Regardless of how you do it, it is important to spend some time thinking through your lunch arrangements. After all, it is a virtual lunch. And if word gets out that you’re shortchanging the lunch part of the equation, you’ll likely face dwindling attendance in the future.
4. Send Out Invitations
Once you’ve decided on a topic, a format, a date, and lunch plans, you’re ready to send out your invitations. Make sure that you know who is attending, so no one misses out on getting fed.
5. Hold Your Virtual Team Lunch
When the day arrives, you can use CoffeePals to conduct your virtual lunch. Since CoffeePals is integrated directly into Microsoft Teams, it’s easy to get any team member who registered for it into the virtual event. And once it has begun, you’ll have the flexibility to conduct it in a way that’s best for your organization and team.
6. Follow Up
Don’t forget to follow up with your team after the virtual lunch. You may want to send out a brief questionnaire, so attendees can provide feedback. It’s a good idea to ask questions about each aspect of the event, from the way food was provided to the content presented and the format of the virtual lunch.
By following up well, you’ll be able to refine future virtual team lunches. That way, you can make every effort as effective and valuable as possible.
Virtual Lunch Topics to Consider
Choosing the right topic is 90% of creating an effective and engaging virtual lunch. If you go with a boring virtual lunch topic that none of your team members care about, it will fall flat even if the food is great.
Fortunately, you don’t have to come up with a topic on your own. We’ve put together a handful of great virtual lunch ideas for you to consider as you plan your next event. Each of these has been tested and proven to be an effective topic idea.
- A Mindfulness Seminar. American workers are more stressed out than ever. If you don’t help your employees on this front, their productivity will suffer and burnout will be the final result. That’s why you may want to consider conducting a mindfulness virtual lunch. Give your employees a great meal along with some practical tips they can use to improve their mental health and maintain a more stable, peaceful frame of mind.
- Financial Health Seminar. Money is one of the biggest sources of stress out there. By providing your employees with a financial health-focused virtual lunch, you’ll give them the tools they need to make the most of their salary and benefits - now and in the future.
- Conflict Management. Put two people together and you’re bound to get into conflict sooner or later. Add dozens of others, and the potential for problems only increases. That’s why offering your employees a virtual lunch seminar on conflict management can be a hugely influential thing for your organization. Plus, it has the potential to help your employees in their personal life as well.
- Communication Skills. In business as in life, communication is key. With a virtual lunch that’s focused on imparting communication skills, you can help your team members work more effectively together and deal with customers in healthier ways. You could even do a series of lunches that focus on developing different communication skills, from writing emails to doing public presentations.
- Productivity. Productivity is built on effective time management, perseverance, and good work habits. With a virtual lunch that targets issues of productivity, you’ll be able to empower your workers to accomplish more in less time. You may want to consider teaching them the Pomodoro Time Management Method, the rule of three, or any number of other productivity methods or skills.
- An Informal Q&A. While imparting information is a valuable way to spend a virtual lunch, you could also turn the tables and give your employees the opportunity to ask questions. By hosting a Q&A, you can find out what your team members are thinking, ensure you have clear lines of communication with them, and develop stronger relationships all around.
Virtual lunches give you the ability to connect with your team members in an enjoyable and personal way. Whether you’re wanting to inform, educate, or simply cultivate better relationships among your team members, virtual lunches are a great way to accomplish it.
CoffeePals gives you the ability to set up and host virtual lunches from within Microsoft Teams. So you can focus on planning a virtual lunch that will be valuable and memorable instead of trying to figure out the best, most versatile platform to use.
Try CoffeePals out for free today and discover the difference it can make for your next virtual lunch. Then, test out its automated connection feature to cultivate relationships between your team members and strengthen your organization even more.
Eating together isn’t just about the food. It strengthens relationships. It leads to improved mental health and offers an opportunity to chat, laugh, and simply be together. For businesses, hosting lunch can be a great way to build employee camaraderie and boost productivity.