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7 Alternatives to The Annual Company Picnic

showing a sample picnic
What can you do if the company picnic isn’t possible this year?

It’s often a right of passage for many companies — The annual summer company picnic! In the age of a pandemic and restrictions on social gatherings, most companies are eliminating the company picnic for 2020.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t create some camaraderie with your employees and do something to celebrate and reward them. Below are seven ideas you can implement as an alternative to the traditional physical on-site picnic:

1. A virtual group picnic — Many of us have been using Zoom, GoToMeeting or Facebook Rooms for both professional and personal endeavors. Now’s the time to take that knowledge to host an all-company virtual picnic. On a specific date and time, invite your employees to join the virtual celebration and “picnic” together as you all have lunch at the same time.

To encourage interaction and fun, do things like a raffle or gift card giveaway where you enter all employee names into a hat or bin and someone calls out winners drawn randomly throughout the event. Instead of coming to a stage to collect a prize, the winner is either mailed the item, sent a digital gift card via email or receives a coupon or voucher for future use.

2. Recipe swap/online photo album — If you can’t bring your famous seven layer dip or signature chocolate chip cookies to share with others, how about sharing the recipes and photos? Using something as simple as Google Drive or DropBox, encourage people to upload their favorite picnic recipes from years past along with photos for others to try on their own. Then, once you try someone else’s recipe, post your own photos and review to keep the interaction going!

3. Treat your employees to a take out picnic at home — If you can’t all get together for a picnic, bring a picnic to your employees. Load them up with a credit from something like Door Dash or Uber Eats to have their favorite local meal delivered to the house and they can dine on their own patio or lawn to enjoy a picnic on the company!

4. If allowed, investigate a tailgating picnic supporting local business — Local regulations are changing constantly when it comes to congregating in parks, parking lots and public spaces. If your municipality allows, look at maybe encouraging people to pack their own picnic (no shared dishes) and pull up to a parking lot, pop open the tailgate and chairs and enjoy from a 6-foot distance with their co-workers. This minimal-contact option allows team members to see each other without getting to close. Investigate if maybe as a company you provide bottled/canned drinks or individual desserts purchased from a local market or store that people take from a staged area one at a time.

5. Drive-in concert or movie — As an alternative to a picnic, how about a drive-in movie or music? Cities have successfully allowed people to use a parking lot or open space to either listen to music or show a film on an improvised wall or pop up screen. It’s not going to be a traditional picnic, but again, hosting something in appreciation of your staff will be well received.

6. A company-wide volunteer activity — So many of us are struggling to find ways to help others in this time of great need. Consider gathering your employees that are able to do so for a volunteer activity, such as sorting goods at a Food Bank, helping with a food distribution event or providing cards of encouragement to local seniors isolated at nursing homes and care centers.

7. Home craft surprise packages — Online shopping tools such as Amazon and Walmart.com have tons of choices when it comes to DIY crafts and activities for the whole family. Consider sending employees surprise packages of craft activities they can do at home, then encourage them to share pictures through a private Facebook/Instagram page, email chat group or shared Google drive. Let that creativity fly!

Even though there are real physical limitations in place right now, it doesn’t mean your team needs to feel isolated from each other. Activities such as these can keep those connections strong and build a sense of community within the workplace.