A Very Merry (and Socially-Distanced) Accusoft Holiday Party
The holiday season has always been a big event for the Accusoft team. It’s a great opportunity to bring the entire team together to celebrate the season and reflect on what we accomplished over the previous year. Since a few of our team members are located outside of Florida, we’ve even arranged to have them fly in for the holidays so they can participate.
Unfortunately, COVID 19 restrictions made it impossible for us to hold an in-person holiday party this year. Rather than simply shrugging our shoulders and cancelling the festivities, we tasked our “Event Ninjas” team with creating a virtual holiday event that could live up to those of previous years.
“Our holiday party is the most popular event we hold during the year,” said HR generalist Alissa Waters. “It was important for us to find a way to keep that tradition alive while still respecting the COVID guidelines we put in place as a company to protect our employees.”
The Accusoft Event Ninjas team consists of volunteers from every department within the company and meets once a week to plan various employee activities and events throughout the year. While the team is no stranger to planning a holiday party, this year posed significant challenges.
“The big challenge was figuring out how to incorporate that holiday feeling without meeting in person,” said Dawn Girard, marketing and events coordinator and Event Ninja member. “We didn’t want it to feel like just another virtual meeting.”
After some initial conversations, the team decided to incorporate as many longstanding holiday traditions as possible in order to give the event more familiarity. They couldn’t lean entirely upon precedent, however. This year would be the very first holiday party for a number of employees who joined the Accusoft family in 2020. The Event Ninjas team knew they would have to go the extra mile to make the virtual party as inclusive as possible and be an occasion nobody would want to miss.
Virtual Gift Package
Luckily, there was one tradition that could help get everyone in a festive mood. At previous parties, employees typically received a holiday card and a special ornament to commemorate the year. Since there would be no in-person event this year, they had to be mailed instead. That created an opportunity to get everyone in the holiday spirit by sending a special gift package that included a gift card and a packet of hot chocolate.
Why hot chocolate? The idea was that everyone could make themselves a piping hot cup to enjoy during the holiday party. “We wanted to provide a sense of being together even if we couldn’t be there in-person,” Alissa explained.
All I Want for Christmas is…an Ugly Sweater(?)
If there’s one thing the Event Ninjas team learned after nearly a year of online meetings, it’s that any successful virtual event begins with a clear plan and a strong theme. The last thing they wanted to see was a bunch of faces staring blankly at their screen like they were waiting to discuss the latest marketing numbers (which, of course, is a very exciting conversation topic). They knew the party would need a compelling visual theme that would encourage everyone to tune in and get involved.
And what could possibly be more compelling than ugly holiday sweaters?
Everyone was encouraged to break out their most ghastly holiday apparel and prepare to cast their virtual votes for which sweater was a true “Nightmare Before Christmas.” The theme had everyone buzzing ahead of the event, which was just what the Event Ninjas team hoped for.
When the big day arrived, nearly the entire company logged into a “crowded” virtual meeting room to celebrate the occasion. Amazingly, the server didn’t immediately crash when confronted with so many ugly holiday sweaters all at one time! After taking in all the sweaters on display, everyone settled in with their hot chocolate to go over some of the highlights from one of the most unusual years in memory.
Life didn’t stop completely during the COVID 19 pandemic. Several Accusoft team members experienced personal milestones in 2020, including getting married, becoming a parent, buying a home, or getting a pet. The first portion of the holiday party was dedicated to these moments and to sharing work-related memories.
One of the most noteworthy events for the company was senior software engineer John Reynolds receiving a patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office. It was his third patent awarded during his time at Accusoft, a testament to our continued emphasis on innovation. We couldn’t be happier for John and are eager to see what he has in store next.
“We always want the holiday party to be a celebration of our employees,” Alissa said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to recognize the people who make Accusoft successful.”
After the team shared their best memories and milestones for the year, Accusoft CEO Jack Berlin took the virtual mic to present a record number of distinguished service awards for the company. This year saw an unprecedented number of work anniversaries, with 22 people celebrating at least five years with Accusoft.
- Five Year Anniversary Award: 10 recipients
- Ten Year Anniversary Award: 6 recipients
- FIfteen Year Anniversary Award: 3 recipients
- Twenty Year Anniversary Award: 3 recipients
When discussions about the virtual holiday party began, Alissa knew they had to make this section the centerpiece of the event: “It’s really important that we take the time to focus on these special employees. We want people to know that the company supports them and cares about them.”
And the Winner Is…
One popular portion of the holiday party that made a surprisingly smooth transition to a virtual context was the gift raffle. In years past, of course, the raffle was held in person and usually involved a long process of drawing names and having people walk up to the front of the room to receive their gift.
This year, the raffle turned out to be a fast and furious event thanks to the use of a virtual prize wheel that was preloaded with the names of raffle participants. Rather than dealing with multiple drawings, the Event Ninjas team could move from prize to prize with the click of a button and easily spin the wheel to randomly select a winner. It was fast, easy, and exciting. In fact, the team is even considering using the prize wheel for the next in-person holiday event!
After weeks/months of careful planning, our 2020 virtual holiday event went off without a hitch. While we’re looking forward to a return to in-person gatherings at some point in the next year, it’s good to know that our resourceful Event Ninjas team is more than up to the challenge of arranging a successful company-wide virtual event.
More importantly, we’re glad we could provide a platform for recognizing the success of our employees after this challenging year. Even though we were unable to gather in person, we were still able to celebrate everything that the Accusoft family has accomplished together. We’re looking forward to accomplishing even more in 2021.