Before Covid19 shut everything down, the office played a central role in the lives of most adults around the world. For many of us our office life was our social life, our coworkers were our closest friends, and everyone was looking forward to after work drinks* on a Friday night. 

Without that small celebration to end the work week, life in isolation can quickly blur into one long, arduous and repetitive (not to mention lonely) cycle. If you’re missing the joy of catching up with your coworkers for a few cheeky beverages, here’s how we are keeping the spark alive with a virtual happy hour.

*After work drinks can be non-alcoholic.

Set the event early in the week

Everyone likes having something to look forward to! When work life and home life look near exactly the same, having a specific event to plan towards can help keep people motivated and upbeat.

A good happy hour is an inclusive event, so try to invite more coworkers rather than less. Don’t worry too much about having too many people, as final attendance is likely to be lower than expected based on who accepts the invite.

If you do have a whole bunch of people show up – say more than 20 – you can set up multiple virtual “rooms”, and have people rotate between rooms every 20 minutes. This way, attendees can have multiple conversations, rather than being drowned out in one crowded chatroom.

Pick a few talking points

Like any successful meeting, it’s important to have an agenda. Although not a formal requirement, having a few talking points ready to kick start the conversation can help make it easier for everyone to relax and get into the flow of things.

Sharing these talking points prior to the event itself can also ensure the tone of the conversation stays appropriate. While it is not strictly a work event, it’s work adjacent. After all, you do have to work with these people again on Monday!

It can also help to have a few things that are off limits – like not talking about the pandemic unless there is something very important. It’s a happy hour, not doom and gloom drinking, so try to avoid topics that bring the mood down.

Don’t make it mandatory

Nothing takes the “happy” out of “happy hour” faster than being forced to attend. While after work drinks can be an important part of team bonding and a great way to keep everyone in high spirits, mandatory attendance will just have your coworkers constantly checking their watches.

You want to foster a light hearted and easy going atmosphere – an attitude that encourages people to relax and enjoy themselves. If someone doesn’t want to be there, or wants to leave early, let them. Your event will be a lot more enjoyable with people who want to be there than it would with people who don’t.

1 hour only

It’s a happy hour, not a happy night. A couple drinks can be a great way to take the edge of a stressful situation, but a few too many can turn things sour. By keeping your virtual happy hour to just 1 hour, it’s less likely for people to get bored or lose interest in attending future events.

Running a virtual happy hour is a great way to boost moods, lighten loads, and provide a silver lining to the covid cloud. Having a positive outlook is as important as having some form of social interaction with our fellow human beings, and laughter truly is the best medicine.