New ways to celebrate at the office, without an office
June 8, 2020 7:34 PM   Subscribe

My colleague is going on maternity leave soon, and we're all working from home. How do we replace the personalization of the group card and well-wishes we had at the office?

My colleague "Sam" is the person at our office who organizes all the social events for retirements, birthdays, babies, etc. We usually pass around a card that every one signs personalized messages on, and people can pitch in for a gift of some sort by leaving cash in an envelope. It's a low-tech solution with a personalized touch, and the $ contribution is somewhat anonymized (you sign the card whether or not you contribute $).

Sam is a wonderful human, and I know it would be meaningful to her if we could send her off with something personalized from friends around the office. A generic "from all of us" just doesn't have the same spirit. I'm also feeling awkward about asking for $ contributions, because I don't want to put people on the spot -- an etransfer doesn't have the same anonymous ease. (Plus, I supervise some of these folks.)

We are all working remotely due to the pandemic, and any solutions that would require a physical-world component are a no-go (no parade drive-bys). Passing around a card to sign is no longer an option, and the group e-card products don't look very promising. My colleagues run the gamut of tech-literacy, so whatever I do, it needs to be easy to participate in.

Would love to hear what others are doing in similar circumstances. Thanks in advance!
posted by tamarack to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We have a guy at work who's real handy with a video editor and enjoys supporting camaraderie. What we've been doing is filming real quick clips with well wishes and sending them to him. He cobbles them together into one big vid and sends them to the celebrant.

If you have someone like that at work, or maybe someone has a teenager who is skilled and bored, these vids have been a great thing for us.
posted by phunniemee at 7:41 PM on June 8, 2020

We celebrated someone's work milestone a few weeks ago by hand-writing notes on a piece of paper, taking a picture of that, and having someone edit those into a large card. They designed a cover and included photos of the people we were celebrating. Then the card was delivered by either mail or courier, we asked the print shop to help coordinate and they were happy to do it.
posted by third word on a random page at 8:16 PM on June 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

We recently had each manager write one word and take a selfie holding up that word.
Then someone put the sentence together and emailed everyone.
It didn’t take very long and there was still a little bit of room for some creativity by anyone so inclined. One person needs to make the assignments and put it together but that’s about it...

It was something like:

(Thank you)
(For all )
(You do!!)
posted by calgirl at 8:28 PM on June 8, 2020 [5 favorites]

My office is big on celebrations, especially work anniversaries. I've seen the following work well recently:
- The office admin team has provided a slide deck template for celebrating work anniversaries, and everyone writes a message on blank slides (replacing the paper version we did in the beforetimes)
- In a variation on the above, a special slide deck with photos and stories highlighting someone's journey over many years at the company, compiled by their closest coworkers and with everyone else writing messages on blank slides
- This tool where you can select an image and write a message to create a "wall of kudos" type thing: (there may be others, this is just the one someone else sent me to sign, it was reasonably easy to use and doesn't seem to have spammed me since)

And of course a good old-fashioned Slack thread is nice, too, if Slack or a similar all-company communication tool is available to you.
posted by rhiannonstone at 8:51 PM on June 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

This week I was invited to contribute to a video project. The home page shows that they are currently offering some products for free. It was easy to set it up for people to participate, according to the coordinator. It was a snap for me to take a video with my phone and share it.
posted by toastedbeagle at 9:12 PM on June 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Next week I’m buying a coworker lunch (she’ll order it and I’ll repay her via Venmo) and we invited a few other folks to join us for a Zoom lunch. So could you buy her food delivery — like wouldn’t it be fun to have a cupcake delivered to her house?
posted by bluedaisy at 10:59 PM on June 8, 2020

This is very goofy and would very much depend on your dynamics, but for one colleague's birthday, another colleague made a photocollage of that colleague and her interests with a silly poem - it was extremely sweet and silly - and I snuck it in at the end of a scrum and screenshare among our team, where it delighted the birthday girl and was low-key well-received by everyone else. As well as the gentle embarrassment of being celebrated by your team, I think it allowed us to recreate the element of surprise you get on arriving to their desk with a cake or something.

I think we'd do photos of people holding up signs/notes for a larger celebration, and if you have a team or group that get along socially, the lunch idea sounds lovely.
posted by carbide at 3:06 AM on June 9, 2020

Recently for a colleague our co-op student (who has graphic design skills) designed a few slides in powerpoint where we could type in a few words. She put it on onedrive so everyone could edit it without there being a billion versions to cobble together. Our admin bought some gifts and had them delivered to his house (I'm not sure who paid for them because I don't remember a virtual passing of the envelope where we could contribute $). At our weekly unit phone meeting, our manager said a few words and emailed the card to everyone.
posted by foxjacket at 6:28 AM on June 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

My office uses Kudobord to create digital cards.
posted by willnot at 6:44 AM on June 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

When a similar situation arose at my workplace, my supervisor assigned a coworker to be in charge of the money collection. This way whether or not you donated would not affect the boss/employee relationship. The coworker chosen was a non-gossipy/non-judgmental person.

A shared google slide was used in place of the physical card for us to sign, and it was digitally shared with the celebrant but also printed and mailed.
posted by rakaidan at 7:09 AM on June 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These are all wonderful ideas! Thank you so much for sharing.
posted by tamarack at 8:05 AM on June 9, 2020

We have been using GroupGreeting to do virtual group cards for birthdays and so on, if you don't have the time to orchestrate something more elaborate, it's a nice easy solution and it's worked well for us!
posted by greenish at 9:27 AM on June 10, 2020

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