We’re back! Not without changes, a little trepidation, and accommodations made for continued safety… but after a long and trying year, we are back.

And, if there was ever cause for celebration, this must be it.

Of course, things may not look quite the same in every workplace and celebrating our return will look different for each business, but welcoming back some sense of normalcy is important. Even for businesses that saw little change over the past year.

So, how will you celebrate our return and welcome your employees back?

Welcome Employees Back with Parties, Picnics & Virtual Events Planned Just for the Occasion

It’s been a year. Quite a year. And, whether your business changed dramatically, or barely at all… most of your employees likely saw major disruptions to their daily routines.

Acknowledging this disruption and our return to a more typical schedule is an important milestone to mark. So, what can you do to help usher in all this togetherness coming our way?

First, realize and maybe acknowledge that this isn’t a celebratory time for everyone. Many are dealing with losses, some still have a difficult time finding childcare and eldercare, and others may still feel at risk in indoor settings.

Flexibility is crucial and understanding where the majority of your employees fall may dictate what type of celebration you plan.

Let’s take a look at some options.

Simple On-Location Events Your welcome back celebration can span a day or an entire week. And, it can be something as simple as snacks delivered to each worker’s desk or work station or therapy animals greeting them in the lobby. Here are a few other ideas: Catered Meals There’s nothing new and surprising about catering meals at work, but after a year at home with fewer options and lots of home-cooked meals, people will certainly appreciate being catered to. Greet them back with a breakfast buffet or have lunch catered each day. This is a huge transition for many workers and anything that makes their lives easier during this transition will be appreciated. In-Office Spa Services Ahhhh… nothing says welcome back like a spa day at the office. Those first days back will be stressful as everyone tries to figure out what to do with kids whose schedules aren’t yet back to normal and the new pandemic puppy they adopted. Imagine how much more relaxed people will be after their in-office massage or after a spin in a massage chair rented for that first week back. Yoga flows and meditation rooms will also be a welcome treat during those early days back in the office.   Special Swag Delivery In preparation for the first day back, consider sending employees a new swag welcome pack. Include items they might need at the office like a water bottle, mug, or a branded face mask. As I mentioned before, not everyone will feel comfortable going without a mask. And, honestly, after the year we just had, maybe we need to encourage folks to mask up even for the sniffles. When it comes to germs, sharing is NOT caring.

Make Virtual Celebrations Special

Hybrid and full-time remote offices can welcome their workers back even if their work routine hasn’t changed much. Acknowledge the end of restrictions with a gift box filled with treats and branded swag.

Everyone likes to be recognized and have special effort noticed. And, maintaining productivity during the past year most certainly required special effort.


Extravagant Off-Premises Events

From picnics to festivals you can plan events to celebrate the people who make your company run.

Informal Events

Include workers and their families in a festival atmosphere with picnic-style dining and activities that can range from inflatable play structures to a full-on carnival with rides and games of chance.

Of course, this isn’t the type of event that’s held the first day back in the office, but it can be announced in advance giving everyone something to look forward to.

Don’t let the informal nature of the event fool you into thinking there isn’t a lot of planning involved. Depending on the size of your company and the extravagance of your plans, an informal outdoor event can require tremendous effort to find, organize, and manage a venue, caterer, and entertainment.

The benefits that result from bringing employees and their families together for a festive celebration makes this option worth the effort.

Formal Events

A formal dinner, cocktail party, or gala will also present organizational challenges. While entertaining children isn’t typically one of them, on-sight childcare is a great idea if you want to encourage attendance.

Formal dinners and cocktail parties are suitable for just about any crowd size, while by their nature, galas tend to work best with a larger invitation list.

Regardless of the format of your event, give yourself plenty of lead time. I’ve stressed this frequently in my emails, but this is so important now with the number of vendors and venues that are no longer serving the events industry.

And, as I predicted, this industry is swinging back in a strong way. If you want to reserve a large venue, now is the time to do it.

Strengthen Employee-Business Bonds with a Corporate Retreat

As businesses try to regroup after, what for some, are severe workforce disruptions, a company retreat will work to rebuild employee bonds and help focus attention on the future.

While there should be elements of fun included, a retreat is about employee interaction, planning, setting goals, and forming bonds. That doesn’t mean you won’t be in the market for talent – speakers, DJs, bands, and other entertainment.

Getting the full benefit out of a retreat takes careful planning to achieve just the right balance between work and play… between serious and seriously fun.

Organizing large corporate retreats is among my specialties. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re curious what this might involve.

Aurice Guyton

Author Aurice Guyton

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