Beyond Virtual Happy Hours

The start of 2020 was amazing. We had clients reserving dates for the Spring, Summer and Fall. We started to think about some new technology and unique challenges to incorporate into our proven offerings. We even began the process of hiring that social media expert we had discussed for years. Everything was on the upswing for our customized team building company; Magnified Events. And then Covid-19 hit the United States.

After the initial shock and sadness at the loss of life and livelihoods, we realized that the in-person business we had worked so hard to establish was going to struggle in the new environment. As a business with the mission of bringing large groups of people together in major cities, we did not see how we would continue. As the owner and founder,  I was crushed. I contemplated more traditional ways to earn money, which is a difficult step for a person with a true entrepreneurial spirit. I thought I had to give up my company and my dreams.

However, after speaking with my partner, we both realized this was our time to look at this situation through a new lense. We had an opportunity to redesign our business in a way that would address our clients’ and prospects’ new challenges. And we had a big advantage – everything we had learned from our original business model. We understood the value of connection, we understood how to make experiences for groups unique, we understood how to compile and customize information to reinforce a theme or to accomplish a goal, we knew how to design challenges that were fun, and we understood the value of analytics and feedback.  We were uniquely positioned to work with companies to make their virtual programs more impactful, fun, and interactive. How? We would use technology for impact but not rely on it for connection.

Time to pivot!  We took all of our experience and outlined what we knew would be important key components in this new virtual world. Those relationship nuances that occur organically when going to an actual office had to be redesigned to occur virtually. Our overall goals for our clients remain the same: create connections, establish/strengthen relationships, provide fun, and reinforce company culture. So we decided to focus on the following:

Teams – Grouping participants into teams to provide an instant connection. Teams create smaller groups within a large group with everyone working together towards the same goal. Teams provide opportunities for non-work discussions and leaders to emerge. The importance of teams is the same virtually or in-person.

Challenges – Creating fun ways to engage participants by offering a wide range of challenges that can be done virtually together or that can be self-directed. Being an active team member shows commitment and creates situations for people to stand out and show individuality. The person who has a fun attitude and works hard to earn team points will be remembered and admired by his/her teammates.

Technology – Using technology for impact, but not using it as the only way for people to feel connected. We have expertise in the latest video conferencing and messaging apps and will continue to evolve as the offerings change. 

Structure – Creating a structure without office walls. Rather than ‘one off’ virtual activities, our goal is to implement them with a plan. Relationships are strengthened over time and multiple interactions allow for a better assimilation of company culture, messaging, and themes. 

Competition – Making it competitive. Let’s face it, everyone is a bit more motivated when they know they can win something or when they know others are depending on them. The friendly, fun competition we add to our programs provides an incentive that can only lead to better participation, effort and, ultimately, connections.

Kick off and Wrap up – Setting a tone. Our original model taught us that creating an environment that encourages participation is vital. Finding that balance between fun and learning is an art which we have honed over the past 5 years. Also, a plan to conclude each program is another opportunity to reinforce themes and culture. A highlight video is one of the fun ways we wrap up our programs. Teams love to see what other teams have been doing!

In addition to these key components, we have designed a unique method for gathering data and feedback, which is even more critical now in evaluating the success and impact of these programs. Working with our clients, we find out what is important to understand, and we use our expertise to gather and report back the data they desire.

What once felt like an end to our business now feels like a time to forge a new path. Taking what we have learned and merging it with the creative use of technology, gives us the direction we need to move forward. Although unfortunate world events have resulted in a major change in how companies function, we are well-positioned to help them achieve their unchanging goal of building culture and connections.  


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