You might laugh, but there’s a reason why one of the cardinal points of many companies’ employee appreciation programs is free food. Not only are you taking the time and expense to show your staff that their contributions are valuable, but you’re also encouraging them to socialize and build healthy friendships with their coworkers.

But what happens to the break room happy hour when you can’t safely host it in person anymore? Recognizing the efforts of staff not only helps with productivity and motivation, but it also keeps them, well, happy.

The Dreaded Office Zoom Call

Especially now, as spirits are low and schedules are sparse office-wide due to social distancing, it’s incredibly important to show staff appreciation through any means possible. It’s a good thing that a full-sensory virtual wine tasting can do just that! By providing your employees with a virtual wine, cocktail, or chocolate tasting, you’ll be giving them the space to unwind from their long day of work while proving to them that you truly are thankful for them and what they bring to your company (and here are the benefits of a virtual tasting on an individual level. Trust us, your staff will love you).

Not only do virtual wine tastings offer a chance to show your staff recognition for all their hard work, but they also create a space for team-building and socializing.

We all miss the pre- and post-work chats about the newest Netflix shows, the debates about Marvel versus DC, the shared adorable pet photos. And as it turns out, research shows that employee socialization leads to both a higher quality of office life and culture as well as strong, productive teamwork; those who engage in conversations that aren’t work related are more likely to work better in teams. During a virtual tasting, your employees will be encouraged to vocalize their opinions on what they’re tasting, feeling, smelling, hearing, and seeing from their unique points of view— this fostering of conversation will encourage your staff to come together in novel, remarkable ways.

Team-Building Activities: Excitement or eye-roll?

A lot of the time, the announced phrase “team-building time!” is more of a subject of eye rolls than it is excitement. It’s getting harder to be original when it comes to these team-building activities. If there’s any office in the world that hasn’t done the Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower Challenge, hats off to you. While the Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower Challenge (hitherto referred to as the MSTC, because that sure is a mouthful) is a fantastic team-building exercise, there are only so many spaghetti towers you can build with various groups of four within the workplace before it becomes boring and ineffective. A full-sensory virtual tasting uses the elements of surprise and excitement to cultivate relationships between coworkers in a manner that’s just as fun and stimulating, but without the cliché and competition.

It’s also important to host team-building activities outside the office setting as well, as this allows for bonding to happen organically, without the added pressure of the end goal of productivity.

What makes your employees amazing is the very fact that they are human, not machines.

Giving them the time to wind down during a virtual wine tasting will not only help them recharge, but also stimulate the senses to further their creativity within and outside of the workplace (for more on how the five senses are intertwined with creativity, here’s an amazing research study!). During one of our corporate tastings, we had the pleasure of hosting Pinterest and their marketing partner, 360i. Though the teams from these two companies were in constant communication with one another, they had only met once before in person and hadn’t spent much time in a room together. Following our full-sensory music, wine, and chocolate tasting (featuring wines from Angeleno Wines and chocolates from Xocolatl), members from both teams expressed gratitude for the experience, mentioning that though they often see one another over Zoom, the calls are work-related 99% of the time.

“This was so, so much needed,” remarked a member of the 360i team.

Since it’s been hard to find the space for those conversations over Zoom, a full-sensory virtual wine and music tasting is the perfect place for your team members to bond over a shared love of Merlot, dark chocolate, and the Pentatonix.

Let’s face it: Virtual Wine Tastings are a fantastic way to engage teams during social distancing! By engaging with all five senses in a tasting alongside their coworkers, your staff will both learn more about one another as well as create new, shared memories to look back on once we all (hopefully soon!) return to the office. And it’ll make that transition back into office life all the easier.

Scoot over, MSTC— virtual wine tastings are the new team-building activity.

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