Our Best Virtual Happy Hours

Our Best Virtual Happy Hours
  • Before the pandemic, we took our Thursday Happy Hours very seriously. We are fortunate to have an amazing team with diverse backgrounds. To give everyone an opportunity to share their interests, in the past we asked two people to pick a theme and host Happy Hour at our NYC headquarters each week. Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the South of France (think Pastis, rosé, charcuterie and good bread), K-Pop (think music blasting while drinking Soju cocktails and eating fried chicken), and many more!

  • ”South of France” themed Happy hour hosted by 2 French team members on the roof of our NYC office
  • But when COVID hit in March of 2020, we transformed overnight into a 100% remote company. The question arose: would our Thursday Happy Hours survive working from home? At first, we tried to simply meet online at the same time. The first few virtual happy hours were terribly awkward because you can’t have breakout conversations (like in-person) so 30 people were vaguely trying to have a conversation, but really the call was mostly long silences followed by 4 people trying to start a topic at the same time and speaking over each other. So we paused.

  • Typical well-intentioned but messy and awkward Happy Hour
  • For a few months, we had bigger priorities given the context, but once our activity got back to pre-COVID level in July 2020, people started to mention that they really missed the Happy Hours, so we decided to figure out a way to bring it back (and make it less awkward).

    Here is what worked for us:

    • Every week, 2 people co-host the happy hour (we tried with one host, but it’s honestly too much pressure and much less fun)

    • The HH is prepared around a theme (see more below) and usually has a support material (it can be a slideshow or software)

    • The invite is sent to the whole team on Thursday morning with any prep information

    After more than 30 themed virtual happy hours and many fun moments, we wanted to share our top 8!

  • #1 - A March Madness Tournament of Grumpy-looking animals

    • Concept: the host aggregates 16 photos of grumpy animals. During the call, each participant votes for every showdown (usually there is a healthy amount of debate before any vote)

    • Support/platform: a shared presentation deck with 16 photos that you can easily bring up next to each other and a tracker for the winner of each round (a developer hosted this - so we had a pretty great competition table)

  • The March Madness-style table and the winner in our contest: Grumpy Hedgehog
  • #2 - Pictionary

    Team intro: People have probably been playing some form of Pictionary since they found out in Lascaux that you could depict horses on the walls of caves and people would look at it and say, “Oh, yeah, I know what that is.”

    • Concept: someone in happy hour is selected at random and given a word to draw on screen. For a couple of minutes, other participants guess in real time the word or phrase that the person is trying to represent.

    • Support/platform: we used the widely-popular skribbl.io, but added our own special touch with a custom list of terms that apply to our time at Superbolt, especially during the COVID pandemic. Some hilarious drawings we’ll always remember? “Working from bed”, “maskne” and “laptop crash”

  • #3 - Siblings or dating?

    • Concept: the hosts compile several photos of couples that could be siblings or dating. The goal is to guess which one they are. For each picture, participants try to reach a consensus. After a few minutes of discussion, the hosts reveal the answer.

    • Support/platform: a slide deck with photos from the internet and the Instagram account @siblingsordating, sometimes providing further clues and organized in order of difficulty

  • #4 - BYOM (Bring Your Own Meme)

    • Concept: every participant is asked to share their favorite meme and present it to the rest of the participants. You can make it a competition by having people vote, but you don’t have to. We chose to laugh along and crown an unofficial winner.

    • Support/platform: a simple shared presentation deck where people can add their meme

  • #5 - Spelling Bee

    Team intro: The Scripps National Spelling Bee was canceled in 2020 due to the ongoing concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus and uncertainty around when public gatherings will be advisable, so we brought the fun to Superbolt instead.

    • Concept: The hosts build a diverse list of words and ask participants to spell the words on a piece of paper during the call. Participants have thirty seconds to try to spell the word before holding their paper up to the screen. Winners can be chosen by total tally or elimination each round. We added an extra layer of fun to our spelling bee by including words that came directly from our client’s product detail pages.

    • Support/platform: a slide deck with a timer and official pronunciation guides for the words

  • #6 - International Music Festival

    • Concept: The hosts picked ten songs from a wide variety of countries and asked happy hour participants to guess which language was being sung. It’s a geography spin on the classic music trivia blind test, and works well with diverse teams!

    • Support/platform: a YouTube or Spotify playlist to share on the video call

  • #7 - Movie Quiz

    • Concept: Participants are split into teams to play movie trivia. In our case, we split by managing partner, which upped the stakes. It was the perfect occasion to show off our newly-acquired quarantine movie knowledge.

    • Support/platform: this super easy-to-use website that creates a trivia board with well-known movie quotes

  • #8 - Geoguessr

    • Concept: Geoguessr is a geography game which takes you on a journey around the world and challenges your ability to recognize your surroundings. You select a region - United States, Famous Places, World - and are dropped into a fixed street view. Using clues in the picture, you try to guess your location. Since we have many different nationalities represented at Superbolt, we thought we’d have a good chance at winning.

    • Support/platform: we played on the Geoguessr site, which is free and easy to use in video calls.

  • Bonus - Beat the Bot

    This theme was entirely the creation of our data team and would be hard to replicate without them, but we loved it so much we want to tell you about it anyways.

    Our data team was given access to the beta version of GPT-3, an artificial intelligence bot built by OpenAI. Since the bot has been trained on the internet, its knowledge base is huge, but we hoped that Superbolt’s collective knowledge would be able to beat the bot!

    • Concept: our two happy hour co-hosts created a list of 15 general trivia questions ranging in topics from “What is the world’s longest river?” to “What was Britney Spears’ first song?”. Then, during happy hour we asked both the bot and the team the same questions. All participants in happy hour could discuss to find a consensus. We did not beat the bot, but it only won by one question!

    • Support/platform: the data team built a dashboard to translate between the bot and us!

  • Amongst the many adjustments imposed by COVID, we were amazed and amused by our team’s Happy Hour creativity, which transformed our virtual rendez-vous from mildly uncomfortable into the highlight of our weeks. We hope this list provides some fresh and fun ideas for your own virtual company or friend gatherings.

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