56 (mostly virtual) ideas to promote fun and relieve stress at work

56 (mostly virtual) ideas to promote fun and relieve stress at work
Image: Photo: Shutterstock/Lyubov Levitskaya
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The past year and a half has given rise to loads of virtual happy hours and remote Donut meetings. But there’s much more that a company can do to help employees unwind.

We asked the 54 small, medium, and large-size employers on Quartz’s inaugural list of the Best Companies for Remote Workers about the activities they sponsor to relieve workday stress and promote fun. Here is a compendium of their best answers, organized by activity type or purpose.

Remote socializing

  • Book clubs
  • Movie clubs
  • Movie nights
  • Holiday gift exchanges
  • Murder mystery games
  • Online gaming breaks
  • Virtual campfires
  • Virtual escape rooms
  • Volunteer projects
  • Weekly music quiz
  • Weekly “coffee with the CEO” casual get-togethers
  • Weekly pairings with a buddy to chat for 30 minutes about anything they’d like
  • Weekly pairings with a buddy for a virtual walking (i.e. phone) meeting
  • Virtual dinner party (employees order takeout and are randomized into groups of five to six people to socialize with over dinner)

Remote entertainment

  • Comedy shows
  • Magic shows
  • March Madness/fantasy football pools
  • Mentalists
  • Tarot readings
  • Virtual Bingo
  • Virtual talent shows

Online classes

  • Art lessons
  • Cocktail making
  • Cooking
  • Wine tasting
  • Origami
  • Shibori tie-dying
  • A TED Talks-style presentation series
  • A skills swap (employees offer to teach a colleague a non-work talent such as sewing, making pasta, or playing guitar)

Physical gatherings

  • Guided walking tours
  • Annual Julefrokost (a Danish Christmas lunch)
  • AirBnb experiences
  • Silent raves
  • Annual company conference on a Caribbean cruise (the agenda is split between company updates and relaxation away from work, but all of it is company paid, and no time off is used)


  • Friendly cross-team competitions like a step challenge, costume contests, or cutest pet photos
  • Running/fitness challenges
  • Trivia nights
  • “Guess whose pantry” (everyone submits a photo of their pantry; each day a new photo is selected and whoever correctly guesses the pantry’s owner first wins.)
  • A moderated Slack channel with a joke of the day (with monthly prizes for the best jokes and most creative riddle answers)


  • A five-week, virtual well-being series with group yoga and drawing sessions
  • Free books offered to all employees and their significant others
  • Monthly “family and friends day”—a company-wide shutdown one Friday per month
  • Modern Health membership
  • Access to apps such as Headspace and Ginger
  • Quarterly mental health newsletter with reminders of employee resources
  • Mindfulness and meditation sessions
  • Yoga classes
  • Bodyweight bootcamp classes
  • Resilience workshops/trainings
  • Lunch and learns about mental health and fitness topics

Special delivery

  • Kits sent out for making things like pizza at home
  • Celebrations of company milestones with charcuterie boards that are sent to all employees in advance and enjoyed at a Zoom party
  • Trivia contests (winners get breakfast delivered at home)
  • Oculus VR headset sent to all new employees as part of onboarding

Time and money

  • Monthly rest days (company-wide day off)
  • Monthly focus days (no internal meetings)
  • Birthday bonuses
  • Year-end discretionary bonuses for achieving goals or reaching tenure milestones with the company