A woman sits at a small round table and uses a thin paintbrush to apply paint to a square canvas. The canvas is held on a small wooden easel that sits on top of the table, next to an open laptop, a palette spread with a few different colors of paint, and three tubes of paint.
Some studios offer live painting classes online, allowing your employees to follow along and create their own masterpieces from home. — Getty Images/Natalia Gdovskaia

Most business owners understand the benefits of having employees complete job-specific online courses. However, providing the opportunity for your employees to participate in non–work-related virtual classes is a great investment into the culture, success, and growth of your company.

Aside from learning a new skill or finding a new hobby, employees can engage with their coworkers outside of general workday tasks, which can lead to more sincere employee relationships, in turn boosting collaboration and communication amongst your team members.

Additional benefits of providing non-work classes include:

  • Better knowledge retention by working together.
  • Team accountability and the feeling of contributing to a larger whole.
  • Improved morale.
  • Increased loyalty, which leads to less employee turnover.
  • Higher productivity levels from engaged employees.

[Read more: How to Build Trust Within Your Company]

Non-work virtual classes to take as a team

Yoga

Help employees find their center by hosting a virtual yoga event. In addition to learning about breathing and meditation, this class is a great way to get low-impact exercise in the art of stretching. All you need is an optional yoga mat or towel.

Painting

The same studios that offer in-person paint nights may also offer virtual experiences to take advantage of. Ship out paint kits stocked with a canvas, brushes, watercolor or acrylic paints, and anything additional your employees might need for the class. Participants can follow along as an instructor guides them through their painting of choice. At the end of the session, employees can reveal their masterpieces to one another.

Inspire green thumbs by hosting a class for employees to learn about succulents and plant their own.

Cooking

Let food bring everyone together by hiring an online chef for a live instruction, a follow-along cooking course, or a specialty cooking class for dishes like homemade sushi rolls. If you’re worried about the cost of ingredients, allow employees to take turns sharing a favorite recipe, perhaps from their culture, and talking through the process, then showing off the finished product.

Book club/literature review

Have your employees exercise their brains by hosting a book club or literature review. This activity is appropriate for any season and can be recurring, especially if your team is reading a few chapters or a series or simply discussing literary themes. The only cost associated here is the book. This could also be the gateway to creating a healthy debate team.

Planting

Inspire green thumbs by hosting a class for employees to learn about succulents and plant their own. With kits complete with a ceramic pot, soil, toppings, plants, and more, your employees can arrange their own planters and showcase them on their desks.

If you are kicking off the start of a season, send your employees an array of flowers and ask an instructor to teach employees how to prune and care for the plants. This class could be seen as a team-building exercise and a gift all in one.

Mixology/coffee pouring

Incorporate a new take on work happy hours by holding a mixology class. Send packaged ingredients ahead of the class so participants can mix up their very own cocktail through virtual instruction. Once the drinks are made, employees can hang out and enjoy their creations together. This idea would also be great for coffee enthusiasts looking to make seasonal lattes or other coffee drinks.

Baking/confectionery class

Satisfy sweet tooths with a class focused on desserts. You can deliver specialty items for baking like chocolate melts, molds, cake mixes, and more ahead of the virtual class. Next, ask participants to get their own “typical” kitchen ingredients ahead of time such as oil, baking powder, and butter (but offer to cover any associated costs). This may be a great opportunity for a friendly competition by having employees vote on who created the coolest dessert.

Arts and crafts

Get the creative juices flowing by offering some type of art class with a hands-on aspect. Treat your employees to a calligraphy instruction they can follow along with or an arts and crafts activity. If you are looking for a virtual class without added supply costs, consider a writing workshop for a short story, poem, or even children’s book.

[Read more: Managing From Home? Here's How to Keep Your Team Engaged During Coronavirus]

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Published December 15, 2022