Tips for throwing an office Christmas party while employees are working remotely

How will we remember a year that many would like to forget? Despite the evident negativity that many will associate with 2020, the year will undoubtedly be seen in history as one of the more notable of the current era.

Tips for throwing an office Christmas party while employees are working remotely

How will we remember a year that many would like to forget? Despite the evident negativity that many will associate with 2020, the year will undoubtedly be seen in history as one of the more notable of the current era. COVID-19 has reformulated the world massively over a short period of time-with millions of us suddenly going from a traditional 9-5 to a hybridised working from home model, and many more experiencing restrictions on travel and leisure. 

Despite being more than three quarters of the way through the year, we’re still yet to completely see the effects of COVID on our lives. Now approaching the holiday period, questions still remain as to what a COVID-tinged Christmas will really look like. For example, will we be able to visit friends and family or go Christmas shopping? For businesses however, one of their main concerns will be how to sign off the year without the traditional office Christmas party. 

A staple of the British office-the Christmas party has long been held up as a way to celebrate the achievements of the preceding year by allowing employees to socialise in a relaxed environment. Given the challenging economic circumstances of the year, many companies will be considering simply cancelling their parties. However, when we consider the benefits that a Christmas party brings to a business, this could prove to be a hasty decision. 

Not only can a well-organised Christmas party act as a motivational force, they also often provide the opportunity for employees to build up a rapport with each other that might not be possible within the normal workplace environment. By engaging with each other outside of the office setting, employees of different levels can interact as people, and the resulting dynamic that’s then created can help to boost productivity over the long term. For example, they might be able to work better as a team when needed, finding it easier to empathise with each other and share workloads in times of stress. 

However, given the restrictions that we’re facing in day-to-day life as a result of the pandemic, it’s clear that the Christmas party in its traditional form won’t be able to take place this year. But if anything, it’s more important than ever to give employees that opportunity to connect outside of the work setting-especially given the lack of social interaction we’ve experienced due to home working. Recent hires may never have even seen their colleagues in real life, let alone had a casual chat with them.

So, let’s take a look at how your business can celebrate the end of the year in the COVID era:

Listen to your employees

The Christmas party is a way of celebrating the achievements of your company, and both thanking and rewarding your employees for their hard work over the past year. While most business leaders are very good at remembering the first part, sometimes the second is overlooked. Your party should aim to serve the tastes and needs of your employees, especially seeing as it’s a way of thanking them! As a result, it’s best to avoid being overly hierarchical in your organisation. 

Chat with some of your employees, and ask them about how they’d like to mark the end of the year-there’s no point in planning a 16-round Zoom company quiz if most of your employees don’t want to do it!

For our HubbleHQ Christmas party, we have a planning committee of volunteers heading up the organisation. We do this with all of our social events, as having different people volunteer each time helps spread the load between employees, and also ensures that everyone’s tastes are taken into account-rather than the activities becoming too niche or exclusive.  

Don’t attempt to skirt around the regulations

This should go without saying, but it’s imperative that you do all that you can to remain on the right side of the law. While the guidance is always changing, and it can be difficult to stay on top of things, you should do all that you can to make sure that you’re completely informed. You can check the official Government Coronavirus website to view the latest legislation.

Not only does running afoul of the law put you at risk of a criminal record and heavy financial penalties, you could also end up alienating your employees and risking serious reputational damage. 

Embracing technological alternatives

Just as video conferencing services such as PowWowNow, Teams or Zoom have provided technological replacements to physical office meetings or chats, they can also be used to bring people together for workplace festivities. No longer being limited by social distancing rules, a technological solution can be a great way to bring together everyone in your business. 

There are loads of innovative businesses out there offering unique and fun options-for instance, Encore was nominated for Pivot of the Year as they went from finding live musicians for your event to offering a variety of music-related gifts and workshops online, many of which are perfect for a Christmas celebration. Hirespace are also hosting the biggest virtual company Christmas party ever, and Feedr are now doing Christmas dinner home deliveries.

Alternatively, if you’d like to keep it in-house, you could organise some virtual gingerbread decorating, festive games, or a virtual Secret Santa. Maybe you could send all of your employees a hamper filled with Christmas treats to enjoy all together. Instead of an afternoon or evening full of Zoom calls, perhaps you decide to spread out the celebrations over the course of a week or two. There are lots of options available-they may just require a little extra creativity and forward-planning.

2020 and the Coronavirus pandemic has placed much stress on the collective mind of the nation. Not only this, but it has also heavily changed the way that we live our day-to-day lives, placing restrictions on our movement and leisure. As a result, many companies have abandoned their plans to celebrate the end of the year as they traditionally would. However, this doesn’t need to be the case, and by listening to your employees and embracing technology, you can put COVID to the side, and round off the year in style.

Tushar Agarwal
Tushar Agarwal

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