‘Tis the season and once again office workers around the world are wondering how to host their Christmas parties virtually. WIth vaccines now widely available and many offices making plans to reopen, the “new normal” from the last 2 years is coming to an end. 

At the same time, many people are still working from home or working remotely, and some companies are looking to make WFH a part of their work culture long-term. This means it’s time for us to answer two important questions:

  1. Will 2021 be the last year for virtual christmas parties?

And

  1. How will companies maintain their office culture with a mix of in-person and remote workers?

As we get closer to Christmas, let’s explore where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going when it comes to hosting the all important office Christmas party.

Looking back at 2020 – the all-virtual office party

Earlier this year, we looked at how companies around the world celebrated their office Christmas parties virtually, and what lessons we could learn from these celebrations. From this we discovered that the biggest barrier to a successful party was the feeling of “forced fun” – meaning the parties were often mandatory work events, and the organisers made no effort to entice employees to attend. 

Another key component was structuring the event so that there was always something for attendees to be doing – after all, you can’t just have everyone in your office trying to talk over each other in the one zoom call! 

Segmenting the event into smaller groups that people could move between, or organizing activities and games to keep people interacting, were great ways to keep spirits high and everyone having fun.

Lastly, just because the event itself is held virtually, doesn’t mean that everything needs to be online-only. Sending out small gift bags to attendees is a great way to add a little extra to your event, and adds a nice physical touch to an otherwise wholly digital event.

Our tips for virtual Christmas parties:

  1. Sending party packs to people working remotely
  2. Holding the event during work hours / at a suitable time for people working from different time zones
  3. Segment your event into multiple parts, so that people can pick and choose which ones they attend

2021 – mixing it up with online and in-person office parties

This year brings a new wrinkle. After settling into the “new normal” of all-virtual events, we have the opportunity to actually hold in-person events! The widespread rollout of vaccines and the easing of restrictions means that many offices are open once more. 

However, not everyone is racing back to the office, and rather than a return to the “old normal” of pre-covid life, we find ourselves in a mix of old and new – in person and virtual working environments.

In such a situation, maintaining strong office culture is paramount in keeping both employee morale and productivity high. So how do you make your in-office and remote workers feel like part of the same team? At this time of year, there’s no better opportunity than the office Christmas party.

The first option is to simply hold a traditional, in-person event and invite your remote employees as well as in-office workers. Unlike the usual office party though, it would be best to hold this event outside the office. Remote workers might feel out of place if you have the party at the office, and in-office workers who are more comfortable with the environment might stay together in their own clique rather than mingling.

Holding the event outside the office in a neutral space promotes inter-team mingling, and helps ensure everyone is comfortable. It’s also a great way to make sure you have enough space for everyone if your office still faces restrictions on the number of people you can have in the building!

The second option is to have a mixed in-office and virtual event. This is a bit trickier to coordinate, and relies on many of the concepts we looked at previously to be successful. However, it may also lead to a higher turnout amongst remote employees compared to a fully in-person event.

A good idea for mixed events is to bring in a guest speaker or party host to run the event. This person can help keep the party running smoothly, and better interact with both in-office and remote attendees throughout the event so no-one feels left out.

Our tips for mixed Christmas parties:

  1. Hold the event in a neutral space if going all in-person
  2. Use a party host to keep everyone interacting throughout the event
  3. Keep your in-person attendees gathered in one area so that remote attendees can feel involved and part of the team

2022 – the end of virtual events?

With all this said and done, what will the future hold for office Christmas parties? Will we still be having virtual events and connecting with our co-workers via a zoom call at the end of 2022? Or will we be back to in-person partying only?

It’s hard to know what the future holds, especially in these (still) unprecedented times. All we know is that it’s always a good idea to be prepared for anything that might happen. Maybe the world will return to the old ways or maybe it won’t, but you need to be prepared to adapt and seize the opportunities that the new year brings.

Whether it’s running your office, your own business or a virtual Christmas party, the best way to ensure success is a strong internet connection. With no data caps, no slow downs and 24/7 technical support, RISE enterprise internet plans keep your in-office and remote teams connected 100%. Find out more at rise.ph/enterprise and make the connection today.