Sick of endless Zooms? Get ready for that 2020 holiday party!
2020 has ruined pretty much everything fun and the festive season is about to fall prey to the pandemic. In a normal, “non-pandemic” year, we would be gearing up for some enjoyable festive spirit. The corporate world would be preparing to put on celebrations, whether they’re lavish gala parties, in-office events or just drinks at the local. Each year, billions of dollars are spent on corporate revelry but during the times of COVID, should we even bother?
As we’re hitting all-time high infection rates in the Northern hemisphere, it’s clear any in-person gatherings are off the cards and I doubt many people will be excited about the thought of yet another Zoom meeting. Let alone having it after hours with team members dressed up in pointless costumes.
Even pre-pandemic, people often felt attending holiday parties was like a chore and a potential liability by putting staff in awkward situations when things get boozy.
But there’s a strong argument that we should keep the 2020 holiday party. They might actually matter even more this year. Given the world events, two in three Americans said the upcoming holidays mean so much more than ever before. This year the holiday party can be something we look forward to. In the UK 89% of companies are planning virtual holiday parties according to a survey conducted by Hire Space, a venue booking site.
Holiday parties are also a great way to boost morale for team members. Tech companies are famous for jetting off their employees to glamorous retreats for offsites and they’ve been known to have a positive effect on company culture and pride. Even though there won’t be any jetsetting this year, getting people together can help instill a sense of togetherness and purpose.
Having joined a new company remotely during the pandemic, it’s been really tough to get to know coworkers. There’s no “watercooler chat” or lunchtime gossip. Any interactions with colleagues are project-related. Holiday parties are a great way to unwind and break down social barriers to get to know people outside of the stresses of the working day.
So how do we make these virtual holiday parties worthwhile, not terrible and stand out above the gloom and doom of other video calls?
Companies need to create something unique. There is a plethora of new startups being built around virtual events. Now live performances from comedians, musicians and magicians can be Zoom’d in. One company even went so far as doing a live tour of the famous European Christmas markets.
Imagine if a famous celebrity rocked up to the party, it would be a must-attend event! It’s even easier now with Cameo, you can invite celebrities like John Cleese to your video call to give a shout-out.
Alternatively, you could host team activities like wine or sake tasting, escape the room or a treasure hunt. Food and drink kits can be mailed to participants beforehand. Even pre-pandemic there was a growing trend of making team activities more immersive by building something together. Why does not being in the same physical place stop you? You could make a gingerbread house or cook a dish together to get into the holiday spirit.
Looking back over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to attend holiday parties at museums, City Halls and local pubs but this year I’ll be even more grateful if it’s just a Zoom link. Long live the holiday party!