Office holiday gatherings, whether virtual or face-to-face, are back this year

People either love or hate office holiday gatherings. Almost everyone hates virtual office holiday parties. When we entered the second pandemic holiday, both types of activities aimed at celebrating employees and humanizing bosses were back. But they may be different from what you remember.

This year, virtual gatherings are still going on, although fortunately, the company has learned some lessons about what employees will bear from some of the lessons of last year. After the interruption last year, with the increase in vaccination rates and social needs, live gatherings are making a comeback, although these activities will also be more restrained. We also see the rise of the third category: no parties at all. Instead of tepid meals, bad DJs, and awkward interactions with colleagues, some companies have turned to gifts, money, or extra breaks. One company even plans to take a collective trip to paradise-of course, if you are cynical, you can think of this as a never-ending office holiday party.

It is worth noting that there is no so-called mixed holiday party in the company’s plan this year. Some guests attend in person and some guests attend online. It turns out that none of this works. It is difficult to program in a way that satisfies both parties, so most companies have given up trying.

Which party you attend or skip depends largely on your specific company, industry, and region. But one thing is clear: As we know, the pandemic has a lasting effect on holiday parties.

Virtual celebration, sequel

For many companies, this will be the second year of virtual holiday parties. Don’t despair! They should be better or at least shorter than 2020.

Last year, many companies made a mistake that everyone makes when converting something into a virtual environment: they try to get close to real-world events. For some people, this means that Zoom calls will last for several hours, including everything from games to music to speeches-holding a drink in a bar or unique event space is more tolerable than on the sofa at home all of these.

“In terms of the amount of things happening online, they are almost too nervous,” Tal Brodsky, director of product marketing and business development Flourish, A workplace culture market that helps companies organize holiday parties, told Recode.

“I think this year, most companies are focusing on short and sweet but impactful things online,” Brodsky said, who estimated that 60-70% of holiday parties on Thriver this year will be virtual.

This year, at the media database company Muck Rack, a magician and psychologist Kobe Elie Miller Will have to understand the ideas of some remote employees. The virtual event includes a food and alcohol allowance of $60, a toast, and will end in one and a half hours.

Facebook is shrinking a lot of time. After organizing a 6,000-person holiday party for its New York office at Pier 94 in 2019, including a DJ, two Mister Softee trucks and thousands of waffles for guests to use, the company Decided to hold a virtual variety show in the second year.Employees will watch the performances of Broadway musicians and actors and donate them to Broadway Care.

Many virtual holiday parties this year include a box of food, drink mixes or crafts, which are sent to employees in advance and assembled with the help of instructors during the Zoom event. Compared to last year, these events are usually held in smaller groups, and any company-wide parts have been shortened.

Courtesy: Chocolate noise

Chocolate noise, A craft chocolate event company, sent attendees multiple bars of chocolate and tea and wine pairings, and then guided them to taste chocolate online. The company’s founder Megan Giller (Megan Giller) provided virtual events before the pandemic, but said they didn’t become popular with corporate customers until last year.

Miller said: “We really think of each as a good wine or cheese, where we talk about the origin of the beans, how the chocolate is made and what people taste at these particular bars.” Book about chocolate, Judges the chocolate competition and teaches people “how to taste like an expert”.

Although Miller prefers to hold wine tastings in smaller groups, the proliferation of virtual company holiday parties means she must learn how to organize these events for more than 100 people at once. In addition to some chocolate sommeliers, you also need to include an emcee to make the event go smoothly.

This year, Thriver’s popular activities include watercolor holiday card making, mint mocha and cocktail sets, and Christmas Murder Mystery.

Images from the Thriver website provide top holiday activities, including wreath workshops, Christmas Murder Mysteries, and mocha coffee making.

Courtesy: flourish

Amanda Ma, Chief Experience Officer of Los Angeles Event Experience Agency Innovation Marketing Group, Usually hosting large-scale events for large corporate customers (such as YouTube and TikTok) and large banks. Before the pandemic, she said she would “build the entire experience, touching the five senses, from food to entertainment to the things they touch and feel.” This year, 90% of the holiday parties she participated in were virtual. Nevertheless, she is still doing her best to provide guests with a multi-sensory experience at home.

“The typical food and wine are from last year,” Ma said. “Everyone’s expectations are higher this year, because they now have virtual time for nearly two years.”

Popular activities among her clients this year include making deli plates, learning calligraphy and making holiday wreaths. In general, Ma said she just saw more ideas for this year’s event because they have more time to plan, and most companies will solve problems at the last minute this summer instead of last year. She also pointed out that virtual events are cheaper than face-to-face events and can save 30% to 50% of costs.

The return of the IRL holiday party

For many companies, 2021 marks the return of office holiday parties, but the scale, venue, and timing have all changed.The company-especially Executives After many employees have worked from home for nearly two years, their operators are keen to get people back to the office. The bosses see face-to-face holiday parties as a way to relax people. This is also a way to introduce new colleagues who may never have worked in person.

In general, this year’s events are smaller than before. This is achieved by prohibiting pluses, breaking down by teams, or holding multi-day parties.

For corporate customers who hosted 1,500 festival celebrations before the pandemic, Wire experience design Instead, three independent events with two different concepts were organized in New York. The company’s unwilling customers also held a series of events at the Central Park Zoo earlier this year, so guests can be outside.

“The format is under the microscope,” Alexa Jensen, Tinsel’s creative production director, told Recode.

In general, the company is more considerate of the location and time of holiday parties. They choose venues with outdoor space, and sometimes move their activities to fall or spring to take advantage of the warm weather. They must also be more flexible in handling all aspects of their activities.

“It’s no longer just plan B, it’s raining plan,” Jason said. “It’s like, plan B is if another delta appears-I don’t want to express it in words-what plan B, C, D are.”

This means planning for possible last-minute venue changes. Thriver said that companies that host face-to-face events often choose to host events in their own offices rather than in external locations, so they can better control security.

Happy hours for holiday lunches or early risers have also increased, instead of evening gatherings.

“I think people just cherish their time more,” Rosa Hardesty, knowledge consultant Human Resource Management Association, Said. She added that although most of the gatherings she heard were face-to-face, they placed less burden on staff time. “Maybe they realize this and let us do it during the day when the employer pays wages and celebrates them, so they can go home and reunite with their families.”

However, apart from the scale, time and location, these events do not seem to be much different from the past. There are catering services, bartenders and music. However, the number of external suppliers and the vaccination requirements of these suppliers are also limited. Many employees themselves must present proof of vaccination in advance, although some companies provide Covid-19 tests at events.

Some companies are doing completely different things

The pandemic has also encouraged companies to completely reconsider the premise of holiday gatherings. Perhaps because they think they can make better use of their holiday party budget, some companies are looking for more innovative ways to support their employees, whether it’s with colleagues or family.

Public Relations Company VSC The office party is being replaced — and the office they abandoned in the summer of 2020 — for a company-wide trip to Hawaii. In early December, about 50 employees will travel to Oahu for a five-day trip, where they will zip, surf and hang out on the beach.

“When we have face-to-face events, they should be social,” said Vijay Chattha, the company’s founder, “instead of sitting in front of a laptop and sending emails.”

According to Hardesty of the Human Resource Management Association, extra vacations, gift cards and other benefits are also becoming popular alternatives to holiday parties. She said that if the focus of work is to support the family, the company will begin to accept this idea, and they should let you spend more time with them. Recode’s parent company, Vox Media, again avoided holiday parties this year, even though many teams are hosting their own small face-to-face events. Vox.com also provides employees with a full week of vacation.

Although they may hold virtual gatherings at the end of the year, some companies also offer more intimate face-to-face events for smaller groups, which are more like team building events than holiday parties. These include yoga classes, cooking classes, and even escape rooms.

However, although there are more and more alternatives to holiday parties, event planners are at least optimistic about the strong return of holiday parties in real life. This year is a bit of a test.

“Everyone is cheering up again. I don’t think anyone is trying to challenge this possibility right now,” Tinsel’s Jensen said. “We are very happy to return to the scene, see all the familiar faces, and see everything come to life again.”

She added: “I think 2022 will be crazy. I’m already corset.”

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