5 tips for planning a flexible, cancellation-free Christmas party at work

The nation barely had a chance to dust off those Christmas sweaters – let alone reindeer antlers, or order bulk Prosecco – before a new strain of coronavirus hit home, causing 52% of places to be work in UK cancel their office party plans.

With government ministers warning big business is bashing can be a no-go, companies like Google and the BBC are hastily pulling the plug on major end-of-year events. Still others, such as Deloitte and PwC, are opt for smaller and departmental parties.

However, this moment of judgment is not just about stemming the spread of Omicron. It also reflects a larger problem. With 84% of UK businesses planning to have a flexible or remote workforce Post-pandemic hybrid work habits are here to stay.

This means that it’s more crucial than ever to navigate what experts call a “Organizational culture crisis”, by bringing together teleworkers and teleworkers. The office party doesn’t go away entirely – instead, like the rest of post-pandemic office life, it is evolving.

Creating an inclusive approach is therefore essential, as is a fun and flexible party structure. Here’s how to start a celebration that all of your employees can enjoy, regardless of their opinion of the mix in person.

Make an effort to include everyone in your plans

Planning a celebration that works for everyone on your team is a delicate task, even in non-COVID times. You can start by asking everyone for their opinion on what they think will work best. According to a 2018 Facebook study, employee surveys are still one of the best ways to measure engagement. They give team members a chance to be heard without embarrassing them at the end of a meeting or on a group email.

With this type of poll in place, you can read in the room where to focus most of your event (in person or virtual) – and also solicit thoughts on many other details. The survey can cover everything from favorite food to the most convenient times, whether or not to invite family members and what hygiene measures for those who want to attend an event in person (eg Aviva , ask the attendants at the Christmas party wear masks and take a COVID test).

Emphasize the role of personal choice

Personal choice is also central when it comes to this year’s hybrid party. KPMG, for example, tries to emphasize that in-person gatherings should only take place whether employees feel comfortable doing it.

The idea is that no matter what people’s preferences, they can freely participate in the celebrations without being left behind. Take the insurance company Phoenix Group, which is hosting a mix of in-person and virtual events this year, including “A hybrid evening of thanks” for all colleagues and their families.

Plan hybrid activities carefully

An event such as a chocolate making workshop or pub quiz can work very well to galvanize hybrid evenings; but you have to pay attention to the logistics.

Your virtual partygoers, in particular, shouldn’t be logged after the fact; good technology is vital. Make sure the infrastructure is in place – including internet stability and robust audio and visual channels – on any live broadcasts you do. You might even want to hire a hybrid event platform to help you with this feat.

It’s also worth thinking about the smaller details that can unite your team, like a shared playlist that includes everyone’s contributions, or a costume theme that people at home can participate in as well.

Likewise, hybrid activity can be increased between the offline and online worlds. A live band is an obvious advantage for people attending a Xmas bash in person, but opening up requests to people at home might level the playing field. If you have a special guest speaker, book a private question-and-answer session for home attendees only.

Make sure your caterer can organize a hybrid party

Food, of course, is an essential ingredient of a big event; and it’s also great for evoking a feeling of oneness. In a recent study of 180 companies by our team at Just Eat for Business, 52% plan to offer their employees dietary benefits to develop team dynamics.

More than 80% of the companies surveyed also believe that it is “important” or “very important” to offer benefits that are equally accessible to their employees in the office and at home.

To meet this demand, you need a caterer who can deliver meals or treats to multiple locations, so that everyone can enjoy freshly made pizzas or exquisite boxes of macaroons all at once, in their home or place. real. Also choose a company that has flexibility on these arrangements – it’s wise to expect a fair amount of changes and even cancellations depending on developing events.

Coordinate your before and after party benefits

Last but not least, the ultimate hybrid party equates to great benefits. Let’s say your party has a theme: you can send fancy dress props to those at home, as well as props on the door, so there’s every excuse to get involved.

You might also like to start your party in style by hosting a pre-party delivery of branded cupcakes or wine baskets (don’t forget the alcohol-free options). Again, the small touches have the advantage here. You could, for example, have a real and virtual photo booth and then send a link after showing the team in all their full dress or with hilarious props.

Office party in the COVID age is different, but that might not be all a bad thing. Long before the start of the pandemic, one in four of us dreaded the annual Christmas party, and 90% would prefer a bonus or an extra day of vacation instead, given the choice.

Perhaps then, this radical change is our signal to think more broadly about the culture of office parties. At a time of “The great resignation” where employees hold all the cards, the smartest leaders will win over their teams with a new style of inclusive event that everyone can participate in. An event, in other words, that people actually have want to to participate.

Matt Ephgrave is Managing Director of Eat just for business.

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