2020 saw the majority of workplace holiday celebrations switch to virtual or be cancelled altogether. Employers and employees alike are a bit more optimistic this year, looking for ways to bring people together in-person on a small scale. While many organizations are still opting to host their holiday party virtually, with COVID restrictions easing and increased vaccination rates there’s now the option to add an in-person component. Enter: the hybrid holiday party.
Hosting a hybrid holiday party is about offering your employees the choice to attend in-person or virtually.
Hosting an in-person holiday party after many employees have spent nearly two years working from home can be a great way to ease your employees back into the workplace. The office party is a fun way to get people interacting again, introduce employees who may not have actually met any colleagues in-person yet, and get some bonding in.
However, not everyone will be enthusiastic about an in-person gathering, whether due to COVID-19 concerns, taking advantage of remote work to spend time elsewhere for the holidays, or other personal reasons. Attendance should be optional, not mandatory, and employees can attend virtually rather than not at all.
This shows employees that while you care about the camaraderie of the season, you care more about their wellbeing.
When planning a hybrid holiday party, take the time to reflect on what worked last year and—more importantly—what didn’t.
One of the common mistakes that companies made in 2020, according to Vox, is that employers “tried to approximate the real world event”. This meant long meetings, games, drinks, speeches… all held virtually.
This year, organizations should focus on making the hybrid/virtual portion of their holiday event short and sweet—and impactful. The virtual part of your event can include any important company updates and milestones reached, yearly awards, and maybe a fun holiday game. Just keep in mind to keep it simple.
Alternatively, some employers are hosting small in-person events limited to single departments to keep the event more intimate. This way people can socialize in smaller groups before their potential return to the office in 2022.
Additionally, many organizations have opted to skip the holiday party altogether this year—and potentially forever—in favour of spending the money on more practical shows of appreciation for employees. Holiday gifts can include things such as gift cards, bonuses, or additional time off.
Here are some key considerations for a hybrid holiday party:
- Ensure that your mic and webcam setup makes sense for virtual attendees. Have any people who are speaking stand in front of the computer to ensure that the sound is picked up.
- Have someone in charge of monitoring the chat so virtual attendees can post their questions/comments and truly feel included.
- If you’re providing food and drink for the in-person attendees, figure out a way to do the same for the virtual attendees. Provide a SkipTheDishes or Doordash gift card or a gift basket with some popular local treats.
- Check and double check that your setup works. Have IT test the connection, video, and audio to ensure that your remote attendees will have the best experience possible.
Looking for some ideas for the virtual component of your hybrid holiday party? Download our infographic about the Do’s and don’ts of hosting a virtual holiday party to learn more about the keys to a successful celebration.