Holiday parties are back on the calendar this month, and some are hybrid office parties. After over a year of pandemic-dictated cancellations and virtually adapted parties, people are gathering again under the same bedecked roof. More and more offices are reopening and inviting their employees to return to their desks while still embracing hybrid work opportunities. With that comes the return of the beloved office holiday party. With COVID-19 variants an ongoing concern, it’s wise for companies to consider a few tips when welcoming their employees back into the workplace, whether on a daily basis or just for the company party.
Here are four ideas to incorporate a safe in-person/hybrid office parties this year.
Be Empathetic and Understanding
First and foremost, employers should make sure every team member feels safe when they return to the office, in whatever capacity. That safety might include respecting their requests for additional sanitizing stations, respecting space, encouraging mask wearing, and allowing flexible in-office schedules. Most importantly, however, employees must feel comfortable expressing any concerns they might have without scrutiny.
“Ultimately, employers should flavor their return-to-work measures with empathy and understanding,” says Forbes contributor Benjamin Laker. “This is a difficult time for all workers, and many have experienced personal loss and other stressors. People should return to work, but the transition back should not be unduly stressful. The resulting benefits on morale and goodwill amongst your staff will be lasting.”
Offer Virtual Options for Parties
When planning your holiday or annual company parties, consider adding virtual options. Not only will this help those employees who haven’t yet returned to the office feel more included and comfortable, but it will also allow for telecommuters and remote sales teams to join in the fun.
When looking for options for a hybrid office party, consider options beyond the all-too-familiar Zoom room. Challenge your employees instead by inviting them to a virtual party room. ReElivate caters specifically to company team building activities and features themes and activities centered around client engagement, happy hours, wine tastings, team building, and holiday office parties. Your group can solve the mystery of who killed Jacob Marley, or you can host a virtual cookie decorating challenge, cookies and decorating supplies included.
Swap the Buffet Luncheon for a Food Truck Roundup
Keep that holiday or even monthly team luncheon germ- and worry-free this year and consider swapping out the carving station for a selection of food truck options instead. While the restaurant industry was hit hard by the pandemic, food trucks managed to flourish, especially as they incorporated technology into how customers order and pay for their food. “Compared to delivery or dining at a restaurant, your meal is less likely to pass through multiple sets of hands,” according to Truckster.
By hosting a food truck roundup, you open up a variety of culinary options for your team. You can essentially serve up cuisine from around the world, from Vietnamese to Indian, or stick to fun favorites like gourmet grilled cheese and Belgian waffles.
Opt for a Project Management System Over Added Meetings
Aside from hybrid office parties, now is a great time to reconsider how you are communicating with your in-office team on a daily basis. Are you continuing to host standups in the conference room? What do your one-on-one meetings look like? Are your employees’ calendars filled with too many inner-office meetings? It might be time to invest in a new project management system.
Rather than pulling project teams into your office for daily status updates, remember that you want to reduce the number of meetings and close-quarter contact you are exposing your employees to. You can either email or Slack them and wait for an eventual response, or you could easily jump onto a project management platform and know exactly how every project is going. A system like GUIDEcx offers project managers a user-friendly dashboard that provides all the pertinent information at a quick glance without having to call an impromptu meeting.
When it comes to welcoming your employees back into the workplace, whether returning to normal day-to-day activities or the annual holiday party, it’s time for change. Become more in tune with your employees’ needs; offer fun, virtual alternatives to team building and holiday activities; consider food trucks for celebratory luncheons; and cut down on all those in-person meetings by using a project management platform.
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