'They're losing out' | Realistically, is the virtual holiday party dead?

Realistically, is the virtual holiday party dead?
Realistically, is the virtual holiday party dead?

You’d be forgiven for not wanting to cast your mind back to the dark days of the pandemic, in which HR was scrambling to try and maintain some semblance of structure, productivity and culture, whilst outside the windows of their homes, the virus was spreading like wildfire.

These few disturbing years will no doubt be a trauma on both a personal and professional level for HR practitioners. However, much like the period of swift technological advancement following the second world war, many of the lessons that we learned in these years continues to permeate the very heart of working life across the globe.

The obvious example is the steep rise in remote working. Yes, many were already working from home sporadically, perhaps even full time, yet to fill the gaping hole in many businesses’ facilitation of full-time home working, a whole market of solutions became available seemingly overnight. There were, of course, winners and losers in this mad dash to become the market leaders. Yet those that saw a niche, or anticipated customer needs before they became apparent, stood to make a lot of money.

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This was apparent when the holiday season rolled around, and with no chance of an in-person get-together on the cards, many businesses turned to the diverse range of digital holiday services, ready and waiting for their business. Many different creative options became available, from hiring a virtual comedian, to a virtual-reality version of the office parties we’ve all likely attended over the years. Yet two things seemed to be a staple of this experience. One, some kind of care package, be that a selection of wines for a digital wine tasting, or ingredients for a virtual cook-along with a chef, or even simply a range of treats to eat whilst on camera. Two, regardless of how extravagant the event, attendees were always looking in on the action from behind their computer screens.

Why did virtual holiday parties exist?

Some may question the importance of attempting to keep up with the age-old tradition of a festive corporate get-together. The answer is simple – because time away from talking about spreadsheets or clients, to socialise and have some comradery, is important to culture. And culture matters. In fact, 88% of workers, according to Teamstage data, claim that culture plays an essential factor in where they choose to work. Still not convinced? Well, 65% noted that they’d probably leave their company if culture didn’t seem like a considered factor. In the midst of all the threats to wellbeing presented by the pandemic and lockdowns, companies understood that people needed to be recognised, and given a little festive cheer.

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