It’s December, but this year isn’t finishing with company Christmas parties at a hotel or restaurant. Instead, companies are opting for virtual parties in which you hang out with your team but you order your own food to eat at home. I get it – connecting and team building are an important part of company culture, but do you think Zoom parties are as effective for socializing and networking?
Pre-pandemic, you could at least escape to the bathroom, walk around the hotel halls for some fresh air, or hop from table to table after dinner. With virtual meetings, however, there is no escape. Your camera is watching you. Your coworkers can see you if they are looking at your little space on the screen. You are a creature on display in your little rectangle of a cage.
Teamwork and communication are important soft skills for the workplace, but can you build those as effectively online? This year, one company wants their workers from the same department to all buy their dinner from the same chain restaurant and then expense the meal. In a sense, you are all eating together in the same restaurant. Sort of. You’re just eating at home, but at work. Sort of.
Only one person can speak at a time. Whether you are in the main room or breakout rooms, only one person speaks. You can’t start a conversation with the person next to you at the table while others are talking. You can’t wander off to get seconds or dessert or get a breath of fresh air.
Maybe you’ll get a screen shot of everyone sitting and smiling at the camera at the end of the evening. It’s not quite the same as funny group poses at the photo booth. Or photos as you stand in a group, arms over each other’s shoulders, in front of the Christmas tree.
But you can play games such as guess the Christmas song from the emojis on the screen. You can listen as everyone takes turns giving their reflections about the past year. Where would they want to go for their next vacation? What’s their favourite Christmas tradition? Funnily enough, when asked what they wanted for 2021, everyone at the Zoom party unanimously said, “An end to the pandemic.”
If this is like the company Christmas party you had this year, what did you think? Can you connect with your coworkers the same way as in person? Comment below!