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Exploring the office Christmas party in 2020


The office Christmas party is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year.

Usually, planning takes place months in advance, with many venues booking up by July for December events, however, this year has been a little different.

With ever-changing rules, policies and lockdowns, it’s been tricky to plan in advance and it’s now up to management to come up with new and creative ways to hold the office Christmas party during a global pandemic.

Christmas parties with a twist

We recently conducted a survey of 1000 office workers in the UK, to find how the Christmas party planning has changed this year.

A third of office workers said that their employer has already organised a Christmas party. However, the majority of companies are opting for a slightly different style this year – a virtual Christmas party.

26% of office staff said that a virtual Christmas party had already been organised,

26% of office staff said that a virtual Christmas party had already been organised, with the largest percentage of those workers being situated in the West Midlands (49%).

The survey also showed that a larger percentage (54%) of workers aged between 18-24 said that they were taking part in a virtual Christmas party, with that number decreasing as the age range increased. Only 13% of those aged 45-54 said they were having a virtual Christmas party and a further 5% of those 55-64.

When asked whether they were excited about this new style of office party, many workers (11%) weren’t completely sold on the idea. However, the region with the highest number of excited workers was once again the West Midlands, with 24% of employees saying they were looking forward to this new way of doing things.

Younger workers were the most excited about virtual Christmas parties,

Younger workers aged between 18-24 were the most excited about virtual Christmas parties, (29%)

Other regions such as London (19%) and the North East (18%) were also looking forward to going digital with this year’s Christmas party. However many regions such as Wales (4%), East England (5%) and Scotland (4%), were going to miss the face to face interactions with their colleagues.

A firm office tradition in many workplaces, Secret Santa, has also had to face a few changes.  23% of respondents stated that they would be doing a long-distance Secret Santa this year.

Again the West Midlands are fully embracing this new way of doing Christmas, with 38% of workers in that region saying they were going to be taking part in a long-distance Secret Santa.

Other regions keen on keeping the tradition of office Secret Santa alive were:

  • London – 35%
  • South West – 29%
  • North East – 25%
  • Yorkshire – 21%

Regions less likely to take part in long-distance Secret Santa this year were:

  • Scotland – 9%
  • East Midlands – 12%
  • East England – 13%
  • Northern Ireland – 13%
  • Wales – 13%

Sticking with tradition

With many changes taking place this Christmas, there are still some offices that are sticking with the more traditional parties, however, it’s only 7% of the 1000 workers we surveyed.

The highest number of workers taking part in a physical Christmas party this year was in Northern Ireland,

The highest number of workers taking part in a physical Christmas party this year was in Northern Ireland, with 17% saying they were sticking with tradition. Yorkshire also had one of the highest percentages of those opting for face to face, with 11% of workers having a normal Christmas party.

However many regions are avoiding having a classic party, with only 3% of those in East England opting for a face to face party, as well as 4% in the West Midlands and 5% in the North West and London respectively.

Waiting to see what happens

However, with ever changing policies, many companies are waiting to see what happens nearer to December.

30% of workers haven’t even discussed having a Christmas party.

We can see from our survey results that 30% of workers said that they haven’t even discussed having a Christmas party this year and as far as they were aware, there was nothing planned. Interestingly, most of these workers were aged 65+, with 58% of those over 65 saying that they hadn’t discussed the idea of a Christmas party.

The highest percentage of these workers were seen in the following regions:

  • East Midlands – 49%
  • Scotland – 38%
  • East England – 36%
  • Northern Ireland – 33%
  • Yorkshire – 30%

Some workers still have faith that a Christmas party will happen, even if it’s last minute. 14% of workers said that even though they haven’t discussed the idea outright, they think that their workplace has something planned.

In the North West, 18% of workers said that they had faith something was planned for Christmas, with a further 19% in Scotland feeling the same way.

Overall there’s a lot of willingness to adapt to the new way of life and keeping things as normal as possible in strange times. Companies are utilising the technology and services they need to keep the Christmas spirit alive with their employees, however, there is still a lot of trepidation and hesitation when it comes to planning anything in advance.

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