Getting Together With Colleagues When Working From Home

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Last Updated on December 28, 2020 by Work In My Pajamas

Work parties can be a wonderful time for employees to socialize and have some fun, but planning the event itself is a challenge. These sort of get-togethers can be especially meaningful when you work from home.  Even the smallest company has work-at-home employees.  It’s important to not forget about them.  Many employees may have a wide variety of dietary needs and physical limitations, and you may also need to carefully navigate cultural and religious affiliations to avoid causing offense. To ensure everyone in attendance has a good time, here are some aspects of party planning you don’t want to overlook.

Dietary Needs and Restrictions

Whether you’re working with a caterer to feed hundreds or arranging a potluck for a staff of only 25, work-at-home employees, food can be a contentious issue. Observant Jews and Muslims do not eat pork whatsoever and may not eat items that do not follow the standards of kosher or halal food preparation. Vegetarians and vegans may not be comfortable picking meat and animal products such as cheese or eggs out of their food. Consider ordering or preparing simple, neutral foods so that everyone can feel at ease with their choices. All-veggie salads, fruit salads and breads are wonderful starters. Serve meats on separate platters arranged by source with separate serving utensils. Cheeses should also be offered separately. For a large gathering, (including employees who work from home) highly allergenic items such as tree nuts should be avoided entirely.

Consider Your Venue

While a small company may be perfectly at home renting out the local fire hall or church meeting hall, be very careful with your choice of venue. Consider all the employees who will be attending.  Take into special consideration those who work at home and do not have the normal day-to-day social interaction that everyone else does.  They may need to have a hand of welcome extended to them to make them feel part of the group.

The perfect venue should be accessible to the handicapped, even if there are no handicapped employees. A spouse may be handicapped and feel unwelcome if the venue isn’t accessible. You will also want to consider the affiliation of the venue. For example, atheists and agnostics may be uncomfortable at the church meeting hall. Consider neutral spaces, such as hotels, banquet facilities or public parks where everyone can feel welcome.

Carefully Consider Beverages

The choice of whether or not to offer alcoholic beverages at a work party is a tough one. If most of your employees are older folks who would enjoy a few beers or a glass of wine with dinner, you may feel confident providing drinks. If your company is full of young singles who work from home, they may not have partners to drive them to their destination, therefore, alcohol may not be a good idea. Talk to management to help discern the policy regarding alcohol at the event.  More than likely, alcohol at any work event would be a bad idea, no matter the age.  After all, alcohol turns even the most civil of persons into monsters.

If you’ve been put in charge of planning the company party, there are a lot of aspects to consider. By keeping these ideas in mind, you’ll be able to create a welcoming, respectful event that your employees will remember for years.

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