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VOL. 45 | NO. 52 | Friday, December 24, 2021

COVID-19 seems to have killed workplace holiday fun

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Do you remember when holidays meant getting together with co-workers at a fancy restaurant? Or, they were a time for a fun little holiday work lunch where your boss would let the entire team go home early.

The holiday week usually involved dressing up at least once. There were fuzzy sweaters, sparkly dresses and fancy shoes. Holidays tasted like hot chocolate and Champagne. If you were lucky, the holidays involved gifts.

And, they definitely involved holiday cards from sweet co-workers.

What are holidays anymore, now that we are tiny boxes on a screen? How are you celebrating holidays with your colleagues at work?

For many people, the holiday will pass right by without any real acknowledgement. We’re all in hoodies and sweatpants, trying to be holiday neutral. At some companies, it’s as if the holidays aren’t happening at all.

It seems this lack of holidays is partially thought out, and partially situational. After all, we all expected we would be back to working in person in offices by now. Who knew that we’d need to develop a completely new way to celebrate holidays?

In addition, we’ve become quite careful when it comes to talking about topics like holidays. On one hand, this is a great thing. We’re learning to be more sensitive to our differences. This is wonderful, and very much needed.

But, on the other hand, when we don’t talk about these things together, we also don’t learn about one another. The differences have the potential to be magnified.

Also, due to the pandemic or other personal circumstances, there are always employees who may be too far from family to travel. This lack of office holiday cheer can be tough on these employees.

I’m not sure what the right answer is. Frankly, I’m not the biggest fan of get-togethers over Zoom. I avoid video chat whenever I can. What sort of party is fun over Zoom?

We might pretend to enjoy online games, but inside, we’re wishing we could shut the computer off and take a break.

However, if we’re going to keeping working from home (and I hope we do), we have to find new ways to get to know one another. Work can’t be all about productivity every moment of every day. That’s not what binds us. It’s not what makes people want to stay at a company long term.

At work, the special parts are often celebrating personal milestones. It’s about those random interests you happen to share with the person sitting next to you. Or, the casual conversations you have when you walk to get coffee. Or, sharing photos of your kids. The best parts of work are these strung together little moments that can’t be scheduled.

No matter our personal background or beliefs, holidays are for connection, and for giving thanks to those around us. I hope your holiday is a peaceful one filled with health, blessings, and special memories.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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