Annual office holiday parties are mostly known for cliches: the bad sweaters, the embarrassing dance moves, the exec who has one too many drinks. At Hero, it’s an event we genuinely look forward to every year. Everyone gets involved in the planning, and staff from all over the country fly in to be there. It’s a great time, a way to celebrate one year and prepare for the next, but it’s also an important company event that delivers some key business results:
- Integrating remote workers. Although most of our staff work in one of our six offices, like most modern digital companies, we’ve got a number of remote workers as well. On the day of our holiday party this week, they all began arriving: the QA engineer who hadn’t met the rest of the project team he’s been working with for a month, the developer who works out of the Midwest but makes sure to get to the holiday party every year, the Adobe expert who flies in from Germany for a week each year and starts his vacation with the holiday party. I overheard one of our staffers saying to a colleague who had just flown in, “The holiday party is great because everyone comes, so you get to meet anyone you haven’t met face to face, and the whole company gets to hang out.” It was unprompted and 100-percent earnest, and perfectly encapsulates why it’s important to get everyone in the same place each year to celebrate.
- Team-building. Just throwing a party isn’t enough. You also have to have the sort of company culture that encourages people to be themselves, to let their hair down and show their colleagues who they really are. We work really hard to find employees who play as hard as they work, who bring a diverse set of interests and skills that have nothing to do with their day jobs, but make them great to work with. Our office is full of snowboarders and pastry chefs, musicians and triathletes, soccer captains and punk rockers. Sharing their extracurricular passions, and personalities, outside of the office makes their collaborative work inside the office that much stronger.
- Community. At a lot of companies, the holiday party is seen as a sort of onerous obligation, something employees may feel they have to show up to for an hour before they can ditch out and go home. I’m proud to say our staff gets genuinely excited to party together. People bring their party clothes to the office to change into and head out early to catch up before the party. No one wants to leave and we usually close the place down together.
When an annual party is just an item on a checklist, it falls into typical office Christmas party stereotypes. But when it’s a genuine celebration of the work, an organic extension of the company’s culture, it can work almost like a corporate retreat to bring people together, deepen collaboration, and provide a reset that gets everyone ready to tackle another year.