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Virtual still popular for office parties

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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(Montreal) There will be plenty of Quebec workers to celebrate their traditional office “party” behind the scenes this year. Although health measures have been relaxed for events, many companies prefer the default option or simply postponement.

Frederic Lacroix Couture
Canadian Press

The Canadian Press contacted nearly a dozen large employers with thousands of employees in Quebec. A few of them responded to our request, and none of them planned to hold Christmas gatherings in person.

This is particularly the case with Loto-Québec and Mouvement Desjardins. The financial institution invites its employees to celebrate the end of the holiday year in a virtual event.

“Teams that wish to come together to celebrate together are also asked to do so in a virtual format rather than during an actual gathering,” Desjardins spokesperson Jean-Benoit Turcotte said by email.

For her part, Bombardier said she wanted to remain “cautious” and therefore would not organize any particular event on the holidays. Management “will rather leave to the discretion of its teams the choice of organizing small gatherings outside the workplace if they so wish.”

After counting large companies among its clients, event agency Suite22 reports that many employers are preferring to postpone as early as next year, in the hopes of further easing health measures.

“I’ve never had January and February in this full shape. I already have about twenty contracts for January and February. I get almost nothing at the time, usually at this time of year, says Nadine Maynard, founder of Suite22, who receives a lot of last-minute orders. My schedule.

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The majority of its contracts for the next few weeks relate to events in virtual form. Employers have put an end to face-to-face gatherings to avoid taking responsibility for the COVID-19 outbreak, says MI Maynard.

“I think they don’t want to take on the burden if something happens,” she says.

Among the face-to-face event types, MI Maynard gives the example of a company in Ontario that has many franchises in Quebec that invites its employees to a special show and then a meal at a hotel. Many companies also choose to hold small group gatherings.

The use of the hybrid formula, with guests in person and others in virtual mode, is gaining increasing popularity, notes the master.I Maynard. A concept that represents the future, according to her, especially because of the cost savings.

She also prepares a lot of personalized gifts that are sent directly to the employee’s residence.

Health measures and staff shortages

The lack of specific rules governing “party” in the office may explain employers’ reluctance to face-to-face events.

At the end of October, the Department of Health and Social Services told The Canadian Press that “it is still too early for public health to make recommendations.”

“As soon as public health recommendations regarding the supervision of Christmas parties in offices are available, an announcement will be made quickly,” a ministry spokesperson said by email.

Employers can still organize gatherings depending on the sanitary rules surrounding holding events such as conferences and dinner shows.

“It is quite an enigma, however, M . maintainsI Maynard. It is reviewed every three or four days. I always have to go to Tourisme d’affaires Québec to update myself. ”

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Reading the rules varies from one hotel or restaurant to another. Nadine Maynard, who takes care to respect the rules literally, says some institutions are stricter and others more flexible than government decree.

Added to these restrictions is the lack of staff in hotel complexes. “It can seat 200 people, but it can feed 60 guests because there is a shortage of ‘staff’ in the kitchen, as the owner of Suite22 testifies.

Although she realizes that public health “has a lot on her health,” Mr.I Maynard deplores the lack of regard for the world of corporate events.

“The ‘company’ is big and we seem to have totally forgotten about it. They didn’t think employees had been working remotely for a year and a half. There are a lot of new employees who have never met their bosses physically,” she laments, adding that Christmas events are the ‘perfect excuse’. for bonding.

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