Jack Mason, Group CEO of Inc & Co, and Making a Virtual Christmas Party
It’s the time of year when social calendars are typically filled with office Christmas parties. Donning festive clothes to unwind with coworkers over glasses of wine while anticipating the festive period is a time-honored tradition and one that jack Mason knows office workers look forward to each year. But this year, in the midst of a global pandemic, in-person parties are off the table. Does that mean your office should forget the Christmas party?
Jack Mason, founder of Inc & Co, said that with all the added stress, uncertainty, and upended routines this year has brought, the office Christmas party is more important than ever. Mason advises company leaders to plan a virtual Christmas party this year that encourages people to gather, celebrate, and unwind safely and to make sure that it still reflects the company’s culture and feels personal. The virtual Christmas party, he says, will serve to remind the team that this difficult stage is temporary, that traditions persist (even if they look a little different), and that there is still opportunity for fun and community at work.
Jack Mason’s core business, Inc & Co, brings together numerous digital companies and provides them with a suite of support services for their operational needs to help them grow — including marketing, HR, finance, and recruitment. Clients include the e-commerce apparel company Brass; venture fund Neon; Cuhu, a mobile app development company; on-demand laundry service Laundrapp and Skylab, a sports innovation agency that works with high-profile clients like FIFA, Manchester United, and Swim England.
When Jack was planning his company’s own virtual Christmas party this year, he wanted an event that would bring together these diverse startups and agencies, along with employees from Inc & Co and incspaces, in one blowout, virtual gala. Mason created a free virtual Christmas party — called the incparty — that included live music from prominent Manchester-based musicians, a DJ, and giveaways and discounts from local businesses.
“2020 has been a tough year for everyone, but there is still time to end on a high,” Mason said. “Our virtual Christmas party — the incparty — is for all of those businesses, freelancers, furloughed and individuals who are not attending a Christmas party this year and may be struggling with feelings of loneliness. We wanted to do something to bring everyone together but from the comfort and safety of their own home.”
Musical acts included dreamy, upbeat singer Ellysse Mason, and soulful singer-songwriters Tim Gallagher and Joe McAdam. DJ Clint Boon, one of the UK’s most sought-after club DJs, closed out the night. The event was designed not as a lesser version of the company’s typical Christmas affair, but as a memorable, one-of-a-kind experience that would be remembered and talked about long after.
Just because it’s virtual, said Mason, does not mean the company Christmas party should be less interesting or fun. Below are Mason’s top tips for designing a virtual Christmas party that leaves people talking. Get creative. Think about what you can offer virtually that wouldn’t be possible in a live setting, said Mason. Start with space. A typical office party needs a single location — a local restaurant or hall for a catered event. Online, there are no such restrictions. The event services company Hire Space, for instance, is offering virtual parties that includes various Christmas-themed rooms for guests to enjoy, including crafts, a DJ, a wine tasting (small bottles are delivered to each guest), and a baking tent.
Keep people engaged.
When everyone’s on Zoom together enjoying their beverage of choice, make sure to keep the mood interactive and fun through planned activities, Mason said. You can invite everyone to wear their favourite Christmas jumper or participate in an office-related quiz.
Take time for celebration.
This has been a difficult year for everyone and it’s important for company leadership to acknowledge those hardships and to take time to thank staff for their work and clients for their loyalty during tough times. These sentiments don’t have to be long — and it’s better if they aren’t — but make sure they are meaningful and sincere, said Mason. And since the medium is virtual, be sure to prepare something in advance with visuals that will leave an impression. And don’t forget to capture images of the night for sharing on social media.
It may seem counterintuitive, but with a little advanced planning, it is possible to connect the office team around a shared Christmas dinner. Work with a local restaurant or catering service to have meals delivered to teams so that everyone can log on and dig in together.
Include a special guest or two.
One of the advantages of a virtual event is the ability to attract performers, speakers, and entertainers from anywhere. Just as Jack Mason was able to bring together numerous musical acts for his incparty, develop a theme and find special guests that will really help to make the event memorable and meaningful, Mason says. Think about people whose words and performances will elevate the mood — music is always good, but you might also consider comedians and inspirational speakers, he says. Decide what impression you want people to be left with — hopeful, grateful, connected — he advises, and use that as your guide.
Give a gift.
Even a small token of appreciation can go a long way if it is thoughtful, Mason notes. A Christmas party is typically an occasion for delivering a little gift to let employees and clients know they are appreciated. Think about how you might best honour them this year. You can use this opportunity to support local businesses, making the gift extra meaningful. You might consider a branded hat or sweatshirt that everyone can wear to help them feel a connected part of the team. Or perhaps it’s an extra day or half day off to let your team know how much you value their time during these extraordinary times.
About Jack Mason
Jack Mason is the Group CEO of Manchester’s digital collective Inc & Co. He directs the group’s vision and meticulously plots business strategies for each acquisition, helping numerous teams to hone their operations and collaborative practices. Jack embraces entrepreneurial approaches to accelerate business success, harnessing cutting-edge technologies, and market approaches to achieve optimal results for Inc & Co’s acquisitions.
Originally published at http://companycultures.org on December 21, 2020.