Ready, steady, Zoom! Your virtual Christmas party

We all deserve some fun this Christmas. Being in lockdown doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a safe, socially distanced Christmas party. In fact, through researching the many options of how to hold an online Christmas party, it could be more fun than the real thing. Below are some great party ideas.

“But we’re all Zoomed out!” I hear you cry. I understand, but this is different. Many of us have experienced Zoom Fatigue even when using MS Teams, Remo or other online conferencing platforms.

Never fear! This will be far better. You won’t just be sitting in front of a screen. You’ll be moving around, dancing, creating cocktails, playing charades or leaping about trying to find the answer to a question that’s on the tip of your tongue.

Outsource Your Party Planning

Decide whether you want to host your virtual party or if you’d rather outsource to an online events company. Outsourcing may stretch your budget, but it could also save planning time. Choices include:

  • Try The Office Christmas Party – their ‘Festive Chef’ sounds deliciously different! They email you a list of ingredients to buy and what equipment you’ll need. On the day, a Michelin star chef talks you through the challenge and then shows you, live, how to cook it.

Fun Activities

If you opt to host your party yourself, now for the really fun bit! Choosing what activities to do. Depending on the activity, you probably won’t have time to do more than one or two, especially if you include eating, drinking and chatting … it’s Christmas, so of course you would!

Here’s a list I’ve compiled, to get you started:

  • Fancy Dress: If you’re having a theme, have a prize for the best fancy dress. Ask everyone to vote in the chat box throughout the party. If there’s a tie at the end, the hosts can make the final decision. What power! Allow a few minutes at the end to announce the winner.
  • Two Truths, One Lie: This game helps you get to know each other more. Take it in turns to say three things about yourself – two truths and a lie. Everyone tries to guess the lie. The person who guesses correctly has a drink. Carry on around the ‘room’ until you’ve all had a go. This could get loud! Pre-warn everyone about the game giving them time to prepare.
  • Secret Santa: Just because we’ve had to go virtual doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy Secret Santa thanks to online generators like this one. Set it up early to give people a chance to order and send their gifts. Set a maximum amount to spend and remind everyone to keep giftees a secret. Then enjoy the looks on their faces as everyone opens their gifts during your party!  
  • Charades: Who doesn’t love a game of charades? The hosts can send private chats to each person when it’s their go with the name of a movie, book or TV show to enact. Let the game last as long or short a time as you like.

Whatever activities you choose, do enjoy your virtual Christmas party!

Can You Use the KickStart Scheme?

The Kickstart Scheme was announced in July 2020 and is aimed at creating new high-quality jobs to help 16-24-year-old unemployed people on Universal Credit. The aim is to provide opportunities for young people to enter the workplace, especially as many of those in this age bracket may have lost their jobs as a result of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

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What is the Job Retention Bonus and How Can You Use it?

On 8 July 2020, the Chancellor announced a new Job Retention Bonus for employers who have used the Job Retention Scheme. You can receive a £1000 cash bonus for every furloughed employee provided that:

  • you bring the furloughed employee back to work and continue to employ them for the period of November 2020 to the end of January 2021; and
  • the employee earns a minimum of £520 average per month between November and January 2021.

Payments will be made from February 2021.

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Returning to Office Work or New Home Working Arrangements?

An article by Jenny Collis at Fit and Able

Do you have measures in place for supporting your employees who want to continue home working?

In March 2020, as lock down measures were enforced, home working became a sudden significant change in working life. Many employees had never worked from home before and had concerns over the physical and mental challenges home working brings. Many cobbled together a work station and embraced the new lifestyle. And a significant number have enjoyed the change. So as lock down restrictions are lifting, a number of employees are exploring the possibilities of longer term home working with their employer.

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Returning to Work?

Employers in England are being encouraged to reopen their workplaces to staff who cannot work from home, while those in other parts of the UK are likely to be making plans ahead of similar moves. The guidelines are changing on a weekly basis, but here are eight challenges that have been identified by XpertHR, that you might need to consider, regarding bringing your staff back and keeping them all safe.

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Right to Work Checks Changed Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

In light of the 2020 coronavirus outbreak, from 30 March 2020 as an employer you can adopt a revised process for checking right to work.

Government guidance confirms that a scanned copy or photograph of documents necessary to prove a right to work should be sent to you via an email or mobile app. A video call should then be arranged with the worker, where they should be asked to present their original documents to the camera. These documents should then be compared with the digital versions previously sent. The date of this check should be recorded and noted as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”.

If a prospective employee cannot produce any of the prescribed documents, you should consult the Home Office Employer Checking Service.

When the coronavirus crisis ends, the date of which is currently unknown, a retrospective check should be carried out on employees who started working for your company, or required a follow-up check, during these measures. This check will need to be carried out within eight weeks of the crisis ending and be marked “the individual’s contract commenced on [insert date]. The prescribed right to work check was undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19.”

If during the retrospective check you find that the employee does not have the right to work in the UK, they should be dismissed immediately.

For organisations that have been deemed an essential business, a usual check can still be conducted, however the validity of documents check can be done via video link provided you have the original documents.

If an employee has a Biometric Residence Permit or has been granted ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme, they can give you permission to check their details online.

If there are any other particular questions you have about these changes that you would like to discuss, please call me on 0118 940 3032 or click here to email me.