Will Santa Visit Your Virtual Office This Year?

TORONTO—Will your boss be more of a Santa or a Scrooge this holiday season? And does it make a difference if you work from a virtual office?

According to BMO’s Commercial Banking Holiday Survey, 53 percent of working Canadians say their employer will be hosting a holiday party. Regionally, employers in Quebec are most likely to host a celebration for their employees (60 percent), with those in Atlantic Canada the least likely (45 percent). No mention was made in the study about virtual office workers or how they might be included.

"In a challenging business environment, it is encouraging to see that many employers are continuing to recognize the contribution of their employees and celebrate the successes of the year," says Steve Murphy, senior vice president of BMO Commercial Banking. "This survey, in many ways also reaffirms what we are seeing from employers across the country—that they are investing in their people and their businesses, but in a measured and very deliberate way as they adapt to the new dynamics of the business environment."

Alright, so where does that leave virtual office workers? Will they be invited into the office to take part in the festivities? What if the virtual office workers are in other cities? Does that mean they are left out of the holiday fun? Can virtual office workers celebrate virtually? Or does that just create office envy?

The way I see it, virtual office workers may feel somewhat isolated when they know the office-based staff is having a holiday party while they are still hacking away at their keyboards. I think managers should find ways to make virtual office workers feel included. Maybe that means giving them a longer lunch hour and a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Or maybe that just means holding a webcast that lets the virtual office worker greet their office-based counterparts.

On the other hand, virtual office workers are used to working alone and may prefer to continue driving productivity during business hours and spend extra time with their family when they finish the day’s tasks ahead of schedule. Not all virtual office workers are created equal. So know your employees and ask them if they’d like to be included—virtually—in the company office party or just take a couple hours off to celebrate with family.


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