Updated Dec 19, 2021 - Economy & Business

Omicron derails company holiday parties

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

It looked like corporate Christmas parties would get the green light this year after virtual soirees in 2020 — but along came Omicron.

Driving the news: Companies of every size and across the world are rethinking their holiday bashes as the Omicron winter wave rolls in. And a popular new option is putting the ball in workers' courts by planning hybrid parties.

The risk: Many firms that have gone ahead with parties despite the rise of the COVID-19 variant have had to deal with case spikes.

  • Dozens and dozens of attendees of a 120-person company Christmas party in Oslo, Norway, were infected — and many of the cases have been confirmed as Omicron.

What's happening: To mitigate that risk, lots of companies are organizing small in-person gatherings as well as bigger virtual ones.

  • A Colorado product design company called Quantum Metric Inc. told Ray A. Smith of the Wall Street Journal that it's throwing a virtual party, with optional smaller live parties in cities where it has satellite offices.
  • Papaya Global, which is an Israel-based payroll management firm, has in-person parties planned but with virtual options for those who aren't comfortable with gathering, the Journal reports.

And some companies are forgoing the party altogether. The global software company SAP SE is giving workers $100 each to expense holiday celebrations instead of throwing an in-person or virtual party, per the Journal.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Dec. 13.

Go deeper