Closed offices and holiday parties subside as a familiar feeling sinks in

When employers weigh vaccine guidelines and adjust their office returns, they also face a more immediate challenge: How will they celebrate the holiday season when Omicron is spreading? After a year of email and Slack correspondence, the company’s teams had been eagerly awaiting holiday parties. But as New York City’s new Covid cases rose sharply after party invitations went out, dozens of businesses struggled to cancel their plans.

Vincent Chee, head of people and culture at Bevel, a communications consulting firm with 30 employees, had begun making arrangements for the company’s holiday celebration in late September: It would involve a scavenger hunt, a low-self snow globe session and hot cocoa. Last week, when an employee tested positive for the virus, the company switched to virtual festivities.

“We’re going back to the basics,” Mr. Chee and described his plans for online yoga and meals that employees can pay for on food delivery sites like Seamless.

Meanwhile, employers who held holiday parties just as the cases exploded are trying to help their workers cope with the aftermath: BuzzFeed, which hosted a party last week in Manhattan, said participants reported positive test results to the company’s internal epidemiologist and close contacts was invited to be tested.

Some business leaders came under fire for taking a mid-term approach to party cancellations. The peloton decided not to host a holiday party due to Covid concerns, budgetary considerations and lack of space, according to the company. But then the CEO and his wife held their own party at the Plaza Hotel, which some Peloton employees attended.

“John and Jill Foley hosted a personal holiday party for their friends and family, some of whom were Peloton team members,” a company official said in an email. “This was not a Peloton-paid or -sponsored event.”

Some people whose businesses have been pushing with holiday festivities are wondering if they should take the risk of gathering with colleagues. Emily Crebbin, 24, who works for a global technology company, said she felt a sense of discomfort switching between Twitter and TikTok posts about the rapid spread of Omicron in New York City while planning an outfit for her employer. holiday party on Friday.

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