Summary:

A handful of freelancer parties suggest the future of the work-related holiday get-together in a world of remote collaboration may not be so grim after all. It just may require a switch in mindset away from an exclusive focus on employers as the organizing principle.

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Last week here on WebWorkerDaily, we pondered what the rise of remote work is doing to that old office tradition: the holiday party. Tales of distant teammates congregating around Skype made for a pessimistic picture of the future of the institution, but it seems some unconventional workers have found better ways to mark the season.

On Fast Company this week, writer Matt Haber tracks down the best in New York City office parties for those who don’t have offices, reporting on shindigs in Brooklyn and Manhattan where those at the forefront of the future of work gathered to wish each other a happy holiday season. For example, in Gowanus, Brooklyn:

No Office Holiday Party was thrown collectively by the websites Brokelyn, Brooklyn Based, F’d in Park Slope, and the email newsletter the skint. “A lot of our writers and readers and editors are freelance types who spend a lot of time at home in front of their computers all day,” Brokelyn’s managing editor, Tim Donnelly told Fast Company. “We’re not in a position to hand out bonuses, but we can hand out fun bonuses. The drinks were pretty cheap and the punch was pretty strong. The benefit is the human contact. To know you’re not alone out there hacking away at the Internet all day in a silo.”

At the Paragraph writers’ space on West 14th, about 50 freelance writers also mingled and marked the season without their usual laptops in tow. Their ability to get convivial with colleagues despite not having cubicle-bound lives suggests the future of the office party might not be so depressing after all. By switching from expecting each year’s event to be a gathering of a particular organization’s workforce regardless of their location, the way forward may be to flip this around and view the holiday party as an opportunity for professionals in the same general geographic area to get together no matter who pays their bills throughout the year.

Much like the switch in mindset that allows workers to move off corporate campuses and mingle at co-working spaces in whatever location best suits them, the new way of looking at holiday parties may focus less on grouping people by employer and more by their chosen geography and community. Holiday parties, like the rest of work, are becoming more about intangible ideas like your personal network and professional goal than traditional organizing principles like company directories or actual office buildings.

Are you celebrating with your professional network this year?

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