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A new app is angling to address a looming casualty of the coronavirus pandemic: the holiday office party.
Upstream, a digital networking platform that launched last month, is tweaking its software in order to help companies arrange holiday events for workers who in some cases may not have seen each other since March.
The new “Holiday Mixer” feature lets employees gather in an audio-only waiting room, complete with festive backgrounds and holiday music. After a video address from the host, the gathering then pivots to four, 5-minute breakouts where participants will have one-on-one chats with a randomly paired coworker.
It’s a spin on the app’s most popular feature, Upstream Events, which sees a guest give a short presentation via video before attendees break off into smaller networking sessions.
Though work on Upstream began well before the pandemic, CEO Alex Taub said the lockdowns helped him concoct new uses for a product that was initially intended as a place for professionals to socialize and meet.
“One of our investors texted me late one night and said he was thinking about the holiday parties that aren’t happening this year,” Taub told The Post. “And I figured that with a few tweaks we could make it applicable and have companies come use it.”
Though still in its infancy, Taub is confident that Upstream will continue to be relevant once people are back in the office.
“We’re going to have a vaccine and be back to normalcy in the next year or two,” Taub says. “But I think there will always be a virtual component to work.”
“In the past eight months, the world has accelerated eight years in terms of the future of work,” he added. “If companies want to compete for top talent, there has to be some remote aspect.”
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