Making face-to-face meetings safer for your workforce
Shaping the future of learning
With COVID-19 restrictions easing in some areas, it is encouraging to see businesses returning to a more personable approach. With offices moving back to the office space, employees, clients, contractors, and the general public are coming into closer physical contact with each other.
Even if your business is not at the stage of moving back to its pre-COVID-19 environment yet, it’s crucial to have a strategy in place for when that time comes. You can be prepared by developing and reviewing policies and procedures – such as those that address face-to-face meetings. We have provided some tips below to help you get started.
Manage who is at the office or on-site
Controlling who has access to your building and knowing who is at the office or on-site is essential to a safe COVID-19 strategy. Having a record of who has met with whom is also vital. You can achieve this with the right tool.
Disinfect the meeting space
Before and after a meeting, ensure that a designated person disinfects the workspace. Remember to include clear instructions that list the surfaces that require cleaning in your policy. You may want to list specific places that people regularly touch, such as doorknobs, chairs, tables, keyboards, mouse, and remote control.
Post handwashing posters at the entrance of each meeting room. Encourage everyone to wash their hands. Use discretion here. It’s acceptable to make this a company policy for all your employees; however, it can be different if you’re meeting with a client as it can be rude to insist that they wash their hands before the meeting, which leads to our next tip...
Keep hand sanitiser at the front door of your office and the entrance to every meeting room. Enlist managers to be good role models; if they can sanitise their hands in front of other employees and encourage others to do the same, then everybody wins!
For the benefit of all, unwell team members cannot be in the office. If your employee thinks they are fit enough to attend but are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, then allow them to join from home via a conference call. Otherwise, rescheduled when they are well or go forward without them.
If someone does cough or sneeze, it’s not necessarily contagious. It’s best to be prepared for such an event by having tissues on hand. If you are concerned about their health or about the possibility of them spreading disease, approach them with your concern – remember to treat them kindly though, boundaries and respect need to be upheld.
Say no to the handshake and use physical distancing
Use a smile and a warm greeting to welcome people into your meeting. If possible, meet in a room that is spacious and naturally well ventilated. Encourage attendees to leave at least one chair between them and the next person.
Say goodbye to the air-conditioning
Reduce the risk of illness spreading via the air ducts by keeping the air-conditioning switched off. If possible, ventilate the space by opening windows and by leaving the meeting room door open.
Keep your food to yourself
When it comes to food sharing, be cautious. If you order food for your attendees that’s individually wrapped; please consider that stopping people from touching multiple wrappers might be tricky. Instead, you can encourage people attending to bring their own food and drink. If you love a tasty snack, and don’t want to miss out, try having one as a reward once the meeting is over.
Cut down on paper
Handing out sheets for everyone to use or sign can spread contamination. Opt for the use of electronics instead. Encourage everyone to bring their own device. Share projects and documents via technology, rather than via printouts.
Make it part of your policy for team members to update their timesheets regularly; this enables your business to capture and report on when a meeting took place and which employees attended. You could also use a Visitor Management System to create meeting room spaces where attendees can sign in and out.
Meetings are an integral part of running a business. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that every meeting is conducted in a safe space with the appropriate protocols in place.