As the coronavirus threat continues to be a public health and safety issue, organizations are faced with the question of whether to hold in-person or virtual meetings. Although virtual meetings are appropriate in many situations, sometimes in-person meetings are unavoidable. Job interviews for high-level positions, employee terminations, and conversations that establish client-organization relationships are some examples. When in-person meetings are necessary, a few precautions can be taken to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
Safety Tips for Face-to-Face Meetings
With any face-to-face meeting, the goal is to reduce the chance of the virus from spreading. Ensuring the meeting space is sanitized beforehand, including rented spaces such as Creative Meeting Spaces, is the first line of defense. Other precautions include limiting the amount of physical contact and choosing indoor spaces that are well-ventilated. Making sure everyone in the meeting steers away from shaking hands and sits or stands at least six feet apart are examples of limiting physical contact.
Should Masks be Worn?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued conflicting advice on wearing masks in public, as new information and research about how the virus spreads have come to light. Currently, the WHO recommends wearing masks in areas where there is community spread and it is difficult to maintain social distancing. This includes indoor public spaces where prolonged proximity and poor or mediocre ventilation is certain. Of note, nearly every populated area of the globe has or is currently experiencing community spread of the coronavirus.
Be sure to check for any local or state mask mandates, as some jurisdictions require people to wear face coverings when indoors. If this is the case, then any in-person meetings will need to come with a reminder or instructions that masks must be worn. Alternatively, the meetings may be able to be held outdoors with social distancing if the weather cooperates.
Think of the Details
When planning meetings, it can be easy to overlook the details and become complacent. Things like ensuring everyone brings their own food and beverages, having tissues on hand for those who might need to cough or sneeze, and having extra hand sanitizer in the room can all help mitigate the spread of the virus. Everyone should also be reminded and encouraged to wash their hands before and after the meeting, especially if surfaces are touched.
Other precautions include opening windows in the room, if weather permits, and limiting the use of air conditioning. It is thought that air conditioning and recirculating air could encourage the spread of the virus. Limiting or eliminating the use of paper documents can also reduce the amount of surface and shared contact. The sharing of documents through online platforms should be encouraged instead.
Another precaution you can take is to get onsite COVID-19 tests administered by a service such as Drip Hydration. Their rapid tests give results within 15 minutes for peace of mind that everyone at the meeting is healthy.
While face-to-face meetings carry more risks than virtual meetings, organizations can still follow the guidelines of public health agencies like the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control. These guidelines, which include limiting physical contact, increasing social distance, sanitizing surfaces, wearing masks, and limiting the number of people in a room or increasing the size of the meeting space, can help reduce the risks. Since it is thought that the coronavirus can be spread through the air and physical contact, it is critical to guard against both.