How to Hold Post-Pandemic Business Meetings in the Office
People are coming back to the office, the only uncertainty is how many and how fast. While remote work is here to stay, either completely or as a hybrid form of work for many companies, there are many roles that still need to be done on-site, in addition to a great many companies that are missing their office culture and camaraderie and would rather have everyone back working and collaborating together in the same space.
One of the myriad important questions that managers will need to answer is “how will I organize post-pandemic office life in a way that makes my employees and clients feel comfortable and safe?” Those stewarding the return to the office can start by taking into consideration the below tips for holding post-pandemic business meetings once people are back on-site.
Office meetings, especially if they are for upper management and even more so when clients are in attendance, are very often catered. Food safety is always a concern when serving others, but orders of magnitude more so now given the events of 2020. The first thing to consider is your catering company’s commitment to both standard and pandemic-specific hygiene practices.
The next consideration is the value for your money and the supplies and ingredients your food services company works with. Choose a company with a solid reputation and years of industry experience, as well as one which has kept on the cutting edge of industry standards and best practices over the past year.
Many people are likely to remain cautious and perhaps fearful even once widespread vaccination has become the norm. With that in mind, office managers are going to have to take into consideration the continued demand for things like hand sanitization and perhaps even masks in order to make them feel comfortable. These should be provided in the middle of the table so that people can take from the supplies as they wish.
Sanitizing meeting and conference rooms will also be necessary prior to and after meetings to give people peace of mind. It is important to remember that different people will have varying requirements for what will make them feel safe during close-quarters contact, and offices need to be accommodating for people who may be suffering to one degree or another from pandemic PTSD.
Occupancy limits will still likely need to be tightly controlled even after the majority of people have been vaccinated. There could be office as well as legal regulations or at the very least recommendations in place following the return to the office which mandate or suggest a set number of people in a conference or boardroom at a given time.
If you want to make people comfortable with office meetings post-pandemic, it is a good idea to distribute pre-meeting memos and information letting people know that these kinds of protocols will be in effect and that they can rest easy if they are worried they will be surrounded by too many people.
Short and less frequent meetings
Another consideration will be how often to actually hold meetings and for how long. Shorter and less frequent meetings now define remote work life, and the trend is likely to continue once people return to the office. By having shorter and less frequent meetings you not only help people control their fear and the dread they might feel prior to a meeting, but you also are forced to get to the point quicker and ensure things are more efficient.
It is a good idea to let people know prior to any meetings that the event will begin sharply and the main issues and topics will be addressed immediately. Another important consideration with respect to conference and meeting rooms is air filtration. Companies can find consumer air filters online for not very much money, but which can do a tremendous amount to put people at ease when they are sharing air in confined spaces.
These measures will likely remain in place for some time, whether they are truly necessary or not. Even for people who are eager to leave remote work behind and return to in-office work, there will understandably be a significant amount of hesitation to resume things like regular office meetings.
The world will slowly return to something approximating normal, but office life looks like it has been forever changed. But, if you keep the above post-pandemic office meeting guidelines in mind, you can ensure that people feel safe and comfortable while re-engaging in one of the most important of all functions: the business meeting.