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Overcome the hurdle of less meetings in the ‘New Normal’ office

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The current global pandemic has changed work settings worldwide. The “new normal” poses a challenge for employees who rely on frequent collaboration or any face-to-face meetings. With 92% of employers limiting group meetings, companies must adapt to keep things running smoothly. Whether you opt for virtual meetings or thoughtfully designed face-to-face meetings, here are a few actionable tips for your company.

Necessary face-to-face meetings

While virtual meetings are encouraged during this time, sometimes only a face-to-face meeting will do. Choose wisely when deciding if it is worth holding a physical meeting in your office. Consider a face-to-face meeting when:

  • Brainstorming: virtual meetings may be less effective for facilitating creativity
  • Interviewing a new employee:body language is better assessed in person
  • Having a difficult conversation: more respectful to approach difficult subject face-to-face
  • Building relationships: easier to do in person with clients or new employees, especially early on

If you determine that a face-to-face meeting is necessary, read on for CDC recommended tips to keep your employees safe.

Create physical distance

Choose a large room with adequate seating to host the meeting. Modify the room’s layout to add space between employees (recommended six feet apart). Use physical barriers (guiding tape on floors or chairs that should not be used) to ensure distancing protocols are followed. If your office does not have a large enough space, consider hosting multiple meetings  to communicate the important information to all staff.

Ensure good ventilation

Ventilation systems in the meeting space should be working properly to reduce the spread of airborne viruses. The CDC recommends opening windows and doors to increase circulation. If fans are used, position them to minimize air blowing directly from one person on to another. Lastly, consider hosting your meeting outdoors if the weather allows. Employees will also benefit from the fresh air and enjoy a change of office scenery.

Wear masks

Require meeting attendees to wear masks, particularly if physical distancing is difficult (i.e. using a smaller meeting space or many attendees). Communicate to employees that they should bring and use their cloth face covering during the entirety of the meeting. Remind them that the mask is meant to protect other people in case the wearer is sick yet asymptomatic.

Encourage hand washing

While good hand hygiene has always been recommended, it is even more important during the pandemic. Encourage employees to wash their hands before and after the meeting (soap and water for at least 20 seconds). Have hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol available throughout the office for easy and frequent use.

Virtual meetings

With many employees nationwide working remotely, virtual meetings have eliminated the need for many in-person meetings. However, keeping employees connected while not in the office can be a challenge. Utilize virtual meetings to communicate with employees and keep your team working efficiently.

Make the meeting efficient and productive

Before hosting your virtual meeting, find a date that works for attendees and communicate the time to the needed employees. Once in the meeting, encourage attendees to focus on the meeting content. Address issues at hand, interact with individuals as needed, and utilize chat features for questions.

Assist the non-tech savvy employee

Virtual platforms like Zoom, Skype, Google apps, and Microsoft Teams have become exponentially more popular during the pandemic. These are affordable and can be used to host one-on-one or large group meetings. However, not all employees are especially tech savvy and may struggle with the virtual meeting. Consider creating a detailed guide to help employees better learn to video chat. Remember to be patient and that practice makes perfect: eventually even the least tech-savvy employee will adapt to the new normal.

Be available post-meeting

Just like you would be in the office, be available for questions after the meeting. Stick around on the meeting platform for a few minutes after wrapping up or communicate the best way to reach you later on. Either way, employees shouldn’t be left hanging after hosting the meeting ends.

The new normal of office meetings

While always recommended, but especially important during the “new normal” office setting, employers should only organize meetings that are strictly necessary. Why organize a video chat or risk transmitting illness for information that can be communicated by other means? However, whether you love or hate them, meetings are an essential part of any business. Whether face-to-face or virtual, meetings can be highly productive but should be carried out safely and appropriately. Aim to keep them efficient by limiting the length of the meeting. With the other suggested adaptations, there is no doubt that your company can overcome the hurdle of hosting less meetings.

About Peta McGrath

Peta McGrath is an accomplished marketing and career advisor, specialising in helping women develop their best possible strategies for career and business advancement.

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