How to Hold Meetings with Social Distancing

May 19, 2020 Categories: Business

Fed up of reading and hearing about the ‘new normal’? Worried about what it might mean for your business?

You’re not alone.

No one really knows what lies ahead, but as the lockdown is gradually reduced and eventually withdrawn, one thing is for certain: there is a future to look forward to.

We’ll all obviously need to adapt a bit. And now is the time to start doing that, or at least begin planning how to integrate social distancing measures into your organisation when the doors swing open once more.

Today, we’ll consider how this will impact one of the most common elements of business: meetings.

The new era of meetings

Before COVID-19, meetings were just part and parcel of running a business, and no one would think twice about filing into a room packed with colleagues or customers.

Now, meetings are under close scrutiny. At the time of writing, social distancing measures require people to work from home and prevent gatherings of more than two people in public areas, unless essential.

If your business normally holds physical meetings this is going to present something of a challenge. However, just as supermarkets have adapted and enabled customers to continue shopping, you can do the same when it comes to meetings.

Here’s how.

Ask the most important question: What is this meeting for?

If you consider the recent adoption of home working, it appears to have taken an international pandemic to force some businesses to rethink their processes and way of life.

The same goes for meetings. How often have you asked, “why is this meeting needed?” before heading into that room? And, how often have you sat there, clock watching, wondering what on earth anyone is getting out of the session?

Use the post-COVID landscape to adjust your stance on meetings. Always ask the question above before agreeing to the meeting. If the answer is one of the following:

  • “we need to talk again about Project X”
  • “we need a status update from every single department”
  • “I’m not sure, but I think Dave’s got a problem with something”

…there are deeper issues at play, and you need to find the root cause of the problem. Otherwise, pointless and lengthy meetings will continue.

When meetings are physically challenging to hold, make sure everyone is ultra-cautious about the need for any gathering. The “why” question will often reveal a hidden issue that can be addressed without a meeting taking up everyone’s time.

Think virtual first

Depending on how strict the social distancing measures are, you may need to adopt a virtual-first approach for meetings for the foreseeable future.

This applies for both workers at home and those in the office; holding a virtual meeting in the same building is actually a great way to abide by social distancing measures.

Thankfully, if COVID-19 has revealed anything, it’s that we have an abundance of brilliant remote tools that enable teams to meet and collaborate effectively, no matter where they are. Sure, it has its challenges and will never be like meeting up in person, but it does work.

If social distancing is a necessity, there needs to be a really good reason for having a physical meeting (such as the presentation of a physical object with which people need to interact).

When a physical meeting is unavoidable

If you’ve reached this point and you’ve, a) decided a meeting is absolutely necessary, and, b) realised it simply can’t be undertaken remotely, you’ll need to follow government guidelines on social distancing.

At the very least, this means ensuring that everyone is two metres apart. Depending on the space you have available, that might mean moving the meeting to a different location if you can’t accommodate everyone or reducing the headcount strategically so that only key stakeholders are present.

It’s also important to ensure there is plenty of hand sanitiser available, and a clear instruction for attendees not to come along if they’re displaying any COVID-19 symptoms.

Shaking hands will of course be a no-no, and if you need to demonstrate products, providing one per person (if possible) will avoid handing around any surface which could transmit the virus.

This won’t last forever

Like so many things at the moment, this new way of holding meetings doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

The good news is that this won’t last forever. It’ll take time to get back to the normal way of meeting, but until then, we need to work together to ensure the world of work continues to fire slowly back into action.

We hope this blog has helped, but if you want to chat to the Chandlers team about anything you think we can help you with, just get in touch!