The office conference room pre-COVID was many times the only place where teams could come together face-to-face to discuss big projects and keep those projects moving. Now, as we all know, most businesses are working remotely, forcing team meetings to take place behind screens.
On rare occasions, however, in-person meetings are still happening. So, it’s important that we pay some attention to this once populous space, the conference room, and take a look at how teams today can still get together when they need to and do so safely.
How to Create a Safe Conference Room
The basics of COVID conference room safety are similar to the principles that apply to the rest of your office. Maintaining six feet of space between employees is the big one. So far, we’ve pretty much figured out how to socially distance at a desk. The conference room, however, is not as easy. The entire purpose of the conference room is to bring people together. So, how can we keep the conference room alive in the era of COVID-19? Here are 6 ways to do just that.
Take Your Team’s Temperatures
As each employee enters the office before a meeting, take their temperature with a non-touch thermometer. The CDC lists a fever as an acceptable screening for COVID-19 and considers a fever to be a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher. Temperature checks take only a few seconds per employee and can effectively keep sick people out of the conference room before they have a chance to spread the virus.
You can transmit the coronavirus before you’re exhibiting symptoms, like a fever. So, even if your employees pass their temperature checks, masks should still be worn by everyone attending the meeting. You’ll want to keep a stash of masks in the office for when an employee or two inevitably forgets theirs.
If you find that masks make it tough to understand what’s being said around the table, another choice is a face shield. Face shields may make the conversation of the meeting flow a little better without a mask muffling everyone’s words.
Arrange the Table and Chairs to Ensure Physical Distancing
Once inside the conference room, the layout of the room and the arrangement of the furniture become two of the most important variables for conducting a safe team meeting.
An easy way to make the conference room safer is to simply remove every other chair around the conference table. This helps people maintain a socially-distanced 6-feet of space around them during a meeting. You may say, however, that ‘if we remove half of the chairs, we can’t fit our entire team in the conference room.’ If that’s the case, one solution that’s worked well for businesses is placing small tables and individual chairs around the room to create additional physically-distanced meeting space.
When you need to create space between employees, a long, wide conference table is ideal. If you haven’t already, upgrade to a conference table that allows as many members of your team to sit at a time while still physically distanced.
However you decide to arrange the tables and chairs, keep your meeting groups small. The more people you allow into the conference room, the more opportunity you give a virus to spread.
Install Wellness Screens and Dividers
Once your fever-free, masked team arrives in the conference room and takes their socially-distanced seats, you can protect them even more by placing a plastic divider between each employee sitting around the table. A portable acrylic divider is easy-to-disinfect and doesn’t obstruct anyone’s view or ability to participate in the conversation.
You can even go one step further and place a 3-sided wellness divider in front of every employee. This is highly recommended if your conference table is small and you can’t create 6 feet of space between you and the person sitting across the table.
Schedule Meeting Times
The safety of the post-COVID conference room will also come down to smart schedule management. Require employees to schedule meeting times in advance. This will help avoid a conference room traffic jam and reduce the chance of people getting too close to one another as they go in and out of the room. There are several meeting room scheduling platforms available and worth looking into, including Skedda and Teem.
When you set up your meeting schedule, add a buffer at the end of each meeting so there’s enough time to clean. Play it safe and disinfect the conference room after each use. Tabletops, chairs, acrylic dividers and all other surfaces should be disinfected with an EPA-recommended cleaning agent. Here’s a list of EPA-recommended disinfectants for coronavirus so you can make sure the products you’re using are actually killing the virus.
Keep Meetings Brief
Pre-COVID, office workers were used to one hour meetings that should have been 15-minute meetings. Now, post-COVID, meetings have no choice but to be short and efficient. We know no one’s shedding a tear over this change!
The longer the meeting, the greater the chance that a virus will spread from one employee to another. So, get in, get out and run your meetings as efficiently as possible.
It’s Time to Get Together (Safely) Once Again
Our ability to get back to work and work together again safely is just a few post-COVID conference room changes away. With the right safety procedures, office furniture and cleaning practices, you’ll be ready to safely collaborate in-person with your team once again.
The folks at Nolt’s are here and ready to help you find the right furniture for your post-COVID conference room. Our showroom is now open and stocked with conference tables, chairs, dividers and more. Come visit us and talk with our team about how to create a safe post-COVID conference room today.