In-person meetings used to be part and parcel of office life, but as employees start to return to the workplace, businesses need to re-evaluate how things are done, and put policies and procedures in place to allow team members to work in healthy, safe environments despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Workplace etiquette is evolving, and while face-to-face meetings are an essential part of business life in many sectors, they need to evolve too.
The Initial guide to hygienic meetings:
Here are some tips for conducting an office meeting that is both hygienic and productive during the global pandemic.
1. Disinfect and clean the room before and after use:
Ensure that the meeting room has had a good clean using a disinfectant before and after the meeting - paying particular attention to high-touch objects such as door handles, the table, and chair arms.
Cleaning refers to the removal of dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces, but cleaning alone does not kill germs. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill the germs on surfaces.
Read our previous blog on the difference between cleaning and disinfecting to ensure that daily cleaners are following the correct protocols for a hygienic meeting space.
2. Wash your hands
80% of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch*.
Always wash your hands before and after your meeting to minimise cross-contamination via physical contact or surfaces. We still believe that washing with soap is your number one defense against all sorts of illnesses - not just Coronavirus - so read all about why we love soap in this previous post.
And remember - it's important to wash your hands properly! That means with soap for at least 20 seconds and to also dry your hands thoroughly.
For a comprehensive look at handwashing practices in the office environment, download our Ultimate Guide to Handwashing - pack full of information and posters that you can use to remind staff of the importance of maintaining good hygiene practices.
3. No handshakes
Traditional greetings are on hold right now, so resist the urge to shake hands. You might try an unconventional elbow or toe tab instead, but neither of these options are mandatory. And we hope it goes without saying that hugs ( and kisses if you are European) are strictly off the menu too.
We actually wrote a whole post on ways to greet colleagues and associates in the post-pandemic workplace, which you can read in our post 'How to Greet Co-workers Post the COVID-19 Pandemic'.
4. Use a big room with fresh air
Choose a large room for meetings where people can sit socially distanced. If possible, open a window for some fresh air. If you can't open a window, make sure that your meeting room has VIRUSKILLER™ air purification technology for ultimate peace of mind.
You can read all about this revolutionary air purification technology in our article looking at the design behind the VIRUSKILLER™, or download our whitepaper on air hygiene to find out more on the subject.
5. Hand sanitiser. ALL the hand sanitiser...
Make sure there is plenty of hand sanitiser within easy reach for everyone, and a bin by the door to dispose of used tissues. If you've ever wondered whether you could use a non-alcohol hand sanitiser and still stay hygienic, read our previous blog post on which hand sanitiser is better.
6. Keep the conversation short
No waffling! Because the concentration of exhaled viruses can increase to infectious levels over time in a confined space, keeping meetings short and to the point is an essential part of remaining hygienic. And it should go without saying (we hope) that masks stay on at all times.
7. Follow up electronically
Skip the follow-up meeting and communicate any additional information by email or over the phone. If possible, arrange your next meeting via video or phone, rather than in person.
* Bean, B., Moore, B. M., & Sterner, B. (1982). Survival of influenza viruses on environmental surfaces. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 146 (1), 47-51
**When independently tested against Coronavirus DF2 (a surrogate for Coronavirus), Adenovirus, Influenza and Polio, the unit was found to kill 99.9999% of viruses on a single air pass.