The COVID-19 crisis is far from over, with 22.4 million Americans infected and counting. Despite this, many institutions continue to do business as usual, which is also understandable since the economy needs to recover. And now that there are multiple vaccines currently being rolled out in the U.S., things seem to be on the up and up, and there are plenty of updates that we can be hopeful about.
But going back to work and holding corporate activities shouldn’t come at the expense of our employees’ health and safety, especially since our frontline healthcare workers need all the help they can get. If you’re thinking about holding corporate events or team-building activities for your company or business this year, here are some safety precautions to consider before you start planning.
Limit the number of participants.
Regardless of how big your company is, consider limiting the number of people you’re going to invite or consider doing it by shifts. As of this writing, gathering restrictions vary from state to state. The majority only allows a percentage of people based on a building’s capacity, with different tiers indicating how many people are allowed to gather together. Before you start planning, research what your state will allow and abide by them.
Discourage people from going if they’re not feeling well.
This should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately, something that still needs to be stated in black and white, especially with so many people putting their work above their health most of the time. Discourage people from going regardless of their symptoms. Even if they don’t have COVID-19, they would still have a significantly weaker immune system and might be more vulnerable if they have any other kind of virus. Remind your team that their health and safety come first, and they don’t need to force themselves to participate if they’re feeling under the weather.
Practice minimal public health standards.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that there are levels of risk associated with large gatherings. They say that the number of people, the venue, and if it allows for physical distancing should be considered. The highest risk for infection involves a large gathering in an enclosed space with no room for physical distancing and everyone going maskless. Combat this by ensuring the following:
- Be smart about the venue. Choose an event place like a farm wedding venue that’s wide enough to allow the participants to spread out and keep a distance of at least six feet, or somewhere that also has an outdoor option. Remember that the highest risk involves a large number of people gathering in an indoor space that’s also enclosed, meaning the air just re-circulates. If you must do an indoor gathering, ask the venue landlord if the windows can be opened instead.
- Encourage everyone to wear masks. Unfortunately, mask-wearing has become politicized in the U.S. Still, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers have the right to require employees to wear masks, or other protective gear as gowns or gloves, during a pandemic. As business owners and employers, we have the mandate to provide and maintain a reasonably safe and healthy workplace for all our employees. This is why procedures and policies that support employee health and safety are critical, regardless of the push-back you might receive. If anyone is uncomfortable with wearing masks during your corporate event, tell them kindly and patiently that they are free to skip the event. At the same time, make sure to discourage any form of mask-shaming in your company.
- Hold activities that don’t require close contact. Hold off on the contact games and sports for now.
- Enforce physical distancing. Discourage everyone from hugs and kisses, no matter how much they missed each other.
- Strategically place alcohol-based sanitizers in every area of the venue. You can also give small ones as a small token or a giveaway so that they can keep it in their person at all times.
If All Else Fails
As a business or company owner, it is incumbent upon you to ensure your employees’ health and safety, especially in the workplace setting. This is why it’s important to do all that you can to help keep infections at bay, whether in the office or a special corporate event. At the end of the day, if these precautions feel like too much work, consider postponing your corporate event until the pandemic is over, or at the very least when cases are down or when the U.S. has flattened, if not squashed, the curve.