We all have a responsibility to keep others healthy, especially after the recent pandemic. That doesn’t mean we can’t have events, though! We just need to take the proper precautions. If you need to plan a corporate event, you have more things to consider than ever before. Not only do you need to consider the catering, venue, transportation, and decorations, but you also need to keep people healthy. Here are some tips on organizing a successful socially distanced corporate event.

1. Food

Buffets can provide a simple solution to feed a large number of people. However, buffets aren’t as safe as other options. People may sneeze or cough on the food. Also, someone may unintentionally touch food on the buffet. You also can’t have popcorn stands or charcuterie boards. When planning a socially distanced corporate event, you need to pick foods that won’t lead to contamination or sharing.

Consider giving everybody their own plate in a sit-down-style dinner. This ensures that no one but the chef and the eater will interact with the food, keeping it safe. Of course, this can lead to increased costs. You will need a verified headcount to provide the correct amount of meals. This can get complicated for people with special dietary needs, so create a way for people to select their meals and record any allergies or preferences.

It is also vital to check the supplier’s compliance with food safety standards. Ensure that they have the certification to operate so you can guarantee that your participants are in excellent hands. You may do this by requesting their credentials during an ocular inspection. Pretty sure they’ll be more than happy to oblige.

2. Communication

Communication during the event is crucial. You need staff to talk freely to keep everybody up to date on needs and issues as they arise. You can’t have staff running through the venue or, even worse, screaming at each other to provide information. You need a two-way communication system. A two-way communication system involves a headset so that people can discretely communicate with each other when necessary. You can be in the middle of the venue and talk to the kitchen or the greeters with ease.

You will need to determine who needs the headsets the most and when they need to be used. Clarify expectations with everyone. You don’t want someone to take their headset off when you may need to talk to them.

Organisers of events must display utmost professionalism on the day of the event and conduct themselves as experts in what they do. For this, a detailed meeting before the event is essential, so everyone knows their responsibilities and adheres to the tasks handed out to everyone. If you need help on how to plan a successful conference, reliable resources are available online.

Since events like this have particular needs and requirements, each person assigned must enforce strict standards, especially if they see participants not complying. A standard response to each scenario must be discussed beforehand so everyone knows what to say, especially in challenging situations. It’s also crucial that everyone is in sync and no one is creating their own script.

3. Venue

The venue plays a large role in the event as well as the social distancing. If possible, you want to pick an outdoor venue. Outdoor venues have more space, and the natural airflow increases safety. Any airborne illnesses will get the opportunity to float off into the sky. Some popular outdoor venues include:

• Parks
• Farms
• Beaches
• Rooftops
• Large backyards
• Forest preserves

However, outdoor venues aren’t always possible if the weather doesn’t permit them. If you need to use an indoor venue, you can still make it safe. Pick an indoor venue with great ventilation. Also, pick an indoor venue with plenty of room.

4. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and Safety Precautions

Most people have their own PPE with them when they go into public. It’s the new normal these days. However, as host of the event, you should provide PPE for people who forgot or need additional equipment.

At the very entrance of the venue, provide individually packaged masks. Have an employee take the temperature of each guest. Anyone with a fever should go home. Also, supply hand sanitiser at each table or have hand sanitising stations.

Your event should have assigned point persons in charge of monitoring if safety precautions are being followed and if supplies are available for everyone. Also, make sure that you have an adequate supply of sanitisers and face masks for anyone who might need them. 

5. Seating

Prior to Covid-19, many party planners crammed people together to fit as many guests as possible. That is not an option anymore. Tables and chairs need to be six feet apart at all times. If you can add even more space, that’s better.

If people need to get in line throughout the event, you should put x’s on the floor six feet apart to guide people. The markings on the ground will keep people an appropriate distance apart while in line.

6. Guest List

Your event’s guest list plays a large role in the safety of the event. While many organisations want to include as many people as possible in their corporate events, it might not be the safest option. Have a clear conversation about who can come to the event. Start with the top executives and work your way down the hierarchy until you fill capacity.

Pick a venue with more than enough space for events specifically designed to incorporate everyone. Clarify with the client what they consider large enough so that everyone is on the same page. Just keep in mind that larger venues may add to the final bill of the event, so you want to manage expectations regarding cost.

7. Entertainment/Activities

Every good event has entertainment or activities for the guests. Many corporate events will get a DJ and encourage people to get on the dance floor. However, dancing puts people too close together. Other corporate events have karaoke, but everyone will need to touch and sing into the microphone. What can you do?

Consider hiring entertainment that doesn’t require participation or physical interaction with the crowd. Look into singers, magicians, or comedians. You can also set up individual activities outside. Try individual sports, such as rollerblading or creative projects.

Corporate events are important. It’s a great way for corporations to appreciate employees or clients. It’s also a great way to network or promote a business. Unfortunately, most events were cancelled last year. As we get back to normal operations, it’s crucial to keep things safe so that we don’t fall back to zero events.

These tips can help you organise an event that people feel comfortable at. People will feel comfortable, but it will show that the company values safety and health. Plus, everyone will be healthy for work the next day.

  • About the Author
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Author: Rick Farrell, President, Plant-Tours.com

Farrell is North America’s foremost expert in improving manufacturing group communication, education, training and group hospitality processes. He has over 40 years of group hospitality experience, most recently serving as President of Plant-Tours.com for the last 18 years.  He has provided consulting services with the majority of Fortune 500 industrial corporations improving group communication dynamics of all types in manufacturing environments.