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FRONT OF HOUSE RECONFIGURING MEETINGS


Meetings and conferences provide an opportunity for colleagues to meet up, shake hands, eat together and maybe share a drink. But in the post-lockdown era we will be nervous about doing any of these things. So, how will tomorrow’s conferences look – and what will be the impact on cleaning, asks Essity’s Stuart Hands?


Like many aspects of society, meetings and conferences have been put on hold during the COVID-19 emergency. Video conferencing apps such as Zoom and Teams have boomed as an increasing number of companies stage virtual meetings from home. Such meetings will become increasingly common as people adapt to the technology and realise that remote conferences are perfectly achievable.


However, face-to-face meetings are also important because they help to win contracts and forge new relationships. Important decisions are often made over a shared meal, a round of golf or a drink in the bar after the formal business of the day is concluded.


So, there is every likelihood that physical meetings, conferences and exhibitions will resume in the future. But how will they adapt to a post-coronavirus world?


The pandemic has alerted us to two key dangers when out and about: the risk of contracting the virus from the air,


50 | TOMORROW’S FM


and that of picking it up from frequently-touched surfaces, therefore meetings of the future should allow for social distancing while ensuring that all shared spaces are kept as clean and germ-free as possible.


Social distancing can be achieved in smaller meetings and conferences by accommodating fewer people in a room. Perhaps a few key team members will be physically present while others attend the meeting via video link.


Visual cues could be used to remind delegates about the need to self-distance. Commercial real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield has been helping businesses to reopen in China using a concept called the ‘Six Feet Office’ which uses bold colours and circle designs on carpets to allocate each employee a two-metre space.


However, accessing a meeting in the first place could be problematical in offices where employees and visitors are prone to congregate in the entrances, corridors and lifts.


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