The COVID crisis has made businesses re-evaluate how to ensure employee safety, health, and well-being as states gradually move through phased re-openings. Apart from new CDC guidelines for outdoor events, there are considerations to take into account for large employee gatherings, such as employee appreciation events and company picnics to name a few. Businesses can still have such events, as long as they take the necessary precautions, and they may be less susceptible for COVID spread than enclosed spaces.
We count down the top five outdoor corporate event ideas in the “new normal,” followed by a checklist of guidelines to ensure a safe environment for all.
1. Company Picnics
When planning your next corporate retreat, company picnics provide a viable option where you can rent outdoor spaces with plenty of room for social distancing and outdoor dining options.
Company picnics can be a refreshing way to make employees feel energized after the long lockdown and with regular sanitation, expert supervision and social distancing signage, it can still be carried out in a disciplined manner that helps staff and employees feel safe while meeting colleagues and friends.
2. Drive-in Concerts
Event planners can expand their creative thinking and still provide the experiences of a concert during COVID times. Hello, “Drive-In Cinemas!”
With ample spacing being leased out by empty parking lots and empty grounds, event planners can use the golden opportunity of better rental rates to bring live entertainment to the comfort of employees and their families in the safety of their cars.
3. Drive-In Cinemas
Following close behind drive-in concerts, drive-in cinemas can be more of a family entertainment option for employees. Event planners can use this idea as an excellent opportunity for live family entertainment in the comfort of their cars.
Making sure there are enough sanitation equipment and food packages to be distributed to the individual cars, this can be a more affordable option for corporate events on a budget.
4. Outdoor Camping
While taking necessary precautions, corporate event planners can create camping activities for employees as a corporate retreat in the outdoors than risky confined business spaces.
Employees can now enjoy the great outdoors in the summer at a local park with their loved ones, under the supervision of event planners fully trained in the latest safety measures. Be sure to keep an ample supply of masks and hand sanitizer and remind employees to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
5. Outdoor Hiking and Dine-In
Another great option for corporate event planners seeking to provide employees with the thrill of the outdoors while reconnecting with their peers is a hiking trail tour with an outdoor dine-in setting. Event planners can see which local park is easily accessible for employees and make sure there are ample parking spaces or transportation to and from the hiking trail.
To make sure there is less risk of exposure, different hiking trails can be distributed amongst groups of employees to avoid clustering too many people together. Refreshments can also be distributed with staggered time slots to limit the congregation.
As in-person gatherings fall in the higher and highest risk, special care must be taken to enhance the safety and health of all. Businesses that want to hold outdoor events for employees, must work closely with local state and health officials and CDC Guidelines to ensure reduced exposure to individuals.
Here are some precautions that should be taken when planning such employee-related events, whether in business venues or outdoor spaces like parks and open grounds.
Outdoor and Employee Appreciation Events Best Practices
When planning outdoor events, educate staff and employees about when they should stay home.
Advise employees and event staff to stay home if they have tested positive for COVID, showing COVID symptoms or have been in close contact with a person who has symptoms of COVID within the past 14 days.
Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette
Require frequent employee handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, employees can use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Encourage employees and staff to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing.
Face Coverings and Greetings
Attendees can engage in alternative handshakes, such as fist bumps or air high-fives. Display outdoor signs (physical and/or electronic) that discourage physical contact during the event.
Require the use of cloth face coverings among staff and employees at the gathering. Provide all staff with information on proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings. These face masks should not be placed upon babies or children younger than 2 years old and anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face-covering without assistance.
Adequate Outdoor Event Supplies
Ensure careful planning before the employee appreciation event and provide adequate supplies. These could include soap, water, hand sanitizer containing at least 60 per cent alcohol, paper towels, tissues, disinfectant wipes, cloth face coverings (as feasible), and no-touch trash cans.
Cleaning and Disinfection for Sanitation
Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces at least daily or in-between uses— for example, door handles, sink handles, drinking fountains, grab bars, and hand railings.
Consider closing areas such as drinking fountains that cannot be adequately cleaned and disinfected during an event.
Develop a schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection.
Employee Transportation to Venue
If transportation vehicles such as buses are used by event staff, drivers should practice all safety precautions and protocols and offer passengers a buffer in between seats and rows. Better yet, use your own vehicle for transportation if possible.
Consider limiting the number of people who can occupy the restroom at one time. Do not allow lines or crowds to form near the restroom without maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from other people. It may be helpful to post signs or markers to help attendees maintain the appropriate social distance of at least 6 feet.
If you are providing portable toilets, also provide portable handwashing stations and ensure that they remain stocked throughout the duration of the event. If possible, provide hand sanitizer stations that are touch-free.
Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and increase the circulation of outdoor air as much as possible. Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk to staff or attendees (e.g., risk of falling or triggering asthma symptoms).
If portable ventilation equipment, like fans, is used, take steps to minimize air from blowing from one person directly at another person to reduce the potential spread.
Limit attendance or seating capacity to allow for social distancing, or host smaller events in larger areas. Use multiple entrances and exits and discourage crowded waiting areas. Block off rows or sections of seating in order to space people at least 6 feet apart.
Physical Barriers and Guides
Provide physical guides to ensure that individuals remain at least 6 feet apart in lines and at other times (e.g., guides for creating one-way routes). Install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions, in areas where it is difficult for individuals to remain at least 6 feet apart. Barriers can be useful at cash registers and other areas where maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet is difficult.
If a cafeteria or group dining room setting is used, serve individually plated meals or grab-and-go options, and hold activities in separate areas. Use disposable food service items including utensils and dishes. If disposable items are not feasible or desirable, ensure that all non-disposable food service items are handled with gloves and washed with dish soap and hot water or in a dishwasher.
Individuals should wash their hands after removing their gloves or after directly handling food service items. Avoid offering any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and drink stations. Consider having pre-packaged boxes or bags for each attendee.
Limited, Staggered, or Rotating Shifts and Attendance
Rotate or stagger shifts and arrival times to limit the number of employees in a venue at the same time. Stagger and limit attendance times to minimize the number of guests at the venue. Reconfigure parking lots to limit gathering points and ensure proper separation of employees (e.g., closing every other parking space).
These are precautionary measures laid out by the CDC, and if followed in tandem with local authority guidelines, outdoor events can still be hosted for employees while maintaining health and safety for all.
If you are looking to plan an outdoor business event, get in touch today and our experiential experts can help you with all the necessary details to keep your event safe and memorable.