Much of my work remains online, as it was exclusively through the first two years of the COVID pandemic.
While many of my clients and groups have been delighted to discover in the past two years just how engaging and effective online events can be, many are now for good reasons keen to gather in person again as well when they can.
Like them, I have been considering how best to respond to the continuing risk of infection and disruption due to COVID. In discussing and agreeing with them how best to respond to such risks together, I have drafted the following to inform such discussions with future clients and groups.
What conclusions have you drawn about how to respond to such risks, and what resources have you developed? Please do share in a comment below.
In my contracting with clients, I propose that:
- As long as COVID remains a risk to the health and the work of all of us, we should all continue to take such risks into account as we agree how to work together
- Our respective attitudes and appetite for risk are likely to be affected by the prevalence and impact of COVID and associated regulations where we are, by our own personal experience, and by cultural, economic and other factors – all of which may vary between us
- COVID safety should be taken into account in the selection of venues for in person and hybrid events by, for example, ensuring adequate space, windows that can be opened to allow fresh air ventilation, and a notice of the venue’s COVID safety measures that might reassure attendees
- Those invited to in person and hybrid events should be informed in advance of any COVID safety measures put in place by the client, the venue and/or by relevant local authorities, and requested or invited to take additional measures themselves as well (see below)
- In case it may be appropriate to offer some element of remote participation in an otherwise in person event, thus making it a hybrid event, this should be agreed in advance and reflected in the budget and scope of work – to add remote participation to an event designed and prepared for only in person participation can be a great deal more complex, risky and time-consuming than designing and preparing a hybrid (or wholly online) event from the outset
- In that case it will be important to clarify the aims and scope of remote participation relative to those of in-person participation in the hybrid event – to provide a truly equitable experience for both remote and in-person participants can be done, and can be one well, but often at the cost of greater complexity and risk, and therefore also time and budget
- In the event that one or more members of the group are unable to attend in person due to COVID (see below), it will be assumed that the event will go ahead without them (or with them participating remotely if it is a hybrid event) unless some explicit arrangement is agreed for cancellation or postponement
- In the event that one or more facilitators or trainers are unable to attend in person due to COVID (see below), I shall reschedule or arrange for a suitably experienced colleague to substitute in person where possible, and/or we will take part remotely where appropriate. Failing that, if appropriate, I shall offer to support the client or one or more of the group to lead the event without me. Unless some explicit arrangement is agreed for such an eventuality, I shall charge as agreed (only) for work delivered, for example consultation, design, preparation, facilitation and/or documentation
- Clients may be reassured to know that to date I have had three COVID vaccinations and I have recovered from one COVID infection.
In my advance invitation to groups attending in person, and in contracting with them at the start of an event, I propose that:
- COVID remains a risk to your health and that of others, and thus to all of our work as well, so we should continue to take such risks into account as we agree how to work together
- Some of us may be anxious about attending in person, and/or particularly vulnerable to COVID infection, even as others may be less so – please take measures to reduce anxiety and risk for others if not also for yourself
- Please comply with any COVID safety measures required by the client, the venue and by relevant local authorities (links provided)
- Please test for COVID soon before attending
- Please do not attend in person if you test positive or if you have COVID-like symptoms – mindful that COVID symptoms may be similar to those of a cold or flu, and we can test negative for several days before we test positive
- Please bring a mask with you and feel welcome to wear it, and be prepared to wear it if asked to do so – masks may also be provided
- Please pay attention to your distance from others, and respect each other’s personal space as best you can
- Windows will be opened where possible to allow fresh air ventilation
- Please let us know of any other particular concerns or suggestions you have in relation to COVID safety, in advance or at the start of the event, and be prepared to respect each others’ concerns and suggestions.