It’s that time of year when we all get excited to celebrate the holidays with our friends, family, and coworkers. Company holiday parties are often a highlight of the year and an excellent way to celebrate everyone’s hard work, be social with each other, and show your employees that you appreciate them. However, with COVID-19 still lurking, you might be wondering how to host a COVID-19 friendly company party.
The CDC website has information to help those planning a gathering to do it as safely as possible. They encourage event planners to check with state and local health officials regarding what limitation there may be and what is required to gather safely. The virus circulation varies in different communities, so these considerations are meant to supplement, not replace, any state or local regulations.
The CDC indicates that the risks of COVID-19 spreading at events and gatherings increases as follows (sourced directly from CDC.gov):
Lowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings.
More risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear masks, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
Higher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.
Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.
As you can see, according to the CDC, the risk is not as high when individuals can maintain social distancing of at least 6 ft. So when you are choosing the event space for your company party, chances are you won’t want to host it in the breakroom at work. Generally, gathering areas within the workplace are inadequate for a party and only accommodate a small group of people at a time who are taking a quick lunch break. If you are hosting a company party that includes all of your employees, finding a larger venue will help decrease the risk. Finding an event space that has both indoor and outdoor areas is a major bonus! If people have the ability to stay spread out and let the air circulate within the building from outside, the risk is also decreased.
One of the most important things to do is keep your guests informed. Let them know that if they are feeling ill or have a fever, they should stay home. If masks are required within the event facility, be sure guests are prepared to bring their own masks. It is a good idea to be prepared to give guests masks if someone forgets theirs. If masks are not required by the event facility, but you still choose to require them as an employer, make sure that is clear as well. Sending this information out in an email and posting a reminder sign at the door before guests enter should help.
The way you set up the event space for guests will help them maintain social distancing. If you choose to have tables, consider assigning each guest their own seat and encouraging them to only sit in their chair and eat food or drink at their seat. In an event space with adequate room, you can find a way to arrange tables and chairs to be 6ft apart. If your company is very large and has too many people to safely social distance in one place, consider hosting two different parties. By grouping together departments that tend to work more closely together and separating them into two different groups, guests may feel more comfortable and able to social distance themselves. Keeping the guests list limited to employees only can also help minimize risk. Guests bringing a plus one from outside their home or workplace could put others at risk.
Deciding on whether or not to serve food and drinks can feel like a difficult decision. Eating and drinking means people will be removing their masks and touching things that they are putting in their mouths. If you decide to serve food, consider using a catering service rather than a having potluck. This way there is a trained food handler who is already skilled at keeping the food area clean and they will be the only ones touching the food before it is served to guests.
All things considered, you want your guests to feel comfortable at the company party, right? If you feel unsure whether to have food and drinks or require masks, taking a company-wide poll can help. There are tools available to build an anonymous survey so employees can vote on what safety measures would make them comfortable and feel like they’re at a COVID-19 friendly company party.
If you’re feeling ready to host a COVID-19 friendly company party, Cooper’s Ridge has a large event space available for you! Our facilities offer modern amenities, including a large covered patio and spacious indoor event space with an open floor plan, so we can help you create a layout that works for your needs. We offer 1, 2, and 3-day reservation packages that can accommodate multi-day parties to keep capacities safe if necessary. Contact us today to discuss your next event!