For most of 2020, we have seen the COVID-19 pandemic unleash major changes in every aspect of our lives. The new norms took businesses all over the world by surprise, as no one was expecting all the white-collar workers to carry out their activities remotely, and that face to face meetings were replaced by video conferences.
To contain the spread of COVID-19, everyone must practice social distancing (you can call it “physical distancing” if you like or keeping 1.5m away from other people) and follow a set of rules. Even though the coronavirus pandemic had a devastating impact on face to face meetings and human social interaction (and we saw virtual offices become the new norm), office buildings can create a safe and healthy workplace for workers and clients as long as they take some key protective measures. In-person meetings cannot simply disappear as they play a fundamental role in business by building trust and strengthening relationships. The only difference is that they must abide by new rules against the backdrop of the global pandemic.
When it comes to safe face to face meetings in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic (inside the meeting rooms of a virtual office or any kind of office) two key elements must be underlined:
- The safety measures that are taken inside a building (such as providing hand sanitiser and cleaning and disinfecting all the surfaces)
- The safety measures people take during face to face interaction (such as wearing a face mask and keeping the distance from each other).
Table of Contents:
- How the COVID-19 pandemic changed business norms?
- How B2B HQ meets COVID-19 hygiene norms?
- Special thanks to Hygienic Fog
1. How the COVID-19 pandemic changed business norms?
I have good and bad news for you. The bad news (everyone says that you should give the bad news first) is that the business environment might change dramatically in a post-COVID-19 world and, no matter if you like it or not, you must follow a new set of norms. (However, I am probably not telling you anything that you have not been told before.)
The good news however, is that business etiquette did not change a lot after all. You still have to greet everyone, be on time, and dress appropriately (I hope that I am not the only one attending a video conference with a professional shirt on but out of frame, I am in my pajama pants).
No matter how safe the place is where you conduct your business meetings, bear in mind that you cannot avoid following the new social norms. Such as staying at least 1.5 m away from people around you, wearing a face mask, avoiding skin to skin contact, etc).
Below you will find the three business etiquette rules that the coronavirus pandemic changed:
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a strong handshake was playing a fundamental role in every business meeting as it could strengthen your image and set a solid foundation for a new business relationship. A handshake was not only underlying self-confidence, but it was also a key element in a verbal commitment to a transaction (a “handshake deal”). The business world was quick to adopt the “elbow bump” as the new handshake but unfortunately, it does not have the same bond that a handshake has and instead leaves both participants feel awkward with what to do with their arms (this is not to mention the awkward part of one person trying to shake a hand and being rejected or the dreaded “no contact stare”). So, until a better solution comes along, I guess that this is how we can use our body and words to replace handshake greetings and agreements.
- Eye contact
Eye contact was extremely important also in the business environment before the COVID-19 pandemic. Nowadays, establishing eye contact became even more significant as face masks can restrict our ability to express and perceive each other’s facial expressions. Therefore, COVID-19 pandemic changed the role of eye contact and gave it a higher value. You should pay even more attention to the power of eye contact and the message it sends to the person in front of you.
- Physical distance
Nowadays, you must find a way to build trust and confidence during your business meetings even if you are forced to keep the distance from the person you discuss with. In the past, you might have appeared as cold and reticent if you were staying away from the person in front of you. Now, you have no choice. You will have to learn how to use body language in order to appear less distant and more engaged in a discussion.
2. How B2B HQ meets COVID-19 hygiene norms?
A virtual office can provide two types of services that may require your presence in a specific office building (where the virtual business address provided by the virtual office is): (1) meeting rooms and boardrooms you may need in case you don’t want to meet your clients in your home office or in a cafe (that wouldn’t be such a good idea for your business image) and (2) a secure business mailbox where you can check your physical mail (unless your mail and parcels are not forwarded to a specific address). No matter why you choose to enter the office building of your virtual office provider, you must be sure that it meets all the COVID-19 hygiene norms (just like B2B HQ does).
- Screening at the entrance
B2B HQ’s screening process includes measurement of body temperature using a non-contact thermometer in order to identify visitors that have fever (higher than 37.3 °C), as high body temperature is one of the most common COVID-19 symptoms.
- Professional cleaning and disinfecting of all rooms
All the surfaces in the B2B HQ building (such as furniture, doors, doorknobs, etc) are cleaned and disinfected in order to avoid the spread of the coronavirus (B2B HQ did this professional deep-clean fogging treatment on October 27, thanks to Hygienic Fog who use a Decastat Product that protects surfaces for up to 60 days). For the moment it is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. According to a study published in the Virology Journal, it can remain on surfaces for up to 28 days. The Decastat product used at B2B HQ protects surfaces and keeps them protected.
- After every use cleaning and disinfecting of all rooms
The ordinary cleaning of all the surfaces within the building is necessary before and after each meeting (for example, someone can use alcohol or bleach at a recommended concentration in order to sanitise surfaces). However, this type of sanitisation should not replace professional disinfection required at a specific time interval (for example, once a month or once every two months).
- Proper ventilation
Ventilation must be available in all meeting rooms, by keeping doors and windows open as much as possible and using modern and professional air cleaners and air conditioning systems. According to an article published by BBC, good ventilation could be the key to avoiding coronavirus. Air purifiers and air conditioner filtration systems help B2B HQ ensure proper ventilation.
- Providing hand sanitiser and face masks
All visitors must use alcohol-based hand-rubbing sanitiser (or, alternatively, disinfecting wipes) and wear a face mask. Hand hygiene and nose and mouth covering are the most effective actions someone can take in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. At the entrance of B2B HQ everyone is provided with these materials free of charge.
3. Special thanks to Hygienic Fog
Hygienic Fog used the latest technology to clean and disinfect B2B HQ’s office building. The treatment is effective up to 60 days against 99.9% of germs and viruses (including COVID-19, gastrointestinal viruses, golden staph, various types of bacteria, and more.)
They use high-quality hygienic fog to kill germs and bacteria (no worries, it is safe for you, your pets, and the environment). The fog’s tiny particles can penetrate an extensive surface area including ceilings, walls, furniture, and floors.
If you need it, they can come to your house as well (they don’t care if your house is completely messy after months of working from home with children).
To sum up, the COVID-19 pandemic changed a few business norms. Nowadays, you are allowed to stay away from the person in front of you and to avoid handshake, as well as to use the power of eye contact in order to replace handshake greetings and facial expressions that are hidden by the face mask.
However, it is not enough that ONLY YOU take all the safety measures against the spread of COVID-19 during face to face meetings or when checking your business mailbox. Your virtual office provider must ensure as well you and anyone else in the office building are safe by taking specific hygiene measures. One of the most efficient hygiene measures is the professional sanitisation of all the surfaces inside the building. Together with proper ventilation and other measures (such as measuring the temperature of the visitors, an ordinary sanitisation before and after each meeting, and providing hand sanitiser and face masks) it can contain the spread of COVID-19.
And last but not least, if you are looking for a safe and hygienic location where to satisfy your customers’ needs for face to face interaction, we would be more than glad if you could consider B2B HQ’s branch office as well.