COVID-19 has dramatically changed the landscape of the training and development world. While many organizations have pivoted to fully virtual programming for the time being, most of us are eager to return to normal — or, at least, a version of normal that includes some good old fashion face-to-face.
Planning for this new normal won’t look the same. As we prepare for in-person training in a COVID-19 world, there are new factors to consider. In addition to traditional concerns like location, technology, quality of service, and food and beverage offering, we must now take extra precautions and select venues that are prepared to handle the unique safety concerns of learners, trainers, and venue staff. That means finding a venue that not only follows strict sanitation guidelines but also offers space and room configurations that promote physical distancing.
Large venues are uniquely positioned to handle socially distant training. Here’s why:
Large venues have large rooms. Spacious rooms are the most obvious benefit large venues have to offer when you consider returning to in-person learning. The bigger the room, the more people you can accommodate — even at 50% capacity and even with 6 ft. aisles between chairs. If you’re looking to gather your trainees for the first time since COVID-19 began, a huge space with a creative room configuration is a great way to ease into gathering again. Get your group together in the biggest room you can find, space them out and let them benefit from face-to-face interaction without getting close enough to sneeze on each other.
Large venues have lots of rooms. Some groups might be too big for effective communication in even the largest available room, but that doesn’t mean they can’t gather in a socially-distant manner. Other conference rooms and breakout rooms can be used as ancillaries to the larger space. If you reach limited capacity in the auditorium or want to keep group numbers down for a lower-risk gathering, consider placing small groups in breakout rooms with a live broadcast of your program. Additionally, you can allow others to live-stream the program from home and encourage those who may be at higher risk or have pre-existing conditions to stay home and stay safe. Make sure your venue has enough space and the right technology to handle multi-room broadcasts and live streams. Ideally, you’ll find a venue that provides on-site IT and AV support to ensure your program is glitch-free.
Large venues have large open spaces. Vast open spaces — both indoors and outdoors — can be repurposed to accommodate a learning program that requires a physically-distant setup. Many sizable venues include multiple buildings across a college-campus-like property that includes large outdoor gathering areas. These outdoor spaces offer a low-risk solution for socially-distant gatherings and give your program attendees the opportunity to pull down their face masks and breathe in some fresh air. However, a small venue with a spacious yard won’t cut it. If you select a venue for its large outdoor area, you’ll want to be sure its indoor spaces are also large enough to support your group in the event of rain.
With a large venue, you get more than spacious ballrooms and conference rooms. You’re also likely to find vast open areas, multiple buildings, bigger elevators, wider corridors, a larger dining room, and more spacious areas for refreshment breaks. Social distancing requires distance. These big spaces enable you to spread out program attendees in creative configurations that promote physical distancing.
In the wake of the pandemic, safety is the number one concern for any gathering or training program. With preventative measures like physical distancing as the first line of defense against the spread of COVID-19, space is more important than ever. And, right now, bigger is better.