All kinds of meetings, small and big, have been the salt and pepper of being a Goforean. Informal gatherings are where the magic happens when people meet colleagues and people in different roles. It makes life rich and just.. well, life!
The corona isolation has been a big blow for communality and online coffee sessions just are not the same as real people and real beer (of course). At Gofore, we are using a traffic light model for COVID safety, and the Helsinki office has been in a red state meaning that all the big gatherings should be avoided. So we wanted to organize an event in a manner that translates to walking against the red lights on crossroads.
Taking the science into account
When somebody crosses a street during a red light, that somebody looks all the directions very carefully. This was also the principle we followed.
About the COVID virus, we knew.
In practice, eating and drinking are not possible with the mask on so some compromises had to be made. Our compromise was to have a table group where it is ok to be without a mask, but once you are outside the table, everybody should have a mask on.
Our goal was to translate a big 40 people gathering into 10 separate 4 people gatherings. Eating and drinking would happen in the table with the same group. For everything else, mask. So in theory, you should be able to contaminate a maximum number of 4 people.
Finnish autumn and outdoors, you crazy?
We had a great opportunity to get arrangements from Dylan Böle which has a nice inner yard. All the participants were advised to take enough warm clothes for the chilly weather. Luckily, the weather was almost hot. The inner yard sheltered people from the wind and the sun was shining above. Later in the evening people started digging their long johns.
The restaurant provided the hand sanitizer and washing facilities. (food and drinks also) Our great office queen Ella provided that masks with our volunteer Eero.
What did we learn?
For me, everything worked mostly as planned for the COVID countermeasures. People were able to stay still at the table and used masks for the moving.
Most of the problems were related to the masks which people had not used that much before. The importance of using that disposable mask only once and taking care not to contaminate both sides was difficult. It is important to cover also your nose.
In the tables, drinking and eating were ok without a mask. For leaving your table, there was a bag of new disposable masks to be used.
- Instruct the use of the mask in a detailed manner
- Instruct also the restaurant personnel
- Have enough masks
- And keep the discipline also after the event
And the most important: With this kind of countermeasures, it is possible to have events safely, but everything must be planned and instructed carefully in detail.