… is as easily said as it is done, if you take the right elements into consideration and work with the right partners. We regularly get requests to organise an EWC meeting for our customers at their premises. However, companies sometimes forget that EWC meetings have very specific requirements and can’t be organised just any way anywhere.
And yet, there are clear advantages to organising a meeting in-house: the company has the opportunity to showcase one of their local operations, and employee representatives have an opportunity to learn from what business-as-usual looks like in an environment that differs from their own. Moreover, if the meeting is held at the company’s European headquarters, management probably does not have to be flown in especially for the meeting, which means that they are less likely to have to dash to catch a flight and will be more relaxed to engage in the exchanges with their employees’ representatives.
So how can you find out whether your location is suited and whether it makes sense to host the next EWC meeting at your site? If you take the following 5 elements into consideration, you’ll be sure to make the right call.
Meeting room surface
Most EWC meetings use the traditional U-shape set-up, which in itself requires more space than other formats like classroom or fishbone. Moreover, in most EWCs, participants require interpretation and booths have to be installed in the meeting room. All in all this means that -depending on the number of participants, the set-up and the number of interpreting booths- you may need a meeting room that at a first glance seems far to big for the number of participants. If you want to be sure whether everything will fit, seek the advice of your interpreting or technical agency. Send them a floor plan with all the measurements and draw the approximate size of the U-shape (or whatever set-up you opt for), so that they can do the math for you and let you know what can be done, and what the pros and cons are of every configuration.
Nowadays, many venues have some sort of teleconferencing system, ranging from a spider phone to a full-fledged WebEx platform. However, most of these systems are not suited if you are working with interpretation. Talk through the plan you have for your meeting with your Language Service Provider. If you are planning on having WebEx calls, it is very important that the sound can be linked to the audio system in the meeting room and the interpreting equipment. There are also multilingual webinar platforms available that can help you manage this. More or less anything can be done nowadays, it is just a matter of organising a proper exchange beforehand.
Representatives usually fly in from all over Europe so it is always best to hold the meeting in a location that is easy to reach. If your site is located very remotely, one hour or more from the nearest airport, it will be very difficult and tiring for participants to make it in and out of the venue. Traffic jams, delayed flights, cancelled trains will immediately wreak havoc on travel itineraries that involve various transfers. Moreover, transport costs will rocket for remote locations, not just because of the distance, but also because you’ll have fewer transport suppliers to choose from and prices will probably be higher. In very remote locations, it may also be harder to find local interpreters, take this into account when you are comparing possible venues.
Is there appropriate accommodation for the group near the venue? Here again, the shorter the distance between the hotel and the venue, the less likely it is that you’ll have delays or timing issues due to participants being held up somewhere. A hotel at walking distance is the ideal option provided that the route between the venue and the hotel is safe.
Even if the formal meeting is important, the time spent together at breaks and dinner is at least as important. If you are having your meeting at a manufacturing site or in an industrial area, chances are that it is hard to find something entertaining for the group to do in the evening. This should not stop you from having your meeting at your site, as there are probably team building activities or city tours that you can book in the nearest city. Make sure that you provide some entertainment and opportunities for participants to talk informally, both between employee representatives and amongst managers and reps, this will bring people together and make working together a lot easier.
Holding an EWC meeting at your site will not always be possible. Most company buildings or manufacturing sites are not designed to accommodate meetings of this type. If your meeting room is large enough, though, you’ve got the most important item covered. All the other elements can be arranged by either yourself, an LSP or an event professional. We’ve been organising on and off site EWC meetings for our clients for the last 20 years so if you need some further guidance on whether and how to organise your meeting at your premises, contact us and we’ll be glad to look into your specific requirements.