COVID-19 Etiquette: Pro-tips to navigating the office post-COVID-19.
Since COVID-19 hit, we’ve been a lot less likely to shake hands when greeting people than we usually would be. Things are changing—not only with our social norms and customs—but also with the way we conduct ourselves in the workplace.
So, how do we adapt to the changing ways of interacting in a professional setting?
Here are some tips for workplace etiquette in the age of the pandemic.
Greetings in the workplace.
Handshakes are taking an intermission for the foreseeable future. In the meantime? United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams is recommending the elbow bump as a handshake alternative.
Another alternative is a fist bump. A 2014 study published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Infection Control found that almost twice as much bacteria was transferred with a handshake compared with a high-five and that transmission was even lower for fist bumps. Of course, it does depend on how long the high-five or fist bump lasts, and in the study, the prolonged contact was three seconds.
Whatever you decide to do—physical contact or no physical contact—be sure to make and maintain eye contact!
Know when to mask up.
In early April, the CDC said that everyone should wear a face covering when near others to prevent spreading the disease unknowingly.
Many workplaces require wearing a mask to comply with current hygiene standards, except when eating (for example, on a business lunch). Other workplaces suggest masks but don’t require them. Some people in your workplace may settle into their own confined space and take their masks off—it isn’t rude to keep yours on if that makes you feel more comfortable.
Respect and set boundaries.
We’re all adjusting to a new normal together—so there’s nothing wrong with asking what the other person is comfortable with. Doing so will ensure you respect their boundaries and create a more receptive environment.
Aiming to set your own boundaries? You can absolutely do so in a polite and respectful manner. Politely saying, “For both of our safety, I’m not going to shake your hand,” and transition right into an elbow bump, fist bump, or whichever gesture you’ve adopted to replace shaking hands.
Be prepared with work-from-home technology.
Not going into a physical workplace? As most organizations go remote, we’re spending a lot of our time on Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Meet, Skype, Zoom, etc. And virtual meetings come with their own set of quirks and challenges.
Along with COVID-19 Etiquette, we’ve also made a list of the do’s and dont’s of video call etiquette that you can check out here.