Office etiquette in the post-pandemic world

Office etiquette in the post-pandemic world

Excerpted from GOBankingRates Blog by Gabrielle Olya

We all know how you conduct yourself in an office should be different than when you’re at home or among friends and family, but the coronavirus pandemic has made things a bit more complicated. Gone are the days when chatting around the water cooler or high-fiving in the hallway was considered the norm — anyone working in an office now should be mindful of social distancing and limiting contact.

If you’ll be returning to the office soon and are not sure what behaviors are acceptable, keep these new COVID-safe rules in mind.

Avoid shaking hands
Rachel R. Wagner, a licensed corporate etiquette consultant, said that handshakes are now off-limits.

“In the interim, you can acknowledge the other person with a smile along with a slight up-and-down head nod and good eye contact,” she said. “If the handshake happens accidentally (and it will!), just keep hands away from the face until you can wash them.”

Wear a face mask
Wearing a face mask when you’ll be around other colleagues is one of the most courteous things you can do to protect yourself and others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing face coverings as a way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus via respiratory droplets.

Respect elevator guidelines
Even if you’re late to work, don’t squeeze yourself into an elevator if there are already a few people inside. You may make other riders uncomfortable if it gets too crowded to stay distanced.

Keep your distance in the breakroom
Be mindful of maintaining social distance when in office common areas.

“In the office breakroom, stay socially distanced from others when getting coffee or using the microwave,” Wagner said. “Use sanitizer wipes to disinfect controls on the coffee brewer, microwave, refrigerator and faucet handles after each use.”

Don’t sit across from others at lunch
“Employees will have to change their lunch break habits because eating requires taking masks off,” said Joe Wilson, senior career advisor at MintResume. “They can’t be at the table across from each other because it makes them more susceptible to catching the virus. It is of great importance to control the crowd in common areas, such as cafeterias.”

Bring your own dishes and mugs
Don’t rely on company-provided kitchen supplies when you return to the office.

“Companies will encourage employees to bring their own dishes and coffee mugs from home instead of using communal items to further ensure everyone stays healthy,” said Dana Case, director of operations at MyCorporation.com.

Don’t ‘Pop By’ a co-worker’s desk
Randomly stopping at a co-worker’s desk or office to chat used to be completely acceptable behavior, but now you should make an effort to limit face-to-face interactions.

Don’t ask to borrow a pen
Borrowing a co-worker’s pen, stapler or phone was previously no big deal, but now that kind of ask can potentially make your colleague uncomfortable — and potentially spread disease. According to the CDC, employees should “avoid using other employees’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible.”

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