- Randolph F. Thomas
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What to Know For Your Return to the Office
Your return to the office could involve some pandemic-related culture shock. Interactions you once took for granted, like getting into an elevator with your colleagues or shaking your boss’ hand, may now seem painfully uncomfortable and confusing.
Your return to the office could involve some pandemic-related culture shock. Interactions you once took for granted, like getting into an elevator with your colleagues or shaking your boss’ hand, may now seem painfully uncomfortable and confusing. In her Wall Street Journal article, “Don’t Be That Awkward Colleague: A Guide to Office Etiquette,” reporter Rachel Feintzeig clarifies what you should do in some of the perplexing situations that could arise once you’re back to working in person.
For instance, should you still try to shake hands with your officemates? According to Feintzeig, you might want to reconsider initiating a handshake if you haven’t already asked your officemates whether they’re comfortable with this once-customary greeting. Some offices have even been using colored lanyards that announce your comfort or lack thereof with physical closeness – a practice adopted from conferences. Journalist Gloria Oladipo of The Guardian writes that the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce, located near Virginia’s capital, has been giving out red, yellow, and green stickers to attendees, where red means no physical contact wanted, “no exceptions.” Those wearing a yellow band are only “OK” with elbow contact, like an elbow bump. Green means that “hugs [are] welcome.”
Also, what should you say when a co-worker comes into your office without a mask on? Feintzeig advises, “Note that you’re being especially careful because a family member is immunocompromised, or whatever you’re personally concerned about,” and she suggests you can politely offer to hold a Zoom meeting with this co-worker from your separate offices instead of meeting face-to-face.
And what about asking someone whether they’re vaccinated or not? First, ask if they’re comfortable discussing their vaccination status, and if they are, then go ahead and ask.
As the pandemic continues to reshape how we share space, the way we interact at work is changing. Knowing how to contribute to a safe and convivial workplace can give you and your colleagues greater peace of mind during this challenging time.