Many businesses are re-entering the workplace after a pandemic shutdown. Now it is clear that there are new rules. These rules can be loosely described as “Covid workplace etiquette.” This does not mean that you should just line up for the hand washing station. There is more to the line than politeness. We are dealing with matters that have an immediate impact on peoples’ health and well-being.
Even if you’ve been in the same office for years it can be difficult to adjust to the new norm. You may find yourself in need of some tips on Covid office etiquette to ensure a smooth and safe return.
1. When you are sick, ask to work at home or take a day off.
Not going to work sick is not a good idea. However, it is imperative that any person with symptoms remains home. You won’t be able to tell if your sore throat might be Covid without having it tested.
If you have symptoms and feel well enough to go to work, you should ask your manager if they can allow you to work remotely. Do not feel guilty about taking a day off if you are ill. You should also reevaluate your routine and give yourself some rest. Be sure to let your employer know if you have any symptoms linked with Covid. Covid can spread even from people without symptoms. This is why your employer may recommend that people close to you undergo a rapid antigen test, such as the Abbott BexNOW(tm), Covid test. Either through a PCR testing in a doctor’s office, or with one the many fast Covid test kit.
2. Make office lunches safer.
Lunches at work are important for building camaraderie. However, many people aren’t comfortable in crowding into small break rooms or restaurant booths. Eat outside because the virus spreads far less quickly outside. Also, a lunch al fresco is a great option to get some fresh oxygen to help you revive your workday. Don’t be afraid to eat outside. Find a large, open space to eat that’s not cramped. Tapas or other arrangements that demand people to eat together, such as sharing meals with one another, might be worth reconsidering. An indoor lunch is fine if all your coworkers have been immunized and your risk of being exposed to it is low.
3. Avoid close physical contact with someone unless you are sure that they are OK with it.
Consider avoiding handshakes, hugging and other forms intimate contact unless the person you are interacting with has explicitly stated they will not mind. Some people may still prefer physical separation, which is totally acceptable. It is worth checking if your company has a default policy on Physical Distancing, as some still require it. Additionally, it’s not a bad idea, but it’s an option to reduce physical contact. Everybody can breathe easier if you replace high fives (or even elbow bumps) with a more relaxed posture. Digital tools can be used too. For example, a Slack message may replace dropping by a person’s desk.
4. Follow the company’s policies regarding masks and don’t forget to wear one when you are in close contact.
You should always cover up in your workplace. It may seem silly to you but it will be a lifesaver for someone who has an autoimmune disorder. In some cases, it might be a good idea to put on a mask if you are not in need. Play around with different types of masks to find one you like and can wear for long periods. You can always find a mask that is comfortable for you and use it when needed. Many companies provide branded masks for their employees to encourage solidarity and unity.
5. Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizers.
Hand washing is a key step in preventing the spread of Covid and other viruses according to the CDC. It has been a part of good office protocol since it stops all types of germs spreading. It is now even more essential as workers return to work. It’s important to wash your hands every 20 seconds using soap and water. This is especially important after going to the bathroom or after you eat. In case of emergency, you should always have a bottle hand sanitizer in your bag. Use at least 60% alcohol in your hand sanitizer.