As the country is opening up again, employers will increasingly be expecting their employees to return to the office. Many people have spent over a year either furloughed or working from home, and this once all-too familiar environment will now seem quite alien to them. Many will be understandably anxious about entering an environment they do not have full control over.
With this in mind, here are a few tips for maintain good office etiquette in the post-COVID world.
Look After Yourself, Look After Others
Perhaps the most important tip on this list is this; do not come in to work if you are feeling unwell. There are no employee of the month awards for spreading coronavirus to your colleagues. Take your temperature every morning, regardless of how you feel, before you leave for work. If you have time, try to take a lateral flow antigen test just after you wake up. The results will be ready in half an hour, meaning you can quickly and conveniently check to see if you are able to go to work.
If you wake up with any symptoms of coronavirus, such as a sore throat or a new cough, it is essential that you take a rapid Covid test. Your colleagues will thank you for staying at home if it turns out you are ill. They may not be so forgiving if you decide to come into work anyway.
Follow the Rules
Many workspaces will have new rules in place to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, such as wearing a face covering indoors, or by respecting a one-way system around the office. It is essential that you follow these rules; they are there for your safety and that of others.
Upon your return to the office, you may find that the layout of your workspace is unfamiliar, as desks may have been moved around to facilitate social distancing. You may also find that you can no longer do some of the things you used to do, such as chat with your friends by the coffee machine for 5 minutes or so. Remember, these regulations are in place to keep you safe. Your colleagues will appreciate your commitment to keeping them safe as well as yourself.
Keep your Workspace Clean
Although it is unlikely, it is still possible to contract coronavirus from surfaces within the office. It is important that you keep your workspace clean. You should carry some antiseptic wipes around with you at all times, and wipe down your desk and any equipment you may have been using at the end of the working day.
Make sure to regularly use hand sanitiser to minimise the spread of coronavirus droplets from outside of the office as well; if you are commuting into work on public transport, you may pick up something from there.
If you are sitting by a window, be sure to keep it open throughout the day. The ventilation will help to keep the air clean and prevent the spread of airborne coronavirus droplets.
Be Mindful of Others
There will be some people in the office that do not take to office life as quickly as you might. Be respectful of their feelings, and do not judge them for taking extra precautions that you perhaps do not consider necessary.
They may also not be too comfortable about socialising outside of the office yet either. Try to be understanding of what they are going through, as they may become more encouraged to partake in social activities such as going for a meal after a few weeks.
It’s unlikely that these tips will be needed forever, and hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later that we can truly get back to normal. In the meantime, however, make sure you follow the rules of the “new normal”.