How COVID Has Changed Office Etiquette

office etiquette

More offices across America are opening again, which means that people are slowly starting to return to in-office work. If you haven’t been back to your office since the pandemic, there’s a good chance that things will be vastly different when you return. For organizations that have employees coming back in person, rather than working from home, worker safety and protection is critical. Here are some etiquette rules to keep in mind as the pandemic continues, and some tips and tricks on how to be a courteous co-worker. 

Familiarize Yourself with Your Company’s Expectations

With the pandemic still ongoing, many companies have put precautions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This can include everything from having a screening process in place to keeping a record of visitors to mandating the use of masks. Additionally, many companies are requiring that their employees get the vaccine. It is worthwhile to familiarize yourself with your company’s expectations and speak with a representative from human resources to learn your company’s specific policies.

Despite the company’s varying expectations, all workplaces are required to have a COVID-19 workplace safety plan. This plan helps identify areas where employees may be at risk of contracting the virus and outlines necessary steps to follow to prevent COVID-19 transmission. 

Pay Attention to Mask Mandates 

Even if your office isn’t requiring you to wear masks indoors, it’s still important to keep an eye on state mandates, as well as what the CDC is currently recommending. Currently, the CDC is still recommending the use of masks indoors if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission

It can be difficult to know which mask to get, especially if you are required to wear one in the office. After all, you want a mask that enables you to communicate effectively and doesn’t make breathing difficult. That’s why SmileMask is the best choice for you. SmileMask is a woman-owned company that was created during the pandemic to fulfill a need. It specializes in creating clear face masks that allow for easier and more effective communication — particularly for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. You can choose from the original cotton mask, a sport mask, or a single-use mask — all of which have a non-fogging, clear film. SmileMask’s high-quality mask will equip you to have improved communication with your colleagues. 

Maintain Your Safety 

If your job is asking you to return to the office, then there are some important steps you can follow to protect yourself. As noted above, following HR guidelines — whether that is keeping a distance of 6 feet from others or following a screening process — will keep you safe. All employees are responsible for using safe work practices, and it’s important to do what you can to stop the spread of the virus. Other ways to maintain your safety are continuing to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, monitoring your health daily, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

Be Courteous to Others — Stay Home If You’re Unwell

In addition to maintaining your safety, it’s also important to be courteous to others. This includes staying home if you’re feeling sick or under the weather. If you wake up feeling cold or flu symptoms, such as a fever or simply feeling fatigued, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution and stay home. Be sure to take the time to familiarize yourself with symptoms associated with COVID-19. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control provides an extensive list of symptoms that may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, a dry cough, chills, sore throat, and more. It can be hard to know whether you’re experiencing COVID or just the common cold, but it’s always a good idea to play it safe. After all, your decision to stay home if you’re feeling unwell can help protect all your co-workers. On the other hand, going into work with symptoms can result in your colleagues getting sick.

Anna Bell is a writer who lives in Los Angeles.


Department of Labor - COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan 

CDC - Prevent Getting Sick 

CDC - ​​Symptom Testing