The handshake is defined as a gripping and shaking of right hands by two individuals, as to symbolize greeting, congratulation, agreement, or farewell. While traditionally handshakes are widely used in a business setting, due to the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year and a half, this second-nature action, among other ways of expression, has been quickly abandoned due to the concern of spreading germs and a desire to be mindful of each individual’s comfort level when it comes to physical contact.
As more people get vaccinated and feel more comfortable venturing back out into familiar spaces, companies are beginning to reinstate in-office work, adopt hybrid work models, and/or allow business travel to resume. This means that we may want to take a look at how things have changed and how these once second-nature actions will be different moving forward.
The in-office new “normal.”
With handshakes and hugs likely at bay for a while, it’s time to figure out an alternative method of greeting. Whether it is an elbow bump or a wave from a distance, make sure you’re being respectful of others and their level of comfort. It also wouldn’t hurt to know where you land on the physical contact spectrum.
Beyond simple greetings, now we also must look at shared spaces a bit differently. Spaces like cubicles, meeting rooms, refrigerators and water coolers require a second thought before falling back into past behaviors. Many offices may limit shared spaces such as lunchrooms, provide dividers between cubicles and require masks at all times. This means planning ahead is required for even something as simple as bringing lunch and deciding where to eat it. Although being back in the office may feel like a normal activity, don’t forget what you’ve learned during the pandemic and keep your and others’ health and safety top of mind.