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Interacting with Your Colleagues in the Office During a Pandemic

With companies reopening offices to resume their operations; new protocols have been required to be put in place to ensure employees’ health and safety. These procedures aimed at allowing employees to return to the office post quarantine should have been well thought out and implemented by the management of the companies. Although set up by managements, it is the responsibility of all employees to ensure the enforcement of these protocols whilst working in the office. Nevertheless, interacting with your colleagues in the office during a pandemic is bound to happen. So, what are some alternatives to everyday interactions?

1. Hand Shaking

Coming back into the office means reuniting with your fellow colleagues. Under normal circumstances employees would be greeting each physically through handshakes and hugs. However, with social distancing being enforced for health and safety, people have started using unconventional alternatives that do not require any physical contact. From putting hands together and bowing to heart signs, to the more conventional waving. If you are determined to have actual physical contact with your colleague, limit it to the touching of elbows and or shoes. Although it is still advisable to avoid any unnecessary physical contact whenever possible.

2. Physical Documentation

Paperwork, bad for the environment and dreaded by employees. Since we are on the topic of avoiding physical contact to mitigate spread of infection if any; spread of infection through the exchange of physical objects are also a possibility. Colleagues should alternatively share documents electronically. It is quicker, environmentally friendly and saves you the trouble of dealing with a ton of paperwork. Similarly, sign offs and approvals can also now be done electronically through various software and if not a email ‘approved’ from the relevant parties should suffice for now.

3. Talking

There are multiple alternatives to this such as communicating online through emails, messaging software and of course sign language. These methods can be more tedious than speaking directly to your colleagues, especially if there are in the same office. However fortunately, interactions through conversations does not need to be stopped but instead should be done at a distance and or with a face mask on.

4. Sharing Food

This should be stopped altogether to reduce the risk of infection through the sharing of saliva. Employees need to make sure that they only share food that is packed individually and do not share from the same source. COVID-19 symptoms appear gradually and although some people might not show symptoms, they still could be carriers of the virus.

5. Meetings

Like documentation, meetings should be conducted virtually for the time being because isolating a group of people in an enclosed area increases the risk of infection. However, meetings conducted with limited participants with enough space to social distance can still be conducted but is not advisable because the same results can be achieved virtually.

 

Left wondering what can still be openly shared with colleagues? The simple answer, hand sanitizers. Remember that it is not enough to just social distance, but each employee needs also to be socially responsible for the health and safety of themselves and of those around them. Keep safe and interact responsibly and share these alternatives with your colleagues.

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