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COVID-19 Office Etiquette


As if office etiquette wasn’t tricky enough, enter Coronavirus. COVID-19 Office Etiquette means new concerns, new rules, and new ways to potentially annoy your colleagues. Here are some practices to follow at the workplace. 

COVID-19 office etiquette

Lysol Offender

Don’t spray Lysol in close quarters or in excess. If you want to wipe away the potential germs and viruses, consider using a disinfecting wipe or a cotton ball with alcohol on it. If you really want to use Lysol, do it during downtime when others aren’t at their desks (early morning, late at night, etc.).


Keep Your Distance

Avoid entering people’s personal space. A person’s “bubble” used to be 1-2 feet, but with COVID-19, that’s expanded to 6 feet or more. When you walk up to discuss something with a coworker, keep your distance. You might even phone them first and ask if they want to step outside and take in a breath of fresh air while you have your conversation. 

two people 6 feet apart

No More Handshakes

Due to the potential to spread COVID-19 through touch, handshakes are not advised. Creative alternatives are being developed everywhere as organizations navigate COVID-19 office etiquette.

Covid-19 Office Etiquette -handshake alternative

Space Out

In meetings, leave space between you and other people if the opportunity exists. 

modular conference table

Hands Off

Touch as few things as possible – especially items on the desks of others or items that others use. Elevator buttons, door handles and buttons on machines can be operated with a tissue covered hand or a no-touch-tool. 

using a tissue to open doors during covid-19

Speak Up

Listen and speak up. If you have safety concerns, tell your colleagues or HR — politely and with clarity. If others have concerns, hear them out and respect their wishes or give the leadership at your company the opportunity to remedy the situation. Do you have ideas that may assist in reducing the potential for spreading germs? It’s perfectly appropriate to share these with your supervisor or the human relations department. 


Moratorium on Borrowing

Avoid borrowing items from others. While it used to be commonplace to ask to use someone’s stapler, tape dispenser, or phone – the new normal is to touch only your own supplies. 


Wear Your Mask Correctly

If the company policy states that masks are to be worn in the workplace, be certain to wear yours correctly. The mask should cover both your nose and mouth. A mask worn under the nose doesn’t block droplets inhaled or exhaled through the nose. A mask down around the neck is ineffective at blocking any droplets. 

wearing a mask for COVID-19

No Joke

Jokes and pranks about COVID-19 are inappropriate during a pandemic. Pretending to cough or sneeze on others, stating that someone has the virus when they don’t or making comments about the legitimacy of the virus should be avoided. While there is a lot of information yet to be learned about the Coronavirus, people are concerned with what we do know and what possibilities exist. Even more importantly, your colleagues may have health conditions or loved ones with concerns that make the pandemic particularly worrisome to them. It’s never OK to cause undue stress to a coworker. 

COVID-19 Office Etiquette joke mug

Common sense and conscientiousness useful and appreciated during any difficult time – and the pandemic is no different. Overall, be mindful to keep yourself safe while showing courtesy and understanding to others — all while following company policy. 

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