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If you’re working back in the office again post-pandemic, here are 7 business etiquette rules to use in the office again.

Several of my clients shared with me that they aren’t sure what’s okay when it comes to business etiquette in the office again. Have the boundaries changed? Do the rules need to be rewritten?

Here are seven business etiquette rules to use in the office again. I hope you find my tips helpful as you navigate all those return-to-the workplace scenarios.

  1. Handshaking – Yes, it’s okay to offer your hand for a business handshake again. And for both men and women, that means two firm pumps with good eye contact. But, if you encounter someone who still prefers elbow bumps or fist bumps, be respectful and do the same. (And hopefully they didn’t just sneeze into their elbow!)
  2. Offering a beverage – If you have an office guest, offer bottled water (preferably with your company logo on the bottle!) instead of water in a glass. And if you’re trying to be “more green” you may direct your guest to a self-serve, touchless water dispenser.business etiquette rules to use in the office again post pandemic
  3. Conference room etiquette – Most of my clients seem comfortable around a conference table again. But, if possible, depending on your group size, try to leave a bit more space between the chairs around the table. Even remove every other chair if the group is small. Most professionals appreciate not being elbow to elbow around the table anyway.
  4. Cleanliness everywhere – Keep desktops neat and regularly sanitize desktops and doorknobs. Office professionals and guests to the office still appreciate finding a bottle of hand sanitizer on the conference table or in the waiting area or check-in desk. And, clients tell me they’ve noticed coworkers continue to focus on more frequent hand washing.
  5. Business lunches – They’re back, and business dinners, too, such as those non-profit fundraiser dinners and galas. It’s acceptable to greet other guests with a handshake (but see #1 above). Plated lunches and dinners are the norm versus self-serve buffet-style dining. And, if you can plan for extra space between diners, that’s a courtesy that everyone appreciates.
  6. Business card exchanges. This professional gesture is still appropriate after you’ve had a few moments of conversation with a new person. The protocol is that the person with the higher precedence (rank or status) initiates the exchange. Extend with the print facing the recipient. When you receive someone’s card, it’s respectful to take a moment to look at it before stashing it in your coat pocket or handbag.
  7. Elevator etiquette spacing. It seems most people are still reluctant to step onto a crowded elevator. Yes, it takes extra time to wait for a less-crowded car or one with no passengers. But, everyone I’ve encountered seems understanding and respectful of giving each other more space or saying, “I’m more comfortable waiting for a less crowded car.” And, no matter how you feel about face masks, the elevator is where you will likely find me wearing mine in a hotel or office elevator.

Business etiquette rules in the office may need to be reset again. Communicate the guidelines and etiquette rules at an office meeting. As a result, this enables everyone in your office to be in the loop and provides an opportunity to ask any questions for clarification.

You may also like to read 5 Ways to Rock Your Dining Etiquette Post-pandemic.
Photo source: Unsplash
Rachel Wagner is a licensed business etiquette consultant, trainer, and speaker. She is the owner of the Oklahoma-based business etiquette firm Rachel Wagner Etiquette and Protocol. 
Rachel provides onsite and LIVE virtual training on business and dining etiquette topics. She has corporate clients from many industries around the country. As an etiquette expert, she is interviewed and quoted in a variety of local and national media outlets. These include The Washington Post, MONEY, Forbes, and many more. She is also credentialed as a Virtual Event Professional and Zoom Producer.