Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, working in an office will never be the same. Businesses are quickly changing the layout of their workspaces—distancing furniture, adding hand sanitizer stations, increasing flexibility, and even installing plexiglass dividers between desks.
But none of those measures will be enough if workers don’t practice proper social distancing while in the office. We’ve reached a new level of respecting others’ personal space, and now it’s a matter of public health. But maintaining a safe distance is not as easy as it might seem. Let’s explore a few ways to navigate this new normal.
Not everyone will approach personal space the same way. While maintaining six feet of distance between people is the rule, there’s still some gray area that could create issues. For example, when do you wear a mask? How many people can be in a conference room? Can more than one person use the kitchen at once? It all becomes much easier if the employer establishes a clear set of guidelines, so everyone is on the same page. If your company hasn’t taken that step yet, don’t be afraid to make the suggestion.
Confer with Your Team
It’s a good idea to meet with your immediate team to discuss how to make everyone feel comfortable in the workplace beyond any official office policies. For example, how many in-person meetings (if any) will you have a week? How many people will participate? Where will the meetings take place? If you’re all on the same page about boundaries and safety, it will make for a much more harmonious (and safe) environment.
Do More Virtually
Instead of scheduling in-person meetings or constantly approaching coworkers’ desks, try asking yourself if your questions could be answered via instant message, email, or phone call. Collaboration is going to have to look different right now, and it will involve a lot fewer face-to-face conversations.
If your coworker doesn’t feel comfortable with anyone stepping into their office, even if they’re wearing a mask and staying six feet away, you need to respect their request—even if you don’t feel the same. Similarly, if you know someone is nervous sharing the kitchen with others, maybe come back in a few minutes to grab your coffee.
Likewise, if someone isn’t respecting your personal space, you should feel empowered to say something. There’s no such thing as being too careful with COVID-19, so if someone is talking too close or touching your desk, it’s important to put a stop to it.
Take It Outside
If your office building offers outdoor spaces, try to take advantage. If weather permits, you could hold meetings outside or even just sit out there and do your work.
You might not be able to give your colleague a friendly handshake for a long time, but you can show your respect by maintaining a safe distance. If everyone takes personal space seriously, we can all promote safety and help prevent the spread of the virus.
If your business is looking for a flexible workspace that allows for safe distancing and collaboration, contact District Offices to talk about why we’re a great fit for your business.