Is it OK to ask a co-worker if they’re vaccinated? Do people shake hands these days? Check out our tips on post-pandemic office etiquette.

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has changed how we work, including the unwritten codes of behavior known as office etiquette. As we emerge from the pandemic, people are learning new ways to interact with each other to maintain an atmosphere of courtesy and mutual respect.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you navigate the post-pandemic workplace.

tread carefully when discussing vaccination status

Vaccination status isn’t quite the hot-button issue it was in 2021, when employer vaccine mandates were in the news. Still, some people have strong opinions on the subject, so it’s best to tread carefully when discussing it in the workplace. Other people regard it simply as a private health matter — if you don’t know someone well enough to ask about their cholesterol level, you probably shouldn’t ask about their vaccination status. If the subject comes up repeatedly and makes you or any coworkers feel uncomfortable, raise it with your manager.

adopt a no-mask-shaming policy

Like vaccination status, mask-wearing can be divisive if not handled with tact and sensitivity. While many people are now comfortable going to work without a mask, others may wear one for peace of mind or personal health reasons, such as an underlying medical issue. It’s poor etiquette to ask someone why they choose to wear a mask — or why they don’t. This should be considered a personal decision and treated as such.

stay home if you’re sick

This has always been a good rule, but employees who want to show their drive and commitment (not to mention conserve their paid time off) have often felt comfortable breaking it. However, if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s the importance of staying home when sick. It’s simply the most effective way to keep viruses like COVID-19 and influenza from spreading. Furthermore, the increased availability of remote work means you can isolate and stay productive if you feel up to it.

respect boundaries

Physical boundaries matter more than ever in the post-pandemic era. What used to be an acceptable distance for an office conversation might now be too close for comfort. If you sense that your proximity to a coworker is making them uncomfortable, take a step back. They’ll appreciate the thoughtfulness. Greeting conventions have also evolved. Some people have returned to hugs and handshakes, others have learned to love the fist bump, while others remain wary of physical contact. To avoid awkwardness, tell your colleagues what you’re comfortable with and respect their preferences in return.

keep co-workers in the loop

Clear communication in the workplace has always been important, but when you’re working remotely, it’s mission-critical. Let your team and manager know when you’ll be in the office and when you’ll be working from home, and be sure to respect other people’s downtime. One aspect of office etiquette that hasn’t changed is the need to respond to messages, emails and calls in a timely manner during business hours — whether you’re in your cubicle or the quiet corner of a local coffee shop.

Everyone can use a little advice on navigating office etiquette in the new normal. Learn more about how Randstad can help make your return to the office a little easier.