By Katriina Tahka ,CEO – A-HA – A Human Agency
Business etiquette is imperative for creating a positive impression on those around us, securing our brand a good reputation and keeping the business popular. In a post-COVID world, the rules that the business world has always understood are somewhat topsy-turvy. While some experience very real anxieties about their health and others choose to continue with business as usual, finding a meeting point that respects both parties can be tricky. These 5 major changes can help anyone in business to navigate the changing business etiquette protocols correctly in a post-COVID world.
Handshakes are out. Face masks are in
Meeting clients for a strategy session? Discussing facts and figures with your accountant? Negotiating a proposal with a possible client? Handshakes are traditional as part of a formal greeting between two parties but they’re no longer considered part of good business etiquette following COVID. However, they have become so entrenched in our habits, an accidental handshake is bound to occur. Instead, a subtle bow of the head, eye contact, and a warm smile are now considered socially-distant and acceptable replacements for the previously-loved handshake.
Bring-Your-Own becomes an acceptable standard
In the past, coffee and simple snacks formed part of most traditional meeting rooms, punctuating the hard work with refreshments made many meetings bearable. Now, the risk of spreading illness has interrupted this practice. While individually wrapped muffins and eat alongside machine-dispensed coffee might be safe, it is also now acceptable for participants to bring their own mugs, snacks and beverages if they feel safer to do this.
Provide clients and suppliers with a choice of meeting options
Since different people have varying feelings about how they want to conduct business in a post-COVID world, it is imperative to meet your clients and suppliers where they are comfortable. For some, that means virtual meetings only. Others prefer face-to-face meetings. If you have hygiene protocols in place and you are comfortable with face-to-face meetings, be sure to offer your clients a range of meeting options regardless of how safe you believe our own premises to be. If you want to close deals and maintain good business etiquette, give your participants the power to choose what they prefer.
Respect personal space
It might be time to get a hearing aid. If you find yourself needing to stand closer to workers or suppliers in order to hear clearly, work on your hearing so that you can keep your distance. Now more than ever it is considered poor manners to stand close to others. Place your elbow against your side and extend your hand to create a 90-degree angle with your arm. Your fingertips should never touch the person nearest to you. This is a quick way to measure and ensure you are adhering to personal space guidelines, regardless of how you, in your personal capacity, feel about social distancing.
No sniffle is insignificant, employers need to adjust sick-leave policies
The first sign of a blocked nose, fever, or sore throat needs to be heeded. Employees that begin to feel the early signs of illness must stay home and away from shared workspaces. Regardless of whether the individual has COVID or not, catching a common cold weakens the immune system. Since many of our loved ones already have compromised immune systems a simple cold can make them more vulnerable to serious viruses and bacteria, like COVID. CEOs and management must amend their sick-leave policies to enable employees to work from home if they are well enough to work but still show symptoms of an illness. His is imperative for the greater good of our society. Asking workers to come to work due to limited sick leave places them in a situation where they are not observing good business etiquette and it iwill reflect poorly on your brand and your business reputation.
About the author:
Katriina Tahka (CEO at A Human Agency – AHA: www.a-ha.com.au)
Katrina is an HR guru with a special interest in business’ success through empowering teams. CEO + Founder of A-HA, Katriina is passionate about building inclusive workplaces where all people thrive and realise their full potential. Healthy teams with engaged people deliver both business and community success.