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We’re going back to the office in the New Year, but I don’t know how to act toward my colleagues. Do we cram into the same elevator? Do we shake hands, fist-bump, knock elbows? What’s the protocol in these COVID-19 times?
Well, if you ask a certain former governor, hugs would appear to be the appropriate form of office greeting. For the rest of us, they are reserved for people who we have a very close relationship with, and for whom any other form of greeting would seem weird. That means, at any time, for 99 percent of workplace interactions, touching beyond a handshake or fist bump is inappropriate. Your office should establish exact workplace etiquette. The only thing you don’t want to do is make an assumption about what is comfortable with the other party. So, there may be the awkward first time (“What are we doing, are we shaking hands or what?”). But eventually, colleagues will self regulate and we’ll all settle in.
You recently answered a question about an employee who complained about a colleague who smelled. In my culture, hygiene is handled differently than it is here. Plus, bathing daily is a waste of water. But, my boss has said that if I don’t change my hygiene and eliminate my body odor he will fire me. Can he do that?
Few workplace situations are more awkward than personal hygiene. Since you don’t appear to have a medical condition that’s causing the offense, and unless your religion or culture expressly prohibits you from bathing on a frequent basis, it’s your personal choice to save the water. Therefore, if this choice not to bathe is causing problems at work, your employer is likely on safe ground to terminate your employment. There are lots of ways to help the environment without risking your job. It’s not like every time you take a shower, someone somewhere in the world can’t get water.
Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive. Hear Greg Weds. at 9:35 a.m. on iHeartRadio 710 WOR with Len Berman and Michael Riedel. E-mail: [email protected] Follow: GoToGreg.com and on Twitter: @greggiangrande