Before the global pandemic reached the United States in March 2020, a typical professional introduction would involve a handshake and not socially distant conversations. Now, while the light at the end of the tunnel seems closer, we still are going to have to adjust to the “new normal.”
So, what does this mean for the future of business social interactions? Of course, I’m not a mind reader or a medical professional when it comes to the future of the world and COVID-19. This topic is something I’ve been pondering a lot in recent months, and I hope some of you all can relate to it too.
Fist Bump? Elbow bump? Handshake?
I remember all the time walking the halls of public school and thinking someone wanted to do a handshake and they actually wanted to “dap” me up (this is kind of like a different handshake, except there are like 30 different variations of dapping someone up). Back then, I’d mess it up all the time. Luckily adulthood was much easier before COVID-19. Now? It’ll depend on many different things: first and foremost, we should be following CDC instructions. After that has been established, what’s next? Will the handshake make a return, or will the fist bump reign supreme? My guess is that eventually the handshake will return, but it will take a while. What I hope for is the professional world to embrace all three as acceptable forms on introduction, as weird as that might be in a post-COVID-19 world.
Before 2020, catered and crowded lunches in the conference room were typical (and sometimes expected). Now? Probably not, at least in the immediate future. So what will this look like for 2021? Potentially outdoor, socially-distant catered lunches are the future (perhaps a picnic?). Of course this isn’t the most preferred method, but at the moment it appears to be the safest. While the team bonding conference room lunches may be gone, organizations will still make the best of it!
Working from home wasn’t widely adopted until March 2020, and now it has been proven to be an effective way for companies to operate. This begs the question, are we going to be more effective through video calls than in the office? It could go either way, but it’s an interesting question that we’ll figure out the answer to soon. In my opinion, I think offering both to employees is the way to go. If these strange days have proven anything, it’s that a lot of workplaces are ready to offer both to employees who desire either.
The local restaurant is hosting a weekly happy hour down the street and all your coworkers go after work and talk about anything but work. Now? Some places are fully open while other areas are still fully closed, and ensuring you’re not breaking too many COVID protocols is also something to keep in mind. While this isn’t exactly in a professional setting, this is an extension of office life.
I know that this blog doesn’t deliver clear instructions on exactly how things should go in a post-COVID world. At the moment, we still don’t know a lot. While it’s great vaccines are more widely available now (I’ll be getting my second shot this Saturday!), there’s still a lot medical professionals are trying figure out about the phases ahead. What physical health and mental health concens we will need to address? What will “business as usual” look like? In the meantime, while we wait for more answers, you can read more about COVID guidelines for returning to work and information about the COVID vaccine.