We’ve been living in a pandemic environment for a while now. While I know that many of us joke around about how casual our work attire has become, there’s been another aspect of our pandemic existence that’s been a little casual, too: our workplace etiquette.
I was talking with a client last week, an HR leader at a large oil and gas company. She mentioned that as more and more people collide in the workplace, there’ve been increasingly more HR issues connected to inappropriate behavior.
I think this is a call for us all to “class it up.”*
Meaning, take some time to think about how we’ve changed and what needs to be adapted to bring an extra level of professionalism to the workplace. As a few examples:
- For some of us, our language has deteriorated. There’ve been reports that we – as a society – are swearing more than ever before. If this is you, pay attention to your expressions. You might be offending someone unintentionally.
- We’re also running later for in-person meetings. This is often because we’re still figuring out our commuting routines. We’re not planning and preparing for friction; yet, friction inevitably happens when we’re rebuilding new routes and habits.
- For many of us, small talk has become painful and awkward. We’re going to have to practice this skill so we can talk a little more casually and freely. Don’t avoid your colleagues … acknowledge where you are and explore what you can do to engage with a little more ease so you don’t come off as standoffish or closed for conversation.
- Finally, being in the workplace isn’t the same as being on Zoom. Yes, bring your whole self to work … and also consider what your whole self should wear that day. I’m all for messy buns and yoga pants, but there’s a time and a place.
Here’s to a new, new normal … one where we’re rebuilding skills that we haven’t quite lost, but don’t seem to come as easily as they did before.
*I’m borrowing that phrase from my sister. Whenever we go somewhere fancy, she reminds me to class it up. I used to think she meant that I shouldn’t wear jeans. Now, I’m beginning to wonder.