KILL THE HANDSHAKE: POST-COVID GREETINGS TO TRY
Finding out which greeting will work for your team can be a fun back-to-work exercise that may just bond you closer to your colleagues and make up for lost time apart. From simple hand waves to the shaka sign, here are some greetings we’re exploring at Vari in the post-COVID workplace.
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As businesses slowly reopen across the globe, employees will enter dramatically changed workplaces. Social distancing and new levels of cleanliness have become prioritized in the workplace and revamped office layouts will prioritize personal space—whether that involves desk barriers or pedestrian lanes keeping office traffic flowing. Along with other health and safety precautions, your team will naturally try alternative types of greetings for their co-workers and their clients beyond the usual handshake or friendly hug. Finding out which greeting will work for your team can be a fun back-to-work exercise that may just bond you closer to your colleagues and make up for lost time apart. From simple hand waves to the shaka sign, here are some greetings we’re exploring at Vari in the post-COVID workplace.
It’s time to wave goodbye to the standard handshake and start waving hello to your colleagues. Though COVID-19 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, the problem with handshakes is that if an infected person coughs or sneezes on their hands and then touches your hand, you can be exposed to the virus. Your best bet is to forego contact altogether, and a simple wave may be something you’re already accustomed to doing in casual settings. When you pair your wave with a smile, friendly “hello,” or even an explanation as to why you’re not offering a handshake, your connection becomes even more meaningful because you’re showing your colleague that you care about their health, too.
At a news conference in Connecticut, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams displayed the elbow bump to reporters, remarking, “We should probably rethink the handshake for a while.” He wasn’t the only one either. World Health Organization Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward was also photographed offering an elbow to a reporter who extended his hand for a handshake. While this gesture is ideal for those who want to hold on to physical contact in their greeting style, keep in mind an elbow bump may be disconcerting for those who still want to keep six feet of distance from each other.
You may have seen the Añjali Mudrā if you’ve ever traveled to parts of Asia that either practice Hinduism or have taken on the greeting as a cultural norm. The Añjali Mudrā involves clasping one's hands together in prayer position while uttering, “Namaste,” which translates to, “The Divine within me bows to the same Divine within you" in Sanskrit. Or, if you prefer, you can incorporate this only as a gesture, without saying “Namaste”. Whatever you choose, it may just result in a blissed-out workday for you and your colleagues.
If the shaka, or “hang loose” sign, is forever associated with surfers in your mind, think again. According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the casual greeting originated with a Hawaiian man named Hamana Kalili, who lost his three middle fingers in an accident at an Oahu sugar mill. The greeting quickly became a symbol he used to communicate with his co-workers and took off as a sign of gratitude and friendship on the islands ever since. Whether you surf or not, a shaka sign is a perfectly safe greeting to give your co-workers during these difficult times.
Hand Over heart
Popularized in predominantly Muslim nations, putting your hand over your heart is a sincere greeting that shows respect for one another and has been around “since the time of prophet Muhammad in the 7th century,” says Craig M. Considine, a lecturer at Rice University. Even more, the greeting was recommended by World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. If it helps, you may even think of the hand over heart greeting as making a pledge, whether that’s a pledge to keep your relationships strong with your co-workers or a pledge to eradicate this virus in whatever small way you can.
While it may feel like COVID-19 is putting company culture to the test, innovation is the ultimate strategy for adapting successfully to our new world. By finding new ways to connect with co-workers and clients, employees will thrive in even the most unfamiliar surroundings. Learn more about the relationship between workspace layout and culture at Vari.com.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.