Less than 3 months ago companies, including ours, had to swiftly change the way they operated. We turned our manufacturing skills to making scrubs and masks and our office teams works on a rotational basis in the office and others from home.
We figured this may last a month or so, and now, almost three months in, we are preparing to come back to work. The desks have been spread out, chairs in the meeting rooms removed to reduce the maximum number of participants at a time, our reliance on Microsoft Teams has increased and we’ve had to be very creative with our product shots, influencer tribe and other channels to reach our customers.
Being in the fashion business, we have stock ready for the season that we have been in lockdown for a good part of; but we have a worldwide market and it’s always the right weather somewhere. A bit like wine o’clock. We’ve learned more about the demographic and economic factors affecting our customers and been surprised by the continued commitment to grooming and style they have shown.
There was a piece recently by a female journalist that said she’d been disappointed by her partner’s lack of grooming and general appearance during quarantine – she’d always looked forward to seeing him dress in the morning, it making her tingly at how good he looked. We like to think he isn’t a customer of ours.
Now, getting ready for work is something we have to get back used to; the commute for one taking more than a few seconds….. and the ironing.
But what feels better than fresh clothes against the skin? Adding some colour or a pattern in a shirt can also brighten yours and your co-workers moods. Try something new – they may just think you’ve had a good rest, but it could be the colour brightens your complexion. This season we’re sharing the colours of Malta, teal, gold, raspberry and orange. Linen for ‘work from home’ days and casual forays the walk in the park, the reunion with friends and family, and how about a non-iron shirt for the days you need to meet others on a professional level?
The hardest part though – which we realized immediately the restrictions started to lift – is restraining yourself from personal contact. It’s really hard to see a mate and not hug them, slap them on the back, fist bump or shake hands. But how do you handle this in the even more difficult scenarios which is work. You may be meeting people for the first time, new clients, new suppliers, new colleagues.
The elbow bump is not appropriate in a work setting. We didn’t need to seek help on that opinion, but what are the new rules for modern etiquette? Debretts suggest the following, and we tend to agree.
1.) Take your lead from the other person
If you are still comfortable shaking hands, wait to see what the other person does and follow suit. If he or she goes in for the shake, keep your grasp firm and confident as you would usually. If the other person seems reluctant to shake hands (or if you are), a smile, nod and friendly verbal greeting will usually be adequate substitutes.
2.) Address the issue head-on
Awkwardness can be assuaged by mentioning the current situation at the outset. Saying something like ‘Shall we adhere to best practice and avoid a handshake?’ will acknowledge the issue and smooth the interaction.
A smile will project a message of warmth and welcome, and helps to lessen any feeling of offence caused by a rejected physical greeting. That said, be wary of smiling too much in certain countries, including Russia and Ukraine, where it could undermine your authority.
To find out more about behavioral and etiquette advice, along with style guides and interesting facts, after stopping off here at Gagliardi.eu on a regular basis, you can look up their advice.