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Post-COVID Workplace Manners: Two Dilemmas

by Mary Isner / August 18, 2022

It has now been over two full years since COVID first came along, and many business are implementing "return to the workplace" programs and policies. Transitioning back to the workplace can be difficult. Not only can it be a challenge to keep the work-life balance going, but the old office dilemmas may become a source of frustration again. Whether you interact with coworkers in person, from the comfort of your home office, or both, these friendly pointers from Miss Office Manners may be helpful to you. In this installment, I offer solutions to two common challenges. Happy reading!


Too Casual for Business Casual?

 Dear Miss Office Manners: I have an office wardrobe question. My office environment is fairly business casual and even more so since returning to the office after COVID. I have a pair of joggers that I want to wear to the office. They aren't shiny and they do not have “Adidas” written on them, so they’re good, right?

 -- Business Casual Clueless

 Dear Clueless:

 I am sorry to say, but if you have to ask, you probably shouldn't wear them. If your office environment is business casual, it is my firm belief that you should not wear pants to work that have a drawstring! I know that times are different now, particularly after COVID, but I think joggers or any pants that can be construed as athletic or athleisure (think yoga pants and cargo pants as well) are not acceptable for a business casual work environment - no matter what material they are made of. Save them for your telework days or the weekends. Good luck to you!


 The Office Gum Snapper

 Dear Miss Office Manners: I work in a somewhat small office. I have a coworker who chews gum throughout the day. She snaps and pops and pops and snaps ALL day long. It drives me crazy, but I don’t actually want to LOOK crazy by telling her that something so minor is bugging the heck out of me. Is there another way around this?

 -- Suffering in Silence    

 Dear Suffering:

 You are reaching out to the right person as this is my #1 pet peeve…by a long shot! I don’t think you would look crazy at all if you said something. While it seems minor, chewing gum audibly is just plain bad manners and I know we are not the only two people who are bothered by this. Can you try to approach her in a friendly manner and just say something like, “I don't mean to be rude, but when you chew your gum it's a bit loud and kind of distracts me from my work”? As long as you approach her with a little tact, she may get the message and keep her snapping and popping to a minimum. Better yet, maybe she’ll leave the gum at home. I think it is better to be direct than to wait until you are completely fed up and then you just explode (and really look crazy). If she disregards your polite request, is there a supervisor you can discuss this with? Sometimes we all need a little backup!

 I hope you have found this week’s tips both helpful and enjoyable. Here’s wishing everyone a productive and healthy work environment, wherever that may be! Be safe and well, everyone!

Tags: Office Manners

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Mary Isner

Mary Isner

Mary has a master’s degree in public administration and has worked as a facility planning analyst for Fentress since 2003. In her free time, she enjoys baking, decorating, and spending time with her family.