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10 Things You Can No Longer Do In The Office To Stay Safe After Lockdown

By Somdutta Mazumder

Updated - May 23, 2020 7 min read

As doubtful as we'd become about ever reaching this point, the nation-wide lockdown that started some 60 odd days back, is officially drawing closer to a conclusion. That isn't to say, that a few more days and we will snap back to the definition of normalcy we were accustomed to all our lives. The threat of the virus continues to loom, and the possibility of getting infected is as real as it was, if not more so, 2 months back. However, we have certainly reached a juncture, where the stoppage of all forms of economic activity, social interaction and physical mobility, is no longer a feasible strategy to deal with the pandemic. And salvaging the plummeting economy, is something we have to start thinking about, in parallel with saving lives. 


In other words, sooner rather than later, offices are going to re-open and working from home is going to cease being the perpetual state of affairs. Regardless of the strategies your organisation might have chosen to allow for a staggered return to work, it's safe to assume that at least a day or two in the week, will soon need to be spent in the office. And just like every single sphere of life, the rules we followed at work before a virus shook the world to its very core, no longer apply. 



When it comes to staying safe at work, there are a ton of already-circulating tips ranging from wearing a mask, to repeatedly sanitising your hands to social distancing at the workplace. But we know that humans are creatures of habit, and the tendency to revert to some of the things we did before the pandemic surfaced, is going to be at a peak when we get to go back to our offices, see our favourite co-workers again and re-visit our favourite Panwadi outside the office. So, to help you stay safe at work, while you encounter the urge to hug your work bestie, here's a list of 10 things you can no longer do in the office once it re-opens in a post-pandemic world. 


1. Share Food With Your Co-Workers 

No more "here, try these fries!" Although there's no substantial scientific evidence suggesting that the virus can be transmitted through food, let me paint you a picture. You take a few bites of your food with the same cutlery, or worse yet, your fingers, which means some fraction of your saliva and mouth germs are likely to be transferred to the food item you're eating. So, you can imagine why it's not a good idea to offer some of this item to your co-worker, who will now be exposed to whatever you mouth may have transmitted to the meal, and vice versa. Same applies for anything you put in your mouth, including smokes. 


Image Courtesy - Forbes


2. Use The Lift To Go One Floor Up 

Okay, even coronavirus aside, using the elevator to go one or two floors up is not the best practice, from a sedentary life point of view. And now bringing coronavirus back into the equation, a lift is a super enclosed space, with surfaces like buttons that are likely to be touched by several people. Yes, you can do so if you really need to use the elevator, and immediately rush to either wash your hands, or sanitise them. But wisdom would prescribe avoiding the lift to the maximum possible extent.


Image Courtesy - Very Well Mind


3. Rub Your Tired Eyes Without Sanitising Your Hands

Long hours of screen time can get your eyes tired, but you no longer have the freedom to thoughtlessly rub your eyes to dispense the exhaustion. This act is so basic, that before coronavirus it didn't even warrant conscious thought, you would just do it on auto-pilot. But now with a literal pandemic in the air, a simple act of touching your face with unsanitised hands can pave the way for virus transmission and infection. Post a reminder on your desk if you need to, but avoid rubbing your eyes no matter how tired you feel. 


Image Courtesy - Wexner Medical Centre


4. Head To The Canteen During Lunch 

Out of all the places in your workplace, the office canteen is perhaps one of the most public spots, one that frequently accommodates considerably big groups. Although this might no longer happen in a world ruled by a mandate to practice social distancing, the safest thing to do would be to avoid the canteen altogether. Ideally, you should get your own lunch, wash up before you start eating, enjoy your meal at your desk by yourself, and discard the trash carefully. And needless to say, wash up again. 


Image Courtesy - Glassdoor 


5. Lend Your Headphones To Your Co-Worker 

Or for that matter, anything that you need to touch in order to lend. This includes common items like headphones, stationery, extra cutlery etc, along with personal items such as your bottle of hand sanitiser, your lipstick and your water bottle. Wisdom, on the other hand, doesn't involve touching so feel free to lend some! 


Image Courtesy - Peninsula 



6. Pay Cash To The Cigarette Seller And Take Your Change Back 

You see why this is a bad idea, right? I can't think of any way to hand over cash, or collect change from someone without both the parties touching it. Besides, the shop owner is not the only person to have touched that currency, so really, going digital with your payments right now is the safest way to do any transaction, even if it Rs 15. 


Image Courtesy - Money Control 


7. Shake Hands With A Client 

This one is pretty obvious, but we are still getting accustomed to the gestures we once considered courteous, no longer being do-able. Especially when you're meeting with an important client, reaching out for a firm handshake is a natural urge to leave a good impression. But given the current context, it will have the exact opposite effect. So practice your smiles, and polite nods because you can no longer greet anybody with any form of physical touch. 


Image Courtesy - Pexels


8. Carry As Many Bags As You Want 

I've been guilty of this behaviour. Earlier, if we arrived at the office right after a sleepover, or even had to head somewhere after work, carrying a few extra bags was not a matter of debate, or even serious thought. But now that a highly-transmittable virus is a part of our immediate reality, and every surface that's been touched by someone can potentially lead to infection if touched by you, reducing the number of surfaces in the first place, is an effective precautionary step. 


Image Courtesy - Fast Company 


9. Ask Your Co-Worker To Pass The Laptop Charger 

No passing of any kind, period. Surface, touch, pass, touch. You have now touched that person indirectly, and amped up your risk of infection. Think of it as middle school. Get your own stuff, touch your own stuff, pick your own stuff. And avoid doing anything with anybody else's stuff. 


Image Courtesy - Tech Radar


10. Socialise At The Coffee Machine 

If you can do it from at least 6 feet away, great! Noone's stopping you from socialising. It's the physical distance in a ordinarily small pantry that makes for a worrisome factor. Also, an office coffee machine is yet another surface that is touched by several people, usually when they're at their most tired and least calculating self. Once you get that cappuccino, sanitise your hands. And carry your own mug to avoid transmission. 


Image Courtesy - Pinterest 

It's going to take a bit of getting used to, but staying safe and keeping others safe while working from the office, is something we mandatorily have to excel at. It's what the world needs, as do you and those you go back home after work to. 

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