how to greet colleagues after COVID-19.

When governments announce that we can safely return to work,  minimizing  the spread of COVID-19 should remain a top priority for all Canadians. The crisis may be subsiding, but it’s a long way from being over.  

Carefully planning to return to work will be a long process that requires adopting new health and safety measures to protect employees and customers. If you're operating a small or medium-sized business, you may not have the tools or expertise to navigate the challenges of reopening on your own. Many of the tools and resources that are available from governments are overwhelming and confusing. Our end-to-end guides break down the reopening process into straight-forward steps and walk you through considerations to develop a solid return to work plan that puts health and safety first. Select the best guide to walk you through your reopening process.

When you finally are able to return to work and see your colleagues again after weeks of working remotely (or not at all) shaking hands and kissing cheeks might feel like second nature. After all, the centuries-old practice of shaking hands is a standard greeting in the business world.

Considering how quickly the virus is spreading, workers need to continue to take extra precautions and cut back on social contact . That includes handshaking. Here are a few things you can do to make it a little less awkward to break with convention and adopt some new safer habits as we recover from the pandemic.

how to greet colleagues after COVID-19

use positive body language

There are more ways than shaking hands to make a good impression. Body language is one of them. People who smile often are liked more by their colleagues. Having an open and welcoming smile, and friendly body language makes you more approachable.

convey warmth in your tone

Your tone of voice says a lot, especially if you are meeting someone after a long time.  Be sincere and warm. Genuinely express happiness at meeting/seeing someone, even if you’re foregoing typical social etiquette.

wave or head nod

If you really want to make an impression, you could resort to other types of greetings. You could give a wave, nod your head, give a thumbs up, offer up an air high five or even an elbow tap. Obviously, how you greet someone will depend on who it is. Have fun with it and make the best of the situation.

don’t ignore it

Be upfront about the fact you’re not shaking hands. Don’t ignore an outstretched hand and pretend the situation doesn’t exist – that’ll just make it even more awkward if the other person doesn’t understand what’s happening. Express that you don’t want to shake hands at this time because of the coronavirus outbreak. People will understand. In fact, many people will likely also be refraining from shaking hands and be relieved.

carry sanitizer

People slip up all the time. Just in case you do shake someone’s hand out of habit, make sure you carry sanitizer with you. That is, if you can find some. If you don’t have any, wash your hands as soon as you can. If you have extra to spare, offer to share some.

wash your hands anyway

Even if you’re not shaking hands, it’s still a healthy practice to wash your hands frequently. There are many other surfaces that could also transfer the spread of coronavirus and even the common cold. Washing your hands is the best thing you can do to prevent getting sick during cold and flu season.


COVID-19 has many people on edge, and physical distancing has become the norm. So it’s understandable that we’re excited to connect with our colleagues and friends. (We sure are!) But in order to continue the fight against COVID-19, we need to maintain proper hygiene guidelines. It’s the responsible thing to do at this time, and most people you interact with will not take it personally considering the severity of the situation. Don’t worry. We’ll hug when the pandemic passes! 

If you're starting to build your business recovery plan, we have lots of resources to support you. Visit our business recovery website for tools and guidance.

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