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How Did the Covid-19 Pandemic Change Business Etiquette?

The question companies asked themselves a lot in 2020 was "How do we survive and stay afloat during the pandemic?"  In 2021, however, companies are rather thinking how to work efficiently in the pandemic-stricken world. After mass vaccination started and most quarantine restrictions were lifted, offline meetings came back into our lives. However, it would be naïve to harbor any illusions about returning to pre-covid norms. For better or worse, an event of such magnitude as the COVID-19 pandemic could not but change some business etiquette rules.

So, what is the “new normal” like? What kind of principles apply to business events during a pandemic? In fact, are there any well-established rules at all yet? Accountor Ukraine has prepared answers to the most frequently asked questions on good manners in business meetings. Let us discuss modern sanitary norms, common practice and common sense.

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1. Greeting Each Other

Question. Before Covid-19, handshake used to be the most common business greeting. During the pandemic, we have learned about such alternatives as greeting with elbow bumps, fist bumps, a slight bow, or prayer hands.

Which of these greetings is the “correct” one in terms of business etiquette?

Answer. In Ukraine, people usually either resort to a verbal greeting along with a short nod, or – then again – shake hands, despite all sanitary precautions. Greeting with elbows or knuckles has not become very popular in our country. However, this does not mean that you cannot greet anyone like that. If you do not want to shake hands, explain it before anyone puts out their hand. Say that it is very nice to meet them, but since you care about their health, you prefer to greet each other in a different way. Most importantly, do not keep silent. A silent refusal to shake hands may look like a sign of contempt or unwillingness to communicate.

2. The Masks We Put On Every Day

Question. Even after mass vaccination started, some countries (including Ukraine) still have the rule about wearing masks on public transport and in other public places. What about business meetings? What is worse: not wearing a mask or refusing to take it off?

Answer. Several options are possible here depending on the circumstances: e.g., where the meeting takes place: in a small conference room or a in big hall which has enough space for maintaining social distance. Speaking about Ukraine after the start of mass vaccination, people usually ask each other whether it is okay (not) to take off their masks. That is, after formal greetings and before the event actually starts, the parties usually ask each other if it is convenient for everyone (not) to wear masks. However, we recommend having a mask in any case, since there is no way to check the vaccination status of each participant of the business event you are attending. Besides, even if most of the participants take off their masks, it does not mean that everyone else has to do the same.

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3. Non-Verbal Communication

Question. Does wearing masks in a meeting hinder non-verbal communication? How should one (not) express their emotions, and can one understand the reaction of other people if their faces are covered with masks?

Answer. The attitude to masks has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. Being treated as an uncomfortable accessory early in the pandemic, masks have quickly become an essential part of our wardrobes. This change could not but affect the psychology of communication. In general, people have learned to interpret each other's emotions based on each other’s eye movements, gestures and microexpressions. Therefore, there is no point in worrying that you might not understand other people properly. Most likely, your subconscious mind will do the job, and after the meeting, you will realize that you could easily notice the slightest signs of a positive or negative reaction to your words.

NB! If some participants have hearing difficulties, it is advisable to purchase some comfortable transparent masks in advance, so that they could communicate using sign language.

Accountor Ukraine cares about your health and adheres to the highest standards of business ethics. You can always find masks, gloves and sanitizers in our office, and we make sure to maintain social distance in a way that is both safe and most comfortable for our visitors.

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