The Future of Work Etiquette in a Post-Pandemic World

Updated: Jun 15

Working during the pandemic has proven to be a challenge for both employees and employers. With so much uncertainty in how business processes can change in the blink of an eye, it is difficult to know what the next steps are. As we look towards a post-pandemic future, how much of these processes will stay the same, and how much will differ in a post-pandemic world?



From dress codes to other HR policies, companies have once again had to pivot these processes to suit the pandemic and post-pandemic world. As companies are also faced with the challenge of a rise in turnovers in the near future, they must ensure that these changes are also received well by employees, in an effort to retain talent.


Dress Code Detour


Dress code, among other things, has changed in many workplaces since the start of the pandemic. Depending on the workplace, many employees have shifted from formalwear to causalwear. With no need to dress up for work as much, many employees have taken this as an opportunity to work in more comfortable clothes. In fact, this clothing style has become so popular that many businesses have seen drastic increases in the sale of these products. According to Fox Business, casualwear such as bathrobes and tracksuits have become increasingly popular, with products such as sweat pants experiencing a 39% sellout increase.


However, is this trend here to stay? According to experts, dress code in the future may be viewed as more of a guideline and less of a firm requirement. With so many more people working in casualwear, some think that dress code will not be what it once was. Since some form of remote model is likely to stay in the near future, many people are looking for more comfortable clothing. This in turn has also helped to boost e-commerce sales and their prominence in society.


Dress codes are not bound to go away completely in a post-pandemic world. Even in virtual hiring environments dress code can be a key component, and should still be considered at times.


The Right to Disconnect Policy


As the line between work and home life becomes more and more blurred, many employees have had a difficult time disconnecting from their jobs. Employees seem to be connected or “on-call” at all times, which is why there has become a need for a policy that allows employees to “log-off” at a certain time of day without any consequences or accountability. However, implementing this sort of policy has only proven to be more difficult in a remote environment. It has become very difficult to disconnect, since people may be working at different hours of the day, and thus may be receiving emails at all hours. That is why it is important to create boundaries and an email schedule to avoid unnecessary stress.


Currently, Canada is forming a plan to integrate this policy with federal employees. Although it does not cover non-federal sectors such as hospitality, education and healthcare, it is certainly a step in the right direction, and hopefully the provincial governments in charge of these sectors will take note. Canada can certainly learn a lot from its global peers like Spain, the Philippines, France, and Italy, who have all implemented some degree of this policy in their workforces.


With so many changes on the horizon, it can be a bit overwhelming for companies to contemplate right now. In a post-pandemic world, there will certainly be things that will remain the same, but also processes that will have to be adjusted. With proper planning, this should make the transition back into a post-pandemic world a bit easier, as many companies are still struggling to navigate the economy and society. One thing that companies should keep in mind is the needs of their employees throughout all of this. This has been an exhausting period for many employees, and many are tired and burned out. As long as this is a guiding principle, companies can rebuild their workplaces and once again foster an interactive and interconnected community of employees.


Empathy Vs. Courtesy


In a pre-pandemic world, courtesy is a common and expected form of workplace etiquette. Being respectful of and working well with others in a work environment, being honest, and performing tasks promptly, are all types of courteous behaviour. Especially with the onset of a mass global event like the pandemic, etiquette is bound to change. As put by HBR author Amy Bernstein, “manners don’t change, but etiquette evolves” (Bernstein 2014).


In the case of the pandemic, many people have been through a difficult time, and as a result, a notion of empathy towards others has evolved. Life came to a halting stop, and with everything that has happened, people should be more empathetic towards each other. Everyone is exhausted from these last 15 months, and deserves to be cut some slack. This includes within the workplace. As many companies are still contemplating their plans for work in a post-pandemic world, one thing that should be kept in mind is empathetic workplace etiquette. Understanding that this will be a tough transition for everyone, and some may have more extenuating circumstances than others. Companies have had to prepare to rapidly accommodate any changes, families with children have faced the challenge of online learning, and many people have had to step up to help with their elderly parents during these difficult times.


As companies gear up to revamp their workplace structures for the near future, many employees are making decisions about what lies ahead for them. Something like workplace etiquette may seem like a small component of a business, but it can have a big impact on the culture and overall workplace environment. That is why maintaining a courteous, empathetic environment is important in these changing times, while also allowing employees flexibility.


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Citations:

  1. Bernstein, A. (2014, April). Behave yourself! Retrieved June 14, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2014/04/behave-yourself

  2. Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Frankiewicz, B. (2020, October 13). The post-pandemic rules of talent management. Retrieved June 14, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2020/10/the-post-pandemic-rules-of-talent-management

  3. Henshall, A. (2021, May 21). Can the ‘right to disconnect’ exist in a remote-work world? Retrieved June 14, 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20210517-can-the-right-to-disconnect-exist-in-a-remote-work-world

  4. Lynch, H., & Zandan, N. (2020, June 18). Dress for the (remote) job you want. Retrieved June 14, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2020/06/dress-for-the-remote-job-you-want

  5. Orr, J. (2021, April 29). Post-pandemic fashion: is the office dress code dead? Retrieved June 14, 2021, from https://allwork.space/2021/04/post-pandemic-fashion-is-the-office-dress-code-dead/

  6. Settembre, J. (2020, March 25). Loungewear sales soar in coronavirus quarantine. Retrieved June 14, 2021, from https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/gap-loungewear-retailers-increase-sales

  7. Shepherd, L. (2021, May 5). Canada considers granting right to disconnect. Retrieved June 14, 2021, from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/global-hr/pages/canada-considers-right-to-disconnect.aspx

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