How to address COVID concerns at work

by Dec 1, 2020

Many of us are returning to the office, never left the office, or frequently work in close quarters with others during the work day. With the fluctuating guidelines surrounding the pandemic, it’s exhausting to keep up with what’s allowed and not allowed. Plus, many protocols differ depending on where we live — some companies may even have two offices following two different sets of rules. We get it … we’re all ready for this to be over.

But until then, how can we balance a potential difference of opinion when it comes to staying safe at work (and in general)? It can feel frustrating when we feel one way about things and someone else on our team views it differently. If you’re running into some COVID-related snags at work, there are plenty of ways to tactfully address them and also keep yourself safe:

  • Keep the focus on you. If you’re uncomfortable and want to address it, use “I” statements. We know, it sounds cheesy. But saying things like “I feel more comfortable if…” or “I like to wear masks when…” is more productive than placing blame on others.
  • Talk to HR or a supervisor about extra sanitizing materials. Make sure your company is providing wipes, sanitizers, and adequate soap, particularly in shared spaces or areas that require a lot of hands-on tasks. If you have a meeting or lunch in a common area, wipe down your space before and after eating.
  • Communicate your boundaries. If you feel uneasy in conference rooms or during team gatherings, let your supervisor know. Express to them that you’d love to tune in virtually if possible, because you don’t want to miss anything important. If video calls aren’t an option, use a phone! Speaker phone is just as good. If you have to be there in-person, mask up and keep your distance from others. For example, stand in the back or corner.
  • Wear your mask. We understand that masks are a sensitive topic. Unfortunately, we can’t control others, but we can control what we do to guard our own health. If you work in close quarters with people who aren’t following company or local protocols, consider approaching HR if you’ve already tried to address it with them. Chances are, you aren’t the only one who feels nervous.
  • Understand your company’s guidelines. For your own safety, get clarification on your company’s COVID policies if they seem unclear. It’s always good to understand the rules before approaching someone that might not be adhering to them. And don’t be afraid to make suggestions if you see holes in the guidelines!
  • Manage your stress levels. There are multiple tools out there that can help monitor your stress levels. Apps like Calm are good for post-work meditation and reflection when you need to relax after a rough day. Here at Sonic Boom, our members love the Mood Tracker in our app, as well as the self-guided mental-wellbeing courses we offer in partnership with Healbright. Both are excellent tools for lowering stress.
  • Wait for the next elevator. If you need to enter an elevator during the day, wait for an empty one. If you’re able to take the stairs, do that instead.
  • Invite colleagues to cooperate. Rather than calling out others, invite them to hold you accountable. This can serve as an indirect, yet effective way of encouraging different behavior. Ask them to “call you out” if you forget your mask or skip sanitizing in between tasks. This can plant a seed with them to keep a better tab on their own habits.
  • Leave politics out of it. We all know how heated 2020 has been. Keep political views out of any conversations, and focus on addressing your immediate concerns about safety and wellbeing at work.
  • See if free testing is offered in your area. Some cities are offering free COVID tests, symptoms or no symptoms. Peace of mind can’t be overstated!

These are just a few ideas — give some (or all!) of these a try, and email us at [email protected] if we missed anything.