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Unexpected Consequence of Pandemic: Bad Office Behavior

The Los Angeles Times reports that as more employers ask employees to work in the office, they find that employees are "a little rusty" with their interactions. At least six in ten companies plan to send their employees to office etiquette classes through 2024, per a July 2023 survey of 1548 business leaders by The requests come from a variety of industries, such as engineering, insurance, luxury car dealerships, healthcare, finance, and architecture.

Workplace etiquette companies interviewed by the LA Times say business is up post-pandemic. One company head said it used to hold staff trainings once or twice a month but now receives four to six requests per month. The owner commented, "The soft skills that are necessary to have a harmonious workplace were not being used" when everyone was home. Workplace skills are akin to a muscle. They became weak during the pandemic. The etiquette courses include professionalism in the office and on Zoom, how to give feedback, appropriate dress codes, remembering names, and how to behave during a business lunch. Training also touches on handshaking in a post-pandemic world and how to handle small talk. Another frequent topic is bridging relations between the broad span of generations in the workplace.

Common complaints received about employees in the office include loud talking, office gossip, and being unprepared for meetings – such as arriving late and dominating the conversation, according to HR consulting firm Robert Half. Of course, these issues existed before the pandemic, but things have worsened, and many people are less tolerant. Workplace issues may encourage higher workplace turnover because unhappy workers want to leave. These courses can help speed up issue resolution and increase worker sensitivity to coworkers.