Handshaking at work amid coronavirus concerns

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- Concerns about the coronavirus are now sparking questions about what is appropriate in the workplace.

Brandon Smith,"The Workplace Therapist," is also an Emory University adjunct business professor. He says he is still shaking hands with people.

“It's not bothering me enough right now to stop that behavior, but it wouldn't offend me if someone said they were concerned and didn't want to," said Smith. "If you choose not to give a handshake, you offer some kind of reason why, because in absence of communication people always assume the worst, so if I don't shake your hand and I don't tell you why, you may say, that guy doesn't like me," said Smith.

He says when giving team presentations to clients, consistency is important.

“So no one on the team gets a handshake, that's just how we're going to roll. It makes it really consistent, it makes everyone know what they're supposed to do," Smith said.

He also says humor can work too when trying to diffuse an awkward situation when not shaking hands.

“So if you say I'm going to bow to you and that becomes the fun cultural thing that you do in the office during this time to make it lighthearted, but still acknowledge people's worries, that's a great approach, anyway we can remove that anxiety and fear,” Smith said.

He says employers need to clarify three things:

How they want employees to interact with each other, to shake hands, or not shake hands, clarify work from home policies with employees, and clarify ways employees can get help if they are worried or anxious about the coronavirus.

Copyright 2019 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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