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Some provinces now have official guidelines in place requiring citizens to wear a face mask when indoors in public, but so far, BC has not made mask-wearing mandatory.

Kids wearing masks

We’re all new to this and navigating the evolving nuances and etiquette of mask wearing in the workplace can be confusing. Personal choices aside, with some businesses returning to in-person contact, what is the etiquette around wearing a mask at work? 

The Official Take

While choosing to wear a mask remains a personal choice (as at July 2020), the BC Centre for Disease Control states that masks can be worn to help protect those around you, and they should be worn by people who are sick. Face masks are also recommended when it is not possible to stay two metres apart from others.

WorkSafe recommends masks in some industries and in some types of work environments where distancing isn’t possible (like hair salons), but for most businesses, there aren’t specific government or regulatory guidelines in place addressing mask wearing.

Masks and Meeting Etiquette

Masks and distancing are new elements to consider in meeting planning. Our take? If you absolutely must meet in person with someone and they have chosen to wear a face mask, the polite move is to ask if they prefer you also wear a mask. After all, it’s hard to conduct a productive meeting if the other person is nervous about protecting themselves from illness. Wearing a mask out of respect demonstrates interest in protecting them and ensuring their comfort.  

Take some of the awkwardness out of it by asking in advance. In your meeting invite, specify if you will be wearing a face mask, and clarify whether you’d like them to as well. It’s as simple as stating:

I will have a face mask with me, so please let me know if you would like me to wear a face mask.

OR

During our meeting, I will wear a face mask, and I ask that you also wear a face mask if you are able to.

We know that some people may not be able to wear a face mask for a variety of reasons. If that’s you, spell it out to the other person. Communication is key – simply state “For personal/health reasons, I’m not able to wear a face mask, but will make sure to stay 2 metres away from you”.

Consider your colleagues’ comfort as well. If other team members are working in the same space, let them know in advance that you are meeting with external stakeholders. Send out a message ahead of time so that they can do what they need to do to feel safe.

Wearing It Right

If you choose to wear a mask, knowing how to select the right mask, and how to wear it properly are also important! If you want to encourage your team members to wear a mask, consider providing them with reusable masks that can be washed and re-worn. Whether they choose to use it or not, you’ve removed a potential barrier and indicated that you care by providing the tools!

Your Engaged HR Assignment:

Do you have a clear policies and procedures for employees on mask-wearing at work? Clarity is key! Provide employees with the expectations and the tools to remove ambiguity and ensure the new normal feels safe and comfortable for all. And don’t forget, we are happy to help so give us a call anytime!

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