How to Social Distance in the Office AKA How to Stay Sane When Tensions Run High

Get ideas for social distancing at the office including conference room social distancing plus products & tactics that make employees feel safe.

A show of hands, please (sanitized hands, that is): How many of us wash our reusable face masks every day? Some of you—nay, many of you—are rock stars and have yesterday’s masks in the dryer right this minute. You’re the alphas who sleep trained your newborns by week three, organized all the office potlucks (when those were still a thing), and never left your garbage cans at the curb overnight. It’s you guys who make the world keep spinning and my hat’s off to you (not my mask, that stays on). I, conversely, am usually late to every trend, the last to volunteer for the carpool (not that there is one at the moment), and forget my phone every single time I leave the house. This is an odd, long-winded, and long-winding way to bring up the touchy subject of office social distancing in general and conference room social distancing in particular.

Where’s the connection, and why so touchy? Well, for starters, rules keep changing and in many cases there are no hard and fast rules to begin with. Not only do recommendations vary, but routines and lifestyles at home do, too. Like, how strictly your family is quarantining or how often you’re exposed to strangers and for how long. So staying safe as we return to office life to whatever extent we do, is a moving target that can make tensions rise.

Social distancing while in the office seems to be one common theme we can all wrap our metaphorical arms around. When there’s doubt, it’s best to keep social distance intact. What we do know about returning to work, or pretty much everything else during COVID, is that social distancing is a good idea. Six feet, to be exact. If you spread your arms and spin, and the co-worker next to you does the same, hopefully your sanitized fingers don’t touch.

One of many things COVID is teaching us as employers and employees is how creative, flexible, and resourceful we can be in the name of keeping everyone safe. With that in mind, here are a few office social distancing ideas and tips for making tricky, tension-filled situations more relaxed, for employees ranging from the nightly mask washer types to the “does a beach bonfire with good friends count as risky?” types.

Whether you’re preparing to welcome employees back into the office, or continue to encourage them to feel as safe as possible under strange circumstances, here are a few tips and products that we think will help:

Office Social Distancing Tips

  • Stagger days where employees come in to maximize physical space between co-workers. Establish “cohorts” of employees who come in on the same days according to collaboration and other needs for in-person meetings. Allow employees to schedule their “in office” days in a calendar viewable to all, to encourage coworkers to coordinate their “in office” days.
  • Offer in-office employees the option to shift from strictly weekday hours to some weekend hours to allow more staggering of employees throughout the office.
  • Consider moving past an hourly mentality to a project-based mentality so employees are encouraged to get in, get done, and get out.
  • Encourage a fluid work from home/work from office approach where employees do not feel pressured to show up “just for appearances.”
  • Have single-use masks easily available to encourage compliance.
  • Add plants and other natural barriers between working areas to encourage a healthy distance and a peaceful vibe.
  • Limit restroom attendees at the same time and keep Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer Gel Packets next to the soap.

Best Sellers at

Conference Room Social Distancing Tips

  • Remove chairs to limit the number of participants, or, to ensure physical distance is maintained, keep all chairs in the conference room but apply caution tape to every other one.
  • Have at-home participants involved via a video app so the team feels connected even in a hybrid office/home work environment.
  • Have complementary masks and hand sanitizer in bulk by the door of every conference room to encourage safety.
  • To encourage efficient and safe in-person meetings, limit conference room meetings to a prescribed time duration company-wide.
  • Limit agenda items for in-person meetings to topics that need to be addressed in person, rather than a longer list of less-related topics.
  • If an in-person participant has completed their contribution and the meeting is still going on, encourage them to leave. It’s no longer rude to leave mid-meeting!

Promotional Employee Gifts in Times of Social Distance

Send customized masks to make wearing them fun, and offer options if you can to suit individual preferences, like different colors, patterns, thickness, or a shield instead of a mask:

Full Color 3-Layer Reusable Face Mask

Reusable Face Mask

Custom Plastic Face Shield

Send a “back to work” PPE kit to each employee’s home. We like these:

Essential Back to Work Kit

Essential Protection Kit

Greet returning employees with fun, functional tools that help them feel welcome, hopeful, and prepared:

Full Color Touch-Free Tool

Paragon Pen & Stylus Tip

Contour Pen with Antimicrobial Additive

Eco-Planter 3 Pack

Tip: For more in-office social distancing product ideas, browse our full selection of Social Distancing Products. To see all our offerings related to COVID-19 protection, including masks, antimicrobial pens, and more, take a look at our full collection of COVID-19 Related Products.

Office Social Distancing: Focus on What Bonds Us

Back in the good ol’ days of say, 2019, office social distancing applied to the co-worker with untreated halitosis or the lunchtime runner who insisted there was no time for a shower. But today it applies to everyone and it’s an opportunity to unite us in mutual respect and protection.

When I re-enter my office building (whenever that is), it’ll be with a stack of clean masks and an affinity for telecommuting and very small groups. Come to think of it, just as good fences make good neighbors, I suspect implementing social distancing ideas at the office may improve morale, collaboration, and tolerance for mid-day workouts and garlic-filled lunches.

For more ideas about how to keep your team, customers, and business safe, check out:

Let us know how you’re social distancing at the office. We’re on Facebook and Instagram. See you there!

P.S. As I finish up this blog I’m washing all my masks. They’re in the washing machine now, which is set to “hot”.

Karleen Wise Andersen

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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