Debates on “Unnecessary Touching” Was Resolved With Finality

In February (was that only 10 weeks ago?) I was conducting a training session for senior leaders at a bank. Many of the leaders had traveled to attend the session, as had I. As people came together from different regions, people got up and warmly greeted each other, hugging or, at the very least, shaking hands. It was a scene that exuded warmth and affection then, and would now exemplify unwelcome conduct creating distress.

As people begin returning to their workplaces, policies on touching will look very different. Any unnecessary touching would probably be addressed, when in the past policies focused on “unwelcome” touching or “unprofessional” conduct. We are now even advised not to touch our own faces.

I suspect that even when COVID-19 is no longer an issue, there will be an expectation that people will refrain from “unnecessary” touching in the workplace and keeping a “respectful” distance. And I think these new policies are here to stay. The next generation will not necessarily know how these policies originated and will take for granted that unnecessary touching is not professional or appropriate.

What has been debated for decades about touching was resolved with finality practically overnight.