Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 August 2020

Not ready to socialise? Dubai company gives staff colour-coded wristbands to indicate social distancing preference

Red, yellow and green bands show how comfortable team members are with office interaction

A traffic light-system of wristbands demonstrates how comfortable team members are with interaction in the office. Courtesy Create Media Group
A traffic light-system of wristbands demonstrates how comfortable team members are with interaction in the office. Courtesy Create Media Group

As we return to offices, many are navigating the new normal and figuring out new ways to interact with colleagues. For many, handshakes have been swapped for foot or elbow taps, meetings are at a distance and hugs and kisses are a thing of the past.

The bands have removed the awkward moment when everyone says 'hello'

Tom Otton, Create Media Group

But it still leaves some questions unanswered: who is feeling comfortable and confident interacting with people, and who would rather keep their distance?

One Dubai company has come up with a novel solution, encouraging staff to wear a colour-coded wristband that expresses exactly how comfortable they are, without having to put it into words.

Create Media Group has introduced the traffic light colour system. A green band means the team member is "OK with hugs and high-fives", yellow means they are "OK with talking but not touching", and red means they are "keeping their distance".

"I think we have all realised that everyone is reacting differently to the current Covid-19 situation, and there is no clear way to identify how people are feeling about interacting when they first greet each other," Create Media Group's managing partner, Tom Otton, told The National.

A team member wears a yellow wrist band, which indicates that they are happy to talk, but not touch, while sat at their desk. Courtesy Create Media Group 
A team member wears a yellow wristband, which indicates that they are happy to talk, but not touch, while sat at their desk. Courtesy Create Media Group

"When you take this into a large office environment, we needed a way for everyone to feel as safe as possible by showing how comfortable they are engaging, but without feeling uncomfortable about it. The bands have allowed everyone to do that as we have started to come back to the office."

The bands act as a clear, visual indicator from a distance, so should a team member be wearing the red band, their colleagues can see and respect their wishes from the recommended two metres away.

"Since you just don’t know what each person is dealing with back home in terms of ‘at risk’ family members or being at risk themselves, the bands have removed the awkward moment when everyone says 'hello', but sometimes just isn’t quite sure if a fist pump is appropriate or if they’re keeping their distance," he adds.

Although team members were away from the office for a few months as Dubai self-isolated, Otton says Create Media Group has been able to weather the pandemic's storm.

"Fortunately, being in the digital space, we have been able to navigate through this time with a great team and trusting clients," he says. "We’ve needed to hire for a number of new roles as our client profile and requirements have evolved in response to the changing environment."

Updated: July 28, 2020 04:45 PM

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