As restrictions ease and a new normal rolls in, companies are allowing their employees to return to the office. But it’s not like the day we had all hoped for where the pandemic magically disappears; it comes with social distancing protocol, enhanced cleaning, and mask-wearing. Whether returning to work is mandatory, optional, or a hybrid of going in a few days of the week– it comes with a lot of anxiety and things to consider. Not to mention dealing with homeschooling and childcare on top of that. So how does one prepare?
Cut Yourself a Break
After a tough transition into working from home, going back to work isn’t going to be a walk in a park either. That is in part because of how our brains make sense of unexpected change. Accept this and be gentle with yourself when going back. Depending on your current work from home situation, it could be a great way to get out of the house for a few days and reconnect with others, but you may experience anxiety around the possibility of getting sick. You also have probably been acquainted with your new routine and are having to switch back again. Monitor your anxiety and find relevant resources to manage it– meditation, working out, talking to HR, or finding a therapist are a few ideas.
As much as your anxiety may be high, so is your company’s. Be compassionate as they are also learning how to adjust. Companies are working to ensure everyone is safe and happy in their work environment. Flexibility is key. Recognize that things will frequently change as your company learns and receives feedback from employees.
Understand What You Need
Before you go back to the office, take inventory of your life, how it’s changed, and what you now need. This will help you communicate with your company what is most important and how they can support you in yet another transition. Do you only want to go in a couple of days a week? Are your kids learning from home? Do you live with someone who is at high risk? If you fully evaluate before going back (and before making the decision to go back), you will be able to ensure you’re taking the best care of yourself rather than allowing your company to choose for you. Ask all the questions you need to about safely returning to work!
Read the Rules
As the office will be different than you last experienced it, company-wide emails getting everyone on the same page will be a given. Make sure to read and ask all questions before going in. Where do you need to wear your mask? Are you going back to your usual desk? How are bigger meetings going to be accomplished?
Improve everyone’s transition back to work by being a ray of light! Be mindful that everyone is going through a hard time right now and take the initiative to ask others how they are. This will make them feel connected and included. Brainstorm new ways everyone can support each other and be vocal about them.
Overall, going back to work is something you need to prepare for mentally. Stay positive and focus on your own transition and how you can support others. As long as you are open and flexible to more change, you will make it through! There are lots to consider, but health and safety are the biggest two– we recommend reading our recent blog on staying healthy in the workplace.