As coronavirus restrictions continue to lift on the roadmap out of lockdown, many of us might be going back into the office for the first time in months, maybe even a year. Lockdown has affected us all in different ways, and it is only normal to feel uncertain about what the future holds. Many people feel confused, worried and apprehensive about going back to the workplace. Organisations will be considering a range of adjustments to the way work is done, to comply with government recommendations. However, as you approach your return to work, there are some general principles that will give you the best chance of making the transition back into the office go as smoothly and safely as possible.
Preparing to return to the office
Think about your job and your situation. Does anything need to change to help you do your job well? If you haven’t already been told what to expect, ask what provisions have been made to create a safe work environment, it’s important to keep in touch with colleagues and your line manager. It can be helpful to think through what will happen on the first day back, things like how you will get to work, who will be there and if anything will be needed to be done differently to get your job done. If you consider these things before you get in, you’ll be more prepared when you get into the office in the morning.
Keeping things realistic
The way we all work is likely to keep changing in the coming weeks so we will need to keep adjusting. Don’t expect everything to quickly return to normal. We have a long journey ahead. We may not be able to go back to our old ways of working for some time, but if this is the case, you should see this as an opportunity to do things differently, more efficiently, better. Look out for yourself, look out for others and take each day and week at a time.
Limit exposure to colleagues
Depending on what job you do, you might have to spend time in close proximity with colleagues. Your employer should make appropriate provisions to ensure the space is safe and that everybody is not mixing, but if necessary, take your own precautions to limit your exposure with other people. Apart from the obvious things like avoiding the kitchen or break out areas, you can phone or video call people, even if they are in the same building as you.
Wear a face mask
You’ve probably been doing this whenever you go out for months now and are absolutely sick of the sight of them. But face masks do stop the spread, and if you’re mixing in an area with other people, like when you walk into the reception area, or a communal kitchen, then put on a face mask and reduce the risk of contamination.
Connect with your colleagues
As well as being a part of good communication within your team or department, speaking with your colleagues can be good for your mental health. You don’t need to always talk about work, but a quick check-in will help you feel connected. We have all been impacted by the coronavirus in different ways, and other people might share the feelings that you have or have some great ideas for things that have helped them when they have been feeling low during lockdown. If you share with others, they will be better able to help you in the months ahead.