After the COVID-19 pandemic made catastrophic waves around the world, employers who could, sent their employees home to work, not quite knowing when things would be back to normal. After almost a year and a half with vaccinations available, organizations and businesses are finally requesting employees come back face-to-face at least part-time if not full-time. Even with safety measures in place, some people feel worried about the level of exposure to COVID-19 and its variants. Others who resist have gotten into the groove of working from home and aren’t entirely ready to pick up and go back to the office.
In 2020, Pew Research published results from a nationwide survey, which showed that 20% of employed adults who were surveyed already worked from home before the coronavirus outbreak. Of those same surveyed, 71% reported they were currently working from home as of Oct 2020.
It is understandable that those working from home for a period of time may be hesitant—for whatever reason—to physically go back to face-to-face work life. However, many people do not have a choice if they want to keep their job. Some employers are being more flexible and offering a part-time at home/work situation to ease back into the 9-5 at the office. Regardless, most of the world is going back to business as usual (while keeping safety measures) and they expect employees to follow suit.
Ultimately, employers and employees will reunite and it is up to both of them to find ways to have a successful transition back to work after working from home.
Keep reading to understand new ways to make this transition easier for you and your life.
Ease Your Worried Mind
The coronavirus and its variants are no joke. Despite political views, understanding of science, or religious views, the virus was and is out there, and taking safety measures is the best thing everyone can do to stay healthy.
It is reasonable that people are worried to return to work and physically be around more individuals than they would at home. That is why businesses continue to take measures to ensure the safety of their employees.
Regardless of what a workplace is doing, you can continue to be safe when you return to work. Do not feel pressured to take off your mask simply because others are. Keep sanitizing products at your desk and wipe things that people touch. Keep your distance as best you can from people if you are worried about crowds. If you travel for work, mask up and follow the airport and airlines requirements.
If you are still concerned about exposure, speak to your supervisor or boss about what the business is going in terms of health and safety. Most will be transparent, as they want and need people back to work.
Perhaps you have a request such as not having individuals walking in and out of your workspace. Put up a polite sign that says “Knock before entering” or “Please knock and wait at the door.” For those who work in cubicles, put up a sign by your desk that says “Please keep your distance and wear a mask.”
It is anyone’s prerogative to stay well. You do what you need to do to ease your mind while you are at work.
Being Prepared and Proactive
Now that you may have been asked to return to work, it is time to both mentally and physically prepare. While some people can simply pop back in like nothing ever happened, most people need somewhat of a transition. Being proactive now while you’re still home or while you’re still new to “back to work” will help you with a smooth transition.
An article from business experts at Forbes gives three great strategies to successfully transition back to the office.
- Talk about your re-entry plan.
- Try to ramp up rather than dive in.
- Start adjusting your routine even while you are at home.
You will not only want to prepare physically but also mentally. Being stuck at home has been quite hard on employee’s mental health. It is important to practice self-care before, during, and after this big transition back to work.
- Practice mindfulness
- Take mini-breaks at work
- Find coping skills and ways to calm your mind
- Have open and honest communication with your boss and co-workers
- Don’t hold anything inside
- Talk to a professional therapist if desired
There are various things you can do to cope from a mental standpoint that will ease your transition back to a physical workspace.
Clinical psychologist Yasmine Saad, Ph.D. says in an interview with VeryWellMind, “From a career perspective, it will show your commitment to your work and your flexibility to go through another transition, which will be appreciated by your job.”
No one knows for sure what the future will hold in terms of this consequential pandemic. We do know, however, that many of us have responsibilities in the office that are calling us back face-to-face. Instead of being overcome with worry and hesitation, we can be proactive, plan for a smooth transition, and make our mental and physical health a number one priority.