Preparing to go back to work

Raring to go or reluctant returners

Slowly but surely, things seem to be getting back to 'normal', although for most of us the normal of pre-March 2020 may never return. Many of us have lost loved ones, many of us have suffered from lockdown in tough home situations. And even for those of us who didn't have too hard a time during lock down, the lack of personal contact with friends, family and colleagues is taking a toll.

Going back to work - can't quite decide whether we're raring to go or reluctant returners... (Photo: AliaksandrKalodziy morguefile)

So when the go ahead finally comes to go back to work, how will we all cope?

Here at Kosmos we have been talking about this, and it seems like we may need to consider how to get work 'fit' again. 'Fit' in the physical sense of the word, but also prepare mentally.

Routine

You will need to think about your routine - during lockdown this will most likely have been one of the first things to go! Having a regular sleep pattern again is key. We need to essentially train ourselves back into a routine. So it's a good idea to set the alarm for when you would normally get up if you were to travel to the office in the morning. Don't press snooze and have another hour and a half in bed, tempting as it may be. Get up, and go for a long walk or a run, just get yourself out of the house and be outside. Your body will start getting used to waking up at a set time again and being active, which will help you sleep better at the end of the day, too

Morning routines - if you lost them, get them back! (Photo: thesuccess, Morguefiles)

Mental health

It's not just about waking up early to make it to work on time, but it's about being around people again, facing the crowds of your daily commute and the pressure of work. How can you make sure you can cope after months at home. Or more importantly: should you be expected to cope?

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, “people placed in quarantine or self-isolation may experience a wide range of feelings, including fear, anger, sadness, irritability, guilt or confusion. They may find it hard to sleep.” The pandemic may also increase feelings of stress, anxiety or depression.

Returning after many months away may not be too unlike returning to work after you have been ill or have had an injury. It's a good idea to make a bit of a plan. Make a list of your worries, for example childcare, the commute, the hours, being able to safely social distance from your colleagues... And think of ways you can deal with these. Talk to your colleagues and employer, they may very well have the exact same worries.

Don't underestimate the importance of addressing mental well-being when going back to work. (Photo: quicksandala Morguefile)

Should our work life go back to how it was before lock down?

"As people postulate how the country may be forever changed by the pandemic, we can hope that one major shift will be a move away from the harmful assumption that a 24/7 work culture is working well for anyone." - What Will Work-Life Balance Look Like After the Pandemic? - Harvard Business Review

One thing we need to examine is how 'normal' was the pre-COVID normal? Perhaps one thing to make yourself work 'fit' again is remembering your priorities as you found them throughout lockdown. What did you miss the most? Are there things you can do to hold on to the positives from lockdown life?

Many of us are now keen walkers, runners and cyclists - can you incorporate these into your work life routine? Cycling to work takes the pressure off our public transport, helps prevent spread of the virus, and of course it's good for you and for the planet. Similarly working from home a few days per week can help in this respect. It's a good idea to think about how you can do things differently and create your own 'new normal' while making yourself work 'fit' again.

Walking or cycling to work rather than getting public transport or jumping in your car - you stay healthy, the people around you stay healthy and so does the planet. Sounds like a pretty good 'normal' to strive for. (Photo: melcandea Morguefile)

Added on 08 June 2020