If you spent the summer working from home or were one of the 9 million+ people in the UK who were furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re probably now thinking about what will happen when you return to work.
As it currently stands, the UK government are advising the majority of businesses to reopen and to encourage their staff to return to work, if it is safe for them to do so.
So much has changed since the start of the pandemic and lockdown will have affected everyone differently. So, if you are feeling anxious or worried about returning to the workplace, that’s okay.
To help you manage your return to work, here are some things you may need to consider and tips to help you with your transition back.
Every workplace is different and preparations for your safe return to work will differ from one place to another. However, there are some general guidelines which all workplaces might be considering so their staff can return to work feeling safe and happy.
Before you start to go back to the workplace, your employer might reach out to you to see how you feel about going back. This is so they can take your views into consideration. The government are also advising all businesses to carry out a risk assessment, to ensure all staff, including vulnerable people, are kept safe and any potential risks are managed.
Other adjustments to your working life may include staggered start and end times to allow you to travel during off-peak periods; additional handwashing facilities should be available as well as PPE and screens (if necessary); you may be asked to split your time between your workplace and home to ensure everyone can stick to social distancing measures on the days they are in; you may be part of a phased return, and there may be one-way flow systems around the office too.
Employers who are opening their businesses have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their staff and if you have any concerns, raise this with your employer as soon as possible. If you’re not happy with their response, then you may wish to seek help from Citizens Advice.
Plan and Prepare
If you’re nervous about returning to work, then do a little preparation to ease your mind. If you have not heard from your employer, reach out to them to find out what adjustments are being made and what will be expected of you over the coming months. Think about what things may have to change for your job role and communicate any concerns you may have.
Also, consider how your first day may be different. Are you concerned about travel? If so, could you take an alternative route? Could you cycle or walk? Or if you rely on public transport, can you amend your working hours, so you can travel at quieter times? Make sure you have all your day-to-day essentials too, including a face mask or covering, hand gel and tissues.
Find out who will be at work with you on your first day or week - it may help to know that you’re going to see a close colleague or friend after so many months!
Remember, if you have any COVID-19 related symptoms do not go into work or travel on public transport. Let your employer know as soon as possible.
Take it One Step at a Time
Our day to day lives have changed, so it’s fair to say things are going to feel a little unusual when you go back to work. Take each day as it comes, keep communicating with your employer and colleagues and take care of yourself.
Keep a check on your mental health too, ask yourself how you are feeling each day and if something feels wrong – address it. If you share your feelings with others, it may help you feel better in the weeks and months ahead.
Lastly, remember we’re all in this together. Be kind, be considerate and help others as all get used to a new way of working.