Returning To The Office After Lockdown?
As the UK tiptoes its way through the roadmap out of lockdown, employers are beginning to reopen their offices. Certainly, many people have had enough of endless Zoom calls and tapping on a laptop on a kitchen table. They’re champing at the bit to return to the world of whiteboard meetings and face to face lunches. However, millions have loved the flexibility of home working, the end of commutes and the extra family time. If this is you, then the thought of going back to the office may fill you with dread. With a recent study showing only 23.9% of workers want to go back to the office full-time, then you are not alone! But with the right mindset, going back need not be painful. If you’re returning to the office after lockdown, here are some tips on how to stay sane.
Don’t let feelings of dread take over – instead remind yourself constantly of the positives of going back to the office after lockdown. You may not have seen any of your colleagues for well over a year. Think how nice it will be to see them again and catch up. The return to the 9-5 routine will be welcome too – research has shown UK workers have increased their working week by nearly 25% during the pandemic. Separating home life and work life will be far easier!
Go To Bed!
Even if we’ve been working longer hours at home, chances are our old working and life routines have been completely compromised. Most of us have been going to bed later and getting up later. You should look to reset your clock back to what it was before March 2020. Don’t try to do this in one go, you’ll likely find it hard to switch off and end up staring at the ceiling. You’ll be exhausted in the morning too. Make short, 15-minute adjustments each day until your old sleep patterns are restored. Getting your routine back will help reduce your anxiety levels when you return to the office after lockdown.
Check Workplace Practices In Advance
For all the “return to normality” talk, you should not expect the office to be the same place you left. You will not be going back to work in anything like normal conditions. You’ll likely have to contend with Perspex screens, one-way systems and the constant blast of air conditioning (regardless of the weather). Certain things you’ve unconsciously taken for granted – office banter, small talk at your friend’s desk and tea rounds will be far less common or absent altogether. By checking office practices before you go back, your return will be less of a shock to the system. Raise any concerns you have with your line manager too.
Take It Easy
Going back to the office is going to take some adjusting to after over a year away. Your routine will change massively and you’ll need to spend some time reconnecting with your colleagues and your clients. If you can, slip back into the office rhythm by disposing of easy tasks first before tackling more complex ones. Not only will things feel different now, but we’ll all likely have to contend with more changes as we slowly emerge into the post-COVID era. Be kind to yourself and don’t get frustrated – everyone will be in the same boat.
Look After Yourself
The end of lockdown is going to be a strange experience – liberating but also unnerving too. We’ll face many challenges when we return to the office after lockdown. It is critical we all take as much care of our body and mind as possible. It’s important to make time in the day for activities that help us unwind and relax. Exercise is a brilliant way to decompress while getting you fit. Alternatively, many find meditation, practicing mindfulness and breathing exercises are a great help. There are many apps out there to choose from. Eat a balanced diet and reduce your intake in alcohol; lockdown has seen a major increase in drinking.
It’s Good To Talk
Ok – we know the opportunities to chat with your colleagues in the office may be reduced. But if you still feel, or develop anxieties when you’re back in work, then it is vital you speak with your line manager. They should be able to tell you the policies and measures in place to keep employees safe and healthy. You won’t be alone and a chat with them may assuage your concerns.
Many of us will feel some anxiety over the coming months as we return to the office after lockdown. It is a completely normal response to a very challenging time. But if you feel anxiety is getting the better of you, then you need to reach out to a health professional. Your GP will be able to help, while charity organizations such as Mind can offer advice and support too.