Tips for transitioning back to work

2020 will go down in history for many reasons, but for lots of us it’s the year where we were all sent home from our workplaces with no sign of when we would return.

As of March 2020, a large part of the UK workforce learned a word never heard before; furlough. In the blink of an eye, millions of people were told they would not be needed for work for the foreseeable future, meaning they just acquired more spare time than they had ever had.

Being at home almost 24/7 has become the new normal, but as lockdown measures ease and people start to go back to work it can be quite an overwhelming prospect. The thought of readjusting back to pre-lockdown life can be very daunting and for some it will be a big change.

At some point the majority of us will return to work, albeit still at home, but we can prepare for it and follow the tips below to help make it an easier transition.

1. Accept that things will be different

As much as we all want to get back to pre-COVID normality, that is a long way off. You might be going back to work, but most of us are still at home and confined mainly to our makeshift desks. Going back to our offices is a long way off yet for most but for those who are going back to their places of work, things are going to be different. From the workplace itself to the public transport we use to get there and the coffee shop we go to at lunch, there will be measures in place and the vibe won’t be back to normal because people will still be cautious and wary, but that’s okay and it will pass in time.

2. Remember everyone is in the same boat

If you are struggling to readjust to work then talk to someone, because there will be others in your position that are feeling exactly the same. Try and take comfort in the fact that this is new and uncharted territory for everyone. Businesses are having to make decisions and implement changes they’ve never thought about before. If you have any worries then talk to your manager and try and find a solution. This is all new and no one is going to get it right all the time.

3. Get back into a good sleep routine

Personally, I’ve kept a pretty normal sleep routine but I’ve got a habit of lounging in bed until after 9am. If you know you are going back to work after months off, then it is going to take your body time to adjust. A few days before you are scheduled to start back, try and get back into your pre-COVID sleeping pattern. This will help your work day feel more ‘normal’.

4. Make sure you take breaks

If you have just spent months on furlough, then there’s a good chance your brain has not been used in the way it usually would at work, so when you start working again it’s going to be mentally tiring. You might be busy, possibly busier than ever, but make sure you are still taking breaks and giving your brain a rest. This can be hard at home, so sometimes setting alarms can be useful and, if possible, go for a walk at lunch – it can help break up the day and give your mind a rest.

5. Bring furlough hobbies into your work life

If you have started any hobbies (I have taken up practising yoga every day) then try and continue this into life going forward. If it’s something that brings you joy then keep doing it – in the current circumstances we all need a bit of that. Life for most of us was so busy pre-COVID that we found very little time for the things we love, so don’t make the mistake of falling back into that trap and make yourself find that time.

This is a funny old time and I’m sure there will be bumps in the road, but I hope these tips help a little with the transition back to a semi-normal working life.