The CareerBuilder Back to Work Guide

Recently, Today published an article on “separation anxiety” from the home. Many employees are returning to office or site after many months spent working from home, and some of them are experiencing fear, anxiety and worry over yet another change in their lives.

After all, it’s not a simple matter of going back to the office the same way we used to. There are now many more measures in place, as many companies have cut down on face-to-face meetings and implemented social distancing and temperature screening. Hence, for many, returning to the office means leaving the “safety” of the home that sheltered them from the pandemic, to go into the “unsecure” area of the workplace and its new customs.

If you’re feeling shaking after getting a “return to office” notification, this is the guide for you. The following tips will help you prepare for a big adjustment and settle into the “new normal”, while keeping anxieties at bay.

  1. Bring a reminder of home

    Separation anxiety has its roots in the shift from the “secure” to the “unknown”. Ease that transition by bringing something from your home to the office to remind yourself that both places are equally safe for you. This could take the form of a physical reminder like a potted plant or photograph of family, or it could be something more intangible like a certain scent or playing the same background music on your headphones.

  1. Prepare your office wardrobe

    It’s definitely time to air out your office clothes, if you haven’t already. Set aside some time to wash your shirts, iron your pants and lay out your outfits for the week. In addition to saving you some time in the morning, this act of preparing yourself will give you a sense of control over your situation. That, in turn, will help you feel more calm and confident when the actual “work-at-office” day comes along.

  1. Visualise your day

    Another good way to ease worries about going back to the office is to mentally walk through your day. By rehearsing your work routine in your mind, you can pick out what will be different and what will remain the same while also building a feeling of confidence in your ability to handle it. You will also be more prepared to handle new processes that may have been implemented – for example, you may wish to leave earlier so as to have time for temperature screening before you check into your office.

  1. Continue innovative practices

    Did your office get into the habit of “Thoughtful Thursdays” or “virtual hangouts” or “Show your Pets at Work” or anything like that? Experts advise continuing these traditions well after everyone has returned to office to create a sense of continuity and foster employee relations. That is to say, if they were effective at fostering communication and engagement when everyone was apart, there is no reason they shouldn’t do the same when we’re all together!

  1. Communicate with your manager and colleagues

    Managers and your fellow employees will all be struggling during the returning phase, as there as so many new variables involved. Make sure to speak out honestly if you are facing any difficulty, and work together to come up with solutions. Many employees have been saddened by the loss of communal lunch times, for example. To resolve this, management could implement Zoom lunches or mealtimes in shifts.

Ease yourself back to the new office, and do your best work!

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