Unless you’re an essential worker, your work life has probably changed drastically in recent months. Whether you’ve been laid off, fired, are on furlough, or are working at home, it’s likely that the way you earn your living has at least been altered, if not brought to a screeching halt.
Now, with many cities either starting to reopen or planning to do so soon, you may be gearing up to return to the workplace. But because things have changed so much, you might be anxious or even reluctant to go back.
If you’re facing the prospect of returning to the office and you’re not sure what to expect, here’s a list of ideas to help you make a seamless transition.
One of the best things you can do to help ease your way back is to re-establish your relationships. If you’ve been removed from your normal work setting for an extended period, you may need to touch base with co-workers to find out what they’re up to. Chances are, they share your concerns about returning to work, and they may have helpful ideas for the weeks ahead.
Creating and maintaining positive work relationships a great way to make your workday more pleasant, and it also can ease your transition back into a traditional work setting. By inviting your co-workers to lunch, giving them a call, or making any other kind gesture, you’ll be able to rebuild these relationships quickly.
You also may have lost touch with your clients. If you have, be sure to reach out via phone or email. You can even send them special discount codes, branded gifts, or other reminders that you and your company value them.
Discuss Safety Precautions
To reduce anxiety about returning to work, take time out to discuss safety precautions with your co-workers and managers.
First of all, find out how personal protective equipment (PPE) is being handled. Regardless of your line of business, your employer is responsible for providing safety supplies such as face masks, soap, and hand sanitizer. You may also consider asking how often the office is being cleaned, and how frequently the bathrooms are being sanitized.
Your employer might want to consult guidelines established by the porta-potty industry for restroom-to-staff ratios and cleaning/sanitizing schedules. These companies know what they’re doing since their bread and butter depend on the distribution of restroom traffic and maximizing cleanliness for large crowds. Tapping into that knowledge could help your company keep everyone safe in the long run.
Be Prepared for Unexpected Changes
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that things can change drastically and instantaneously. So consider that your desk location, job duties, company rules, and other familiar aspects of your job may have been altered in your absence.
Some changes will have been made for safety reasons; others may have come in response to financial challenges your company is facing. The best thing you can do is become more flexible, and be prepared to face these changes head-on.
Return to the workplace with a positive attitude and an understanding that things now may be weird or awkward, but you’ll get used to them in the long run. And who knows? Shifting job duties may open up a new career path you hadn’t considered.
Secure Your Home
As you move back into the workplace, you’ll want to protect your household and related finances. In the current environment, it’s easy to worry about money and unexpected expenses, and it makes sense to plan for the worst.
Take some time to assess your mortgage or rental agreement, your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance, and your utility bills. Having a handle on these aspects of your financial life can help you devise a budget that fits your current situation.
Also consider looking into a home warranty (which differs from homeowners’ insurance). With this coverage, you can rest assured that major repairs, such as those to your HVAC or electrical system and major appliances, are covered. This can reduce your financial anxiety and make it easier to focus on work.
Update Your Skill Set
Lastly, you definitely want to take the time to update your skill set. No matter what industry or sector you work in, you should always take every opportunity to polish up your skills as much as possible. Not only will this make you a more valued employee, but it can also put you in a better position to compete with others returning to a deeply competitive job market.
Consider learning a new language, training to gain new technical skills, learning to drive heavy equipment like a stick-shift vehicle or forklift, or anything else that might make you a more valuable employee. As you acquire more skills, your confidence will grow, and so will your ability to climb the corporate ladder.
No matter how you feel about returning to the workplace, you should be prepared to deal with a work setting that’s much different than the one you remember. By heeding these tips, you’ll be well on your way to returning to your position, however it looks now, without anxiety and fear.
By Jessica Larson, SolopreneurJournal.com