Most of us have been working from home exclusively for nearly five months! As states all over the country begin to reopen, businesses are eager to get their employees back into the office. However, not everyone feels ready to make the transition back to a workspace with other people. Leaving the safety (and comfort) of your own home to go back to working in close proximity with others can cause feelings of anxiety and discomfort, particularly since we are still in the midst of a global health crisis, and the recommendations for precautions continue to shift.
In addition to abiding by the health and safety guidelines laid out by the CDC, such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, we want to provide you with some ways to look out for your social and emotional wellbeing as you head back into the office. We’ve compiled some of our favorite advice, along with strategies from some of the featured speakers from Careerstone’s weekly Mastering the Virtual Workplace webinar series, to help you ease into the return to work:
Find out what your organization is doing to create a safe workplace. Responsible companies will provide the resources necessary to make the return to work as safe as possible. Mary-Claire Burick from Rosslyn BID outlined key safety measures from Rosslyn’s reentry program, Rosslyn Ready, to help prepare businesses for reopening. Sign up for Rosslyn Ready to receive these free resources to share with your team!
Let your team know your concerns about returning to work. Be honest if you’re nervous or scared about the transition. Starting this dialogue can help you work with management to mitigate feelings of stress by working together to come up with a plan that makes everyone feel comfortable. This could mean switching to a hybrid work environment that consists of spending a couple of hours at the office on specific days and then teleworking the rest of the time.
Spend time learning about the new rules and expectations for in-person engagements. Will communal spaces like the kitchen and conference room be in use? Are there new scheduled working hours? Be sure you’re aware of any changes before heading back to the office so you can respect the new protocols. This could also include brushing up on your virtual facilitation and participation skills as meetings move into a hybrid format.
Coping with change is hard. Our guest speakers Robyn Fehrman, Jennifer Arnold, and Robin Josephtalked about the importance of integrating self-care practices into your daily life to help our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. The transition back to working in an office can take a toll on many aspects of our lives – arrangements for family members, readjusting to the commute, financial costs associated with working outside the home (including freshening up your in-office wardrobe!), and the social and emotional demands of re-engaging with a widening circle of people. Be sure to carve out time during your workday (even when you’re back in the office!) to take breaks, meditate, exercise, or do whatever else helps you alleviate stress and recharge.
This is a complicated issue as employment law is often a patchwork of regulations that vary by industry and jurisdiction. Take time to learn your options if you are not ready to return to the workplace.
Remember to always wash your hands, wear a mask, maintain six feet of distance, and keep your hands off of your face. If you’re struggling to remember these key safety habits, there’s an app for that – download the PerfectCoaches app and use their COVID19 Safety Training!
The truth is that nobody knows how long this pandemic will last or how the return to work will impact contagion rates. So please, continue to practice low-risk activities as much as possible outside of the workplace. You don’t want to be the person who infects your entire office!
The prospect of returning to work can be overwhelming and new office protocols will take some getting used to, but we will all be making the transition back to working with others eventually. Engaging with your team, following safety protocols, and being mindful of your feelings will help make this transition much smoother!