Is it time for you to return to work?

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Whether work breaks are planned or unplanned returning to the workforce after an extended period away can be challenging and whilst the majority of us can’t wait for things to return to normal, for infection rates to plateau and for our business economy to be boosted and active, for some the reality of returning to work may fill them with dread for various reasons.

We all look forward to our annual leave and often feel less than enthusiastic about returning to work after a two week holiday in the sun, however for some, having such a long time off work could make them feel overwhelmed and saddened about the thought of returning to the workplace.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help determine what your worries are and how to potentially overcome them:

  • For some, the time away has been a much-needed respite and an opportunity for quality time with family, and for those the dread of returning to work is simply because, relatively speaking, it feels less rewarding than their home life.
    This is more normal than what you might think, after spending weeks on end indulging in family time it can be easy to fall into a slump, who wouldn’t want to be in a safe home with the people they love, having homemade food, playing games, and movie marathons etc., how are we going to find time for a full work schedule?.  See it as a positive that work is not the be all and end all, however it is needed to maintain lifestyles and financial stability.  Continue to find the time for the things that are most important, cook home cooked meals and take them to work for lunch, meal plan for the week and set time aside for family time.  Hopefully working will be able to finance trips and family holidays where precious time with the family can be spent again.
  • Are you worried about safety measures in the workplace and if you can be sure that current guidelines are adhered to?
    If this is the case, the first point of call will be to your direct manager, ask for any risk assessments and ask how they have demonstrated that they have done everything necessary to ensure a Covid secure workplace.
  • How Long Did It Take to Stop Thinking About Work During the Break?One of the most tell-tale signs of work stress is how long it takes to stop thinking about work once were on a break.  For most of us it will take a couple of days to relax and unwind from work, however if you spend the majority of your time off going back over work activities or can’t stop checking your emails then it might be time for a change.
  • Is something that makes you feel positive missing from your workday, do you feel that it is not challenging or meaningful, enough?
    It this is the case then your company and industry might be good but your role not so much, identify what it is you want to achieve, what you enjoy doing and what you don’t, speak to your employer about future opportunities and what it is you need to do to obtain those opportunities.
  • Is there something highly negative in your workplace? Do you not want to return because there is something that is upsetting you whilst there, such as conflict, pressure, or ethical issues?
    Does your company have a Human Resources contact that you can talk to? Can you speak to your manager about resolving issues and identify solutions to these problems? Maybe this is a good time to explore other career opportunities.
  • Are you worried about childcare until children return to school?There’s a lot of us in this situation, how do we balance the both?, speak to your employer about a phased return to work, your employer will need to continue giving consideration in how they can support you in this situation.
    Are you able to form a support bubble with another household for help?, read the guidance on Support Bubbles here..
    www.gov.uk/guidance/meeting-people-from-outside-your-household

Whatever your concerns may be and with any time away from the workplace, your confidence and routine may have been affected, keep in mind that any one of these signs is not necessarily cause for concern. We all will have worries and concerns with the current climate, it is important to think about the positives of work, the financial rewards, the contribution that you’re making to building the economy back (regardless of how small, it all helps) and the social element of work, albeit socially distanced, it still may be a good opportunity to interact with other adults.

Here are a few general tips to help with the transition back to work

  • Return to your work week sleep schedule.
  • Cook homemade foods that can be taken to work for lunch, plan your meals for the week so that its not on your mind during your working day.
  • Stay active, just 20 minutes of low intensity exercise a day will boost productivity and energy levels
  • Set aside family time
  • Talk about your experiences with colleagues, chances are they are feeling the same
  • Assess your job wants & needs
  • Re-learn your industry, identify new training opportunities to support your career and freshen your skills
  • Ensure you take your breaks in full and get away from your desk/workplace
  • Develop a morning routine that you enjoy, whether that be an early morning walk or a healthy breakfast with your favourite cup of coffee.  Do some stretching and energize yourself
  • Make a realistic daily to-do list and a longer-term to-do list with time objectives
  • Reward yourself

Once returning to work and a sense of normality has returned, if at that point that feeling of dread is persistent then it might be time to consider and look for other career opportunities.

For further help, guidance, or resources regarding returning to work refer to:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/help-and-support-for-returning-to-work

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