When Account Manager, Jo Lindsey started 2020 she didn’t foresee spending weeks of it on furlough from work. After returning to work with a bang, she’s here to share her tips for coming back stronger.
We were all so used to being in that routine of working Monday to Friday, spending 38 hours a week being at the office, looking forward to Friday, enjoying your weekend off before the whole cycle starts again. Then all of a sudden, Covid hits, the government announces their job retention scheme, you get that dreaded ‘furlough’ email and your whole routine is thrown out of the window!
Being on furlough will have forced you to find new routines and new ways to fill that huge void of time and head space that work usually occupies. After the obligatory week or two of doing nothing but catching up with Netflix, watching films and binge eating, you probably got stuck into some of those jobs that we spend ages putting off. You know the sort: decorating, cleaning the oven, sorting out your cupboards - life admin.
After that you probably had the ‘productive’ phase, where we think it’s a good idea to learn a language, start an online course or learn a craft. As the weeks or months pass, you may have started a new routine that didn’t involve work and the days probably started to blend into one. You likely found that you’d gotten used to using your brain less and filling your time in other ways.
As many of us are starting to find as we begin coming off furlough to make our way slowly back into work, the routine you’ve just settled into will have to change again and you have to adapt in many different ways. You might feel anxious and self conscious, happy and excited, or somewhere in between. These are all totally normal, there’s no right way to think or feel about heading back to work.
Don’t forget that the workplace you’re going back to will have changed enormously since you’ve been on furlough, so don’t worry if things don’t feel familiar straight away. Be prepared to adjust slowly to working in your home surroundings or in a socially distanced office. Remember that if you have colleagues that haven’t been furloughed, they’ve already gone through a period where they had to take their time to get into the swing of things. You should give yourself that time too.
But however you’re feeling, the five tips below might help you get back into the swing of working life again:
- Before your first day, write down how you feel about your return to work and think about what will help your transition back into work.
- Arrange a one-to-one with your manager to discuss your return to work, how you’re feeling and what they can do to help you make that transition a smooth one. Find out exactly what you’ll be working on and what’s been going on within the company and what has changed while you’ve been off.
- Try to speak to as many of your colleagues as possible, find out what they’ve been doing, what they’ve been working on, how they’ve been feeling. This will help you feel involved and part of the team again.
- Try to stay realistic about what you can achieve in a day or week, things might take you longer to do than they used too. Be patient with yourself.
- Having a cut-off between working and living is still important. So take regular breaks, don’t feel like you need to be chained to your laptop/phone 24/7.
It might take you a couple of weeks to settle back into work and working life but don’t put too much pressure on yourself, this is a new way of working for everyone. Be patient and keep talking to your manager & work colleagues!