Managing your Return to Work: Has Coronavirus Impacted Our Ability to Be Social?

Many of us have spent months, if not close to two years, working from home and only communicating with colleagues virtually. We’ve become used to social distancing, working alone and keeping our contact to an absolute minimum. As many businesses are phasing employees back into the office, it’s understandable if you’re worried about your ability to work as you did before. It’s not uncommon to worry if you even know how to talk to people properly any more and while it may seem like getting back into the swing of things will take some time, there are things you can do to minimise stress and adapt to life back in the office.

Tips for Successfully Returning to the Office

Returning to a busy workplace can seem stressful after months of being at home alone, for the sake of our health and safety. The familiar “return to work” dread will be stronger than ever before but it’s important to get back to normal at pace that works for you. Keep these tips in mind for returning to work:

  • Share your thoughts – if you’re feeling stressed and anxious about your return to work, raise this with your manager or mental health first aider in the office. They should be able to provide you with help and support.
  • Have a routine – putting a routine in place for each morning can help you follow a schedule and get used to the norm of getting back to the office. It’s also important to get enough sleep so this doesn’t impact your stress levels.
  • Make time for breaks – your working day will have breaks built in, so make the most of them. Getting outside can be good for minimising stress or simply getting away from your desk with a cuppa once or twice a day.
  • Take your best practices into the office – there will be things you’ve learned while working from home which could improve your experience in the office. Make a list of the practices that have increased your productivity and bring these into the office, so you have a sense of normality.

Tips for Handling the Social Side of the Workplace

You don’t have to throw yourself into being everyone’s best friend and after long periods working alone it can be hard to get back into the day-to-day chatter and noise of the office. You can pick and choose who you spend your time with and can still opt to have time alone at breaks and lunch time.

To help get things back to normal it may be worth considering a team lunch or some time out together work to get back on track and help build team spirit and get you all back on track and up to date with each other’s lives. If you’re worried about saying the wrong thing then keep conversation light, steer away from political issues and anything COVID-19 or vaccine related, and it should be plain sailing.

Your workplace used to be somewhere you turned up everyday and got the job done and it can be again. You just need to navigate your own nerves and get used to the day-to-day normality of a busy work environment.