As lockdown lifts, many of us are returning to the office after spending time WFH. Whether you can’t wait to get back to a normal desk and catch up with colleagues, or dread leaving your home office haven, you’re bound to experience feelings you might not be expecting.
Some call it post lock-down blues–mixed emotions, some rational and some irrational. You may feel confused, lost, nervous, anxious or fearful. You might be raring to go or not totally ready. One thing is for sure—transitioning back to ‘normal’ work life after WFH might not be super smooth.
Here are tips for adjusting as positively as possible.
Your feelings are OK
Don’t beat yourself up or suppress your feelings. Accept that they’re valid. Remember that you’re not the only one who is feeling confused. Talk to colleagues, your boss or even family and friends. Having a conversation will release some of your anxiety.
Get back in the groove
Dig deep and think about your work routine before lockdown. If was productive and comfortable, replicate it asap. This will help you feel at ease.
You may get frustrated more easily at work, with yourself, your colleagues, manager or deadlines. Your frustration may relate to simple things you miss like being able to swing your windows wide open or enjoying work life in tracky dacks. Be patient and remind yourself that this is a transition, not a forever state. Also, be patient with others who may be suffering more than you are.
Switch things up
As much as it’s good to get back into a routine, transitioning is an opportunity to switch things up with the positive habits you developed during lock down. That could include taking regular breaks, having lunch away from your desk, enjoying a stroll in the fresh air. Schedule these positive habits into your day so you don’t miss them.
Work hard on balance
It takes energy to transition. Aim to achieve work-life balance as soon as you return so you’re not exhausted at the end of Week 1. Clock off at a reasonable time and avoid after-hours work. This is time to recalibrate. It’s time to set new boundaries.
Assess what you love and don’t love
Think about what you love and don’t love about your job and workplace. Focus on the positives and tackle what you dread. Once you’ve identified the stresses, proactively address them. The pandemic has forced many to rethink life in general, as well as careers. Talk to your boss and explain your ideas. Ask if you can work together on making change happen. Be realistic, however. Don’t present a mega list. Discuss one or two practical ideas at a time.
Stock up on patience and be flexible
You may find transitioning somewhat calm or you may find you want to tear your hair out. Perhaps you’re emotions are all over the map. Whatever the case, be kind to yourself and others. Remember that flexibility and adaptability are great assets, for leaders and employees.
Monitor your feelings
If negative feelings persist, don’t hide them. Seek help so matters don’t spiral out of control. Be honest with your boss and brainstorm ways your workplace can provide support. HR might be able to help or an Employee Assistant Program. You may even find, if your niggling feelings just won’t leave, that you need professional support. Lots of people do. We’re dealing with an unfamiliar, nasty and long-lasting pandemic after all.
If your negative feelings relate to your workplace and job, and not the transition, it might be time to look for other career opportunities. Here are some steps to take and reading that might inspire you.
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