In the last few months, COVID-19 certainly played a big role in dramatically changing our social and work lives. This pandemic changed many aspects of what we consider “normal way of doing things”. One of these changes which many of us have experienced since March 2020, is working from home (WFH). Another is the art of ordering groceries online! Now, as the world slowly moves away from extended lockdowns and slowly re-opens workplaces and stores, another new “normal” will have to be practiced by most of us. This is because while we have managed to curb the spread of the virus through the adoption of a series of preventive measures, COVID-19 has not gone away and continues to be a threat unless managed properly. The World Health Organization (WHO) and local governments have made many recommendations and provided guidelines which must be followed by not only employees and employers, but also every person in the world.
As one of the first things happening on easing of lockdowns is people returning to work, there are likely to be challenges that we must face. For instance, in many countries, schools are still closed, which means children must remain at home. Also, with the advice given to people with pre-existing illnesses and the elderly to take extra care, there remains the worry and stress of managing dependents at home. Another challenge that most employees are likely to face is going back to the office routine after several months of remote and flexible work hours, getting up late, and dressing down.
So, here are some tips that may come in handy to manage these challenges while preparing to return to work again!
Over the last few months, we have learnt new routines for maintaining social distancing and general hygiene. So, even as you return to work, continue these practices. Wear facemasks, avoid touching your face, keep a distance from people, stay at home if you feel unwell, avoid physical contact with other people, wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds, and disinfect your office workspaces. Some of these will also be part of the new rules which your employer mandate must be followed. So, do so diligently to ensure your personal safety.
When returning to work during this Covid-19 pandemic, accept that there are going to be changes in the way your workplace looks and operates. For instance, social distancing rules, temperature checks, wearing facemasks, and other similar methods to safeguard the health and wellness of employees will become the “new norm”. From an operations perspective, it is likely that meetings may continue to be online, distances or barriers are placed between workstations, and there are new rules to follow when interacting with customers. So be ready to accept and embrace these changes. Do not consider them a hindrance or too ludicrous. Remember, by following these rules at the office, you are ensuring the safety of not only yourself but also your colleagues and your family.
The last few lockdown months has resulted in most people’s work routines being disrupted due to changes in how we have adapted to working from home while managing the home front and changes to the routines of all family members. Most people’s usual morning routines would likely have been disrupted, and with the return to the workplace, there is now a need to go back to this routine. However, as not everything is back to normal, you may need to consider making a new routine accounting for changed circumstances to yourself and your family.
An example would be to make necessary arrangements for children who have yet not returned to school such as preparing their lunches, or ensuring they have everything they need to continue with their online classes. In addition, you will also have to prepare your own lunch and make an effort to get back to wearing office attire.
Stress has become so much a part of our lives, and more so, in the last few lockdown months. As you return to work, managing stress will remain important as you will likely be battling challenges such as children at home and even a spouse who continues to work from home, or one who has lost their job. You may also face challenges transitioning from working from home to working in the office.
To overcome this, try to keep track of what causes stress, and consider how best to manage these situations. Talk to your supervisor if you feel you need to reduce the hours spent at your workplace because you have additional home-based responsibilities due to the prevailing situation. Eating healthy, exercising, taking a break, talking about issues and problems with family and friends, and keeping a balance and distance between work and personal lives will help too. Always remember that you are not alone in this, and share your problems with someone if you think it will help.
Consuming healthy and nutritious foods is important as this will help boost and keep your immune system healthy. Keeping healthy is an important part of safeguarding yourself from contracting illnesses, and this applies to COVID-19 as well. If you have the time, why not pack your own lunch for work? This way, you could prepare a more nutritional meal for yourself.
It is important to be aware of changes to the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and its community spread. We also have seen various changes in the government and WHO recommendations since the start of this crisis. So, ensure you remain vigilant and are aware of changes that can lead to either a positive or negative impact on how we all continue to work and live in this new normal environment.
As we are more well-informed of developments with the pandemic, it would help us in understanding certain new measures and guidelines adopted in the workplace. The most important thing is to follow these new guidelines well in order to ensure our safety during this Covid-19 era.
There you have it, 8 tips for returning to work during the Covid-19 pandemic. As countries all over the world are starting to ease restrictions, some of us may be able to return to work once again. We hope that with these tips, you would be able to better prepare for work during this Covid-19 pandemic. For now, stay safe and healthy!
Sakina has over 10 years of experience in the field of corporate communications; having worked for a leading Annual Report Production House dealing with top corporates of Sri Lanka and overseas, and later as the Group Communications Specialist for a Sri Lankan conglomerate for their overseas plantations business. She is well-versed in the production process of annual reports, sustainability reports, corporate videos and other corporate communication media. She also has experience in Social Media Marketing and works to increase and improve social media presence of corporates and small niche market businesses. Today, she works as a freelance writer and undertakes consultations on corporate communications and social media related projects. She enjoys writing for blogs on topics of interest.