The upheaval of lockdown is likely to have had a negative effect on many people’s mental health, and for those, this could make a simple thing like returning to work a scary prospect.
With the possibility of Covid-19 spiking again as restrictions are eased, employees may feel fearful about being around more people than they are now used to. Also, employees that are returning to work from furlough may feel ‘out of the loop’ and nervous about jumping straight back in to their jobs.
It’s important that businesses recognise these anxieties, but it is also important that the employees themselves recognise the need for integrating slowly back into work, so as not to feel overwhelmed.
If you have gone a prolonged period of time without regular contact with colleagues this could make you feel anxious about social interaction. Upon your return to work, make sure you are in regular contact with your colleagues and line manager. This will ensure you feel more familiar and comfortable with the people around you.
Ensure that you have regular catch-ups with your line manager before you return. Make sure you raise any concerns or questions you have about the environment and identify your work priorities. Also, requesting to go into the office for a couple of hours the week before you start may help you ease into the office environment more calmly.
If you are worried about your first day back make sure you are prepared for any changes that may have occurred within the business and in the office, this way nothing will surprise you and make you feel more stressed. Think about how you will get to work, will you need to use public transport? Will anything be different when you enter the building? Will you need your own Personal Protective Equipment? How many people will be in the office? Will you need to do anything differently to get your job done? Has your employer followed the correct safety procedures regarding Covid-19? These are all questions you should ask yourself or your line manager to ensure you feel comfortable on your return to work.
Ask yourself how your mental health is and do you have any worries that you need to address. If you are feeling overwhelmed returning to work or you feel you are not performing as well as you have previously, set up a meeting with your line manager so you can air your concerns and hopefully find a solution.
Everyone will be dealing with the situation in their own way but it is unlikely that you’ll be the only one in your company feeling anxious. A good employer will understand this is a difficult and unprecedented situation and will likely do as much as they can to ensure you are comfortable and happy in your work, wherever that may be.