Returning to work

Returning to Work, All You Need To Know

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a scary time for many people and has certainly left its mark on society. The world has changed and it is highly likely that if you have not retired to work yet or are still working from home without resuming your normal role at premises you may be preparing to do so in the near future.

This can be an unnerving time with lots of administration alterations, physical adaptations, and policy changes for employers and employees alike. This will naturally vary depending on the sector or industry you work in and the nature of your role within that institution, but to prepare us mentally for what is to come it is reasonable to assume you may want to address the following areas;

What’s Changed In The Workplace?

At present we do not know if we’ll ever be able to work the same again. Your employer will have had strict guidance over covid re-opening procedures and how best to set up the workplace before anyone returns. A general overview of expected changes would include some of but would not be limited to the following;

  • Face-coverings
  • Seating arrangements
  • Meetings (in person or online)
  • Access routes and one-way systems
  • Cleanliness and hygiene
  • Operations in general
  • Health screenings
  • Remote working
  • Breaks
  • Staff-rooms
  • Public areas
  • Smoking areas
  • Handwashing
  • Sterilizing
  • Wiping down equipment and seats
  • Corporate events
  • Handshakes and hugs as greetings
  • Isolation periods
  • General return to work procedures
  • Sickness notification (covid-related)
  • Increased ventilation

What To Expect?

In a business where most of the above is applicable then it would be sensible to expect an induction on new procedures and anything that has been altered during this time period. It could feel like being a new employee all over again where you will have a lot of information thrown at you and be expected to get up to speed pretty quickly. At the same time, all your colleagues will have been in the same situation at some point if there has been a staggered return and will be going through it with you if you all come back together.

You should expect to have your previous routine and work area disrupted and altered and be open to what is presented to you. Try to remember this is all being done out of necessity not to cause any upheaval. There is a good chance you will have a return to work interview with either your line manager or an appointed person from HR. This could be part of regular meetings and discussions to monitor people’s mental health.

Plan For It

Hopefully, you will have had plenty of notice and lots of time to prepare yourself for the big return. If so, you can plan it all out carefully so you are as comfortable as possible on the day. You could even arrange a visit beforehand if you are particularly nervous or apprehensive about anything. Don’t be afraid to ask questions even if they have already been covered or you think they may be perceived as ‘silly’ or ‘stupid’. Nothing is obvious nor should be taken for granted in these unprecedented times.

If you want or need clarity on anything no matter how insignificant it may seem, ask. Your employer should have shared the company Covid-19 policy with you and discussed any relevant risk assessments that are directly linked to your specific role. If this has not happened during your first day back or at least been scheduled you should raise it with your line manager immediately. If anything does not feel right or you are uncomfortable upon your return then you should consider completing a working from home request where you can continue remotely until a mutually appropriate time is agreed upon.

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