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As we start to ease out of lockdown, many of us will be looking forward to getting back to ‘normal’ – with shops opening, some children back at school and some of us looking to go back to the office. The reality is that normal in a COVID-19 world is very different to how life used to be, and we are likely to also be very different people after spending the best part of three months at home. It’s important to recognise that we may not bounce back to the way we were right away, we may have new anxieties and worries about how to navigate the new world we are living in, and we will no doubt be facing many challenges on a practical and emotional level.
Don’t rush into any decisionsEven if your office has reopened, and they’ve called to tell you can come back, don’t make any decisions straight away. You need to really think about what’s best for you and your situation, everyone is different. Be confident to share your feelings about returning with your line manager or HR.
Get all the informationResponsible employers will have completed risk assessment and worked out a strategy for who they will invite back, how often and how they will ensure social distancing. If they have not shared the detail with you already, ask for the information. Before you decide if you will return you need to know what health and safety measures they have put in place, and what your responsibility is to your colleagues in terms of your health and behaviour.
Make a planOnce you’ve made your decision make a plan. Which days will you go into the office? How will you safely get in and out of work? Is transport running as normal in your area? Do you need to buy a mask? Do you need to allow extra time for your journey? What will your childcare arrangements be?
Ease in gentlyAs with most situations, it’s better not to run before you can walk. After three months of lockdown many of us simply aren’t used to seeing lots of people and travelling far from our home, we might not have had to practice social distancing yet, let alone for a whole working day. It is likely we will have difficulty initially adjusting and be very tired for the first few days as our brain processes everything. You may also feel anxiety about the change so take it at your own pace.
Recognise it may be difficultIt’s likely that going back to the office will not be without hiccups along the way. We’ve been living in our own separate bubbles for weeks and in the outside world we’ll be in closer contact with other people outside our immediate family. Recognise that best laid plans often have setbacks, so keep an eye on how you are feeling, how you are coping and be kind to yourself.
Look after yourselfMany of us have got into good habits in lockdown and are managing to sleep better, eating right and getting exercise. Try not to let these healthy habits slide once you’re back in an office environment, as they help to keep us mentally and physically well.
Talk about how you are feelingBeing able to share how you are feeling about returning to work is vital. Just talking to someone about your worries, a colleague, a friend, LawCare, can help you process your emotions and feel calmer and less stressed.
LawCare provides emotional support to all legal professionals, support staff and their families. You can call our confidential helpline on 0800 279 6888, email us at email@example.com or access webchat and other resources at www.lawcare.org.uk
Excellent resources on going back to work are available on the ACAS website
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