Our working lives were changed enormously when lock down started. As lock
down eases, our working lives will change again.
For many of us coming out of lock down is not a choice. Across the country people are being called to return to work, even when the official advice is to work from home wherever possible. Sometime this won’t be possible and the prospect of return carries with it a need to weigh up the potential safety risks to ourselves and family, with the need to earn money, restart the economy or provide service to others.
We may have a lot of mixed feelings about coming back to work – it may be exciting and something we’ve wished for or we may be angry that we are being forced back too fast. We may be worried about public transport and social distancing on the job. We may be or angry or frustrated with our employers, or at the guidelines available from government for our industry. It may be that the circumstances of our work cause us anxiety or frustration– especially if other people’s choices or behaviours increases our risk of catching the virus.
If you are on furlough, you may have found ways to occupy your time – with family commitments, volunteering, hobbies or by learning new skills. Reconnecting with work might take time, and hopefully you will have time to plan when you are likely back, or even have the opportunity to return gradually.
It’s worth approaching a return to work like a return from any long absence – gradually picking up routines and setting down the things you’ve been doing during lock down.
Try and find out what support is available to you through your work, and use things like employee assistance services. If you are a manager, take time to check in with your teams and be aware of the mental health challenges on returning. If you aren’t back in the workplace quite yet, you could think about ways you might be able to reconnect with colleagues within the rules – socially distanced walks or meet-ups are good ways to start thinking about work again.
As with any period of intense and unrelieved stress, when the stress is lifted, there is sometimes an impact on physical or mental health. It’s possible that as lock down eases, you may realize how hard it has been and you may get unwell, or low.
If you’ve been going to work as normal throughout lock down, things might not seem to change much to start with – but as traffic increases, and more people are going about their lives the pressures on key workers of all sorts will increase, but the demands may not fall. As we move forward, we have to recognize the burdens borne by key workers across the economy and ensure that key workers from Medical staff to delivery drivers are able to recover and process trauma and the impacts of intense work.
Tips for home and remote working IT and technology For many of us IT and technology will be a lifeline during a period when our working patterns will change. However, for some of us, the move to spending a lot of our working time online may take some adjusting to, especially if we find technology difficult or overwhelming. Here are some things you can do to help you adjust:
A structured day can be a good way to address this:
Keep up the formal and social flow of work It's really important that structured and unstructured connections with work and colleagues carry on whilst people are working remotely or flexibly:
Use the support that's available This is a challenging time for all of us – and whether we are at work or not many employers provide support.
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