Many people have spent two to three months either working from home or off work completely, and the thought of heading back into the daily grind in a still-pandemic-stricken world has them naturally a bit nervous.
We’re living in a new world now, with no idea when (or if) things will ever be quite the same again, and everything has changed in a short few months (or long few months if you’re one of the many who feels like they’re living in Groundhog Day). Workplaces will not be the same again for a while, if ever. If your job requires a commute and physical time in the workplace, it’s time to prepare yourself mentally for the days ahead.
Start Getting Back into Your Usual Routine
One of the best ways to mentally prepare for anything is to get in the mind-set. In this case, that means getting up and getting ready for work even if you’re not heading back to the office quite yet. Get up, shower, shave, have breakfast, listen to some music or an audiobook during what would be your commute to work, then spend the hours you’d be at work doing something productive. (Be sure to avoid those naps you’ve been getting used to doing the stay-at-home orders.)
The idea is to get both your mind and body back on your usual schedule, so that you can transition back into the workplace with more ease and less exhaustion. Now is the perfect time to round up the last of those household projects you started while you were staying home from work. Wear your mask while you finish those projects, so you get used to having one on for longer periods of time.
You want to begin your day as though it’s a typical workday and end it just the same. Take lunch at the same time you’d go for lunch at work. Don’t snack throughout the day (if that’s something you’ve grown accustomed to while being home more). Give yourself at least a few days (up to a week if you have the time) before you’re back on the clock, to practice your routine and make it muscle memory again.
Get Prepared for Your New Workday
Social distancing and mask-wearing are things that aren’t going away any time soon, probably not until there’s a vaccine available for the coronavirus. This means that you’ll be spending your workdays a bit differently than usual—of course, that depends on your job. If you stay hidden in a cubicle, you’ll probably be able to remove your mask while you’re at your desk, but you’ll still need one for when you leave your safe space.
Even if you’re separate from other employees while you’re on your shift, if you work in a call center where someone else uses your cubicle on a different shift, you’ll need to get more focused on cleaning your space before and after your shift.
And then, there’s break time and lunchtime. Be sure to find out what your company is doing to keep you safe on breaks. Some things they might be doing could include allowing you to eat at your desk, opening up outdoor seating, or setting up the breakroom in a socially distanced manner. (Don’t forget to put your mask on before and after your breaks.)
Know Your Risks
Because there is still a risk of contracting the coronavirus, you might still be afraid of going back to work and spending time around coworkers and customers. The best thing to do is to remind yourself that there are precautions you can take to lessen your risk.
While it feels like information is constantly changing, wearing a mask and washing your hands often (or using hand sanitizer when a sink and soap aren’t readily available) are a couple of the best ways to avoid getting and spreading this virus.
Continue to avoid close contact with people when you can, even with a mask on your face. Don’t shake hands; there are plenty of other greeting options.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to express your concerns with your place of employment. There may be additional precautions they can put into place to make high-risk employees safer and help everyone ease their anxiety about going back to work post-pandemic.