The world is now evolving at a rapid speed and…
For many workers, the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically shifted the way they approached their jobs. With a significant number of them being provided with the option to work remotely, it signaled a marked change from the typical 9-to-5 office grind. However, while quite a few employees were granted the ability to work from home, many more found themselves suddenly without gainful employment. Conservative estimates indicate that greater than 21 million people lost their jobs during this time, a number which has undoubtedly had a severe impact on our local economies.
Fortunately, if you’re one of the millions of people who have now found themselves on the receiving end of a job offer in this pro-employee market, it’s perfectly reasonable to be feeling a combination of both excitement and trepidation as you prepare for your first day — especially if your new employer wants you to work on-site. Even though cities around the country are finally opening up, there are still many social restrictions in place. Understandably, you may be wondering what your next steps should be. To help make this transition go more smoothly, it’s important to keep these four things in mind.
If you’re like most people, you probably spent the past year or so working from the comfort of your home office, only switching from your pajamas to work-appropriate attire when it was time for a video meeting. Or, conversely, you may have passed the time submitting job applications and frequently checking your email in the hopes of hearing back from a prospective employer. Regardless, the fact remains: you’ve likely fallen out of an established routine, and your once-structured schedule is now more organic and possibly even somewhat chaotic.
Rather than waiting until the first day of your new job, now is the time to start preparing yourself for your return to the workforce. Start building new habits today, such as getting into a nighttime routine to help you unwind for bed, and setting your alarm to wake up at a reasonable hour in the morning. Instead of letting your day pass by at a leisurely pace, with you breaking for meals at your convenience and snacking idly at your desk, plan a designated time in your day for a real lunch break. By instilling these good habits now, the transition back to work can go much more smoothly.
If you’ve been working from home, the idea of returning to an on-site office can seem initially unpleasant. After months of being at home, suddenly being around people again might feel daunting. While it’s normal to feel hesitant about returning to work, don’t let this deter you from pursuing employment there. Instead, think about the positives, such as the opportunity to make new friends (or see old ones again!) and how your new routine can help boost your overall wellbeing and productivity. In turn, you may find yourself trading that anxiety for excitement as your first day approaches.
With so much recent focus on avoiding sickness, most of us are quite familiar with the concept of staying healthy these days. That said, “health” has many facets, and there’s no one, singular approach to it. A multi-pronged approach to staying well is essential to ensure your return to work is both pleasant and safe. In addition to getting vaccinated, you should also consider your diet and lifestyle. For many, eating right and exercising fell by the wayside, but slowly introducing gentle fitness (such as walking or yoga) and a balanced diet can help strengthen your immune system.
Your mental health is also important, too. Depression and anxiety surged during the pandemic, and if not addressed, these feelings can easily spill over into your new career. The value of employee mental health cannot be overstated, especially during these confusing and unpredictable times. If you find yourself facing mounting stress after you start working, you may want to speak to your employer to determine if they offer mental health services. Or, if you prefer to seek help outside of the workplace, reaching out to a trusted friend or even a therapist can be incredibly beneficial.
The return to the office may feel like a type of culture shock, especially following a long stretch of remote work or unemployment. If you’ve grown accustomed to the privacy of your home, suddenly being surrounded by people can seem jarring. The new noises, sounds, and smells can be distracting, and you may find your productivity dropping. Rather than letting these diversions affect your focus, gently speak to either your new coworkers or your manager about these concerns. They’ll likely understand, and even something like noise-canceling headphones or earplugs can help keep you on task.
Ultimately, now is the time to be compassionate with yourself and give yourself some leverage. Even if you find yourself initially struggling with the dynamics of your job, you may find that as the days pass, it gradually becomes easier. No matter what industry you work in — whether you’re a healthcare employee or you’re certified to work in information technology — the coming months can unquestionably be fraught with uncertainty. By taking the time to ease yourself into this transition, you may find that not only do you love your new career, but you’re also much happier and healthier there, too.