As restrictions ease and things start to go back to normal, we have to face a new challenge. How do we return to work and our normal day-to-day routine safely?

Returning to pre-COVID life is good news for smaller businesses that have been hit hardest by COVID-19. Businesses re-opening is also good for people who were laid off.

So if you are fortunate enough to be returning to the workplace, here are some tips and guidelines to help you transition back safely.

Is it REALLY safe to go back?

Safety should be your workplace’s number one priority for staff and customers. Whether you work in an office, retail store or café, your workplace should have a safety plan. It should outline rules to follow to ensure everyone stays safe and healthy. While it will be a bit different for every industry, a good safety plan should cover things like:

  • maintaining good hygiene and cleaning
  • social distancing rules
  • staff wellbeing
  • special allowances for vulnerable people  

Ask your employer about the plans they have put in place. Knowing your workplace has a plan will ease your stress about returning to work.

Staggering people’s return to work

Slowly transitioning back to work is key to keep everyone safe. In your workplace, your employer might have implemented some new process like a rostering schedule. 

Some workplaces are staggering their staff being in the workplace, or being flexible with start and finishing times.

My work has put in place a rostering schedule, meaning we switch up the number of days we are in the office.

At the moment it’s a minimum of one day a week, but it’s constantly being reviewed and adjusted. This is to ensure there isn’t a large number of people in the office at one time.

It’s a good idea to have a chat with your employer about flexible working arrangements like rostering schedules and changing up your patterns at work.

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two co-worker high fiving virtual

Get out of my bubble

When someone stands too close to me I think, can I help you? Please respect the social distancing rules and… keep your distance. 

I can’t tell you how many times I have unwillingly played chicken with a random walking straight towards me…ooooow who’s going to move out of the way first. Then, of course, you have those people who I think enjoy brushing past you on purpose. Don’t be that person, just follow the social distancing rules. There in place for a reason. TO. KEEP. YOU. SAFE! 

Social distancing rules are pretty obvious in places like cafes. They can only have a set amount of people in at a time, and tables need to be spaced out.

In our office, the rostering system makes sure every second desk is empty. Only four people are allowed in the lift at a time. It can take a while to get in and out of the building, but I’m glad these rules are in place.  

Before you return to work, check with your employer about the social distancing guidelines in place and FOLLOW them. 

Less chat, more emails

Did you know the louder you speak the more liquid droplets are sprayed from your mouth and into the air? These particles can carry germs and bacteria and viruses…OH MY!

We’ve pretty much proven that we can work remotely without the wheels falling off. Even though we are transitioning back into the workplace, let’s not be so quick to abandon the tools that have helped us connect and stay productive. Ask yourself, do I need to speak face-to-face with my colleagues, or can I communicate with them in another way?

  • Can I email them about this?
  • Can I conference call my team, or set up a video conference so I can see their beautiful faces?
  • If we need to meet, are we respecting the social distancing rules?
  • Should this meeting be an email?

Stay home if you’re sick

Did you know cases of influenza in April dropped by 99% compared to last year’s season? Good hygiene, social distancing and staying at home when your sick has reduced the spread of these diseases. And we must continue to stick to these rules.

I know you think you might feel fine to return to work and it’s admirable to want to get the job done. But, do us all a favour. If you’re sick, stay home. 

Why? 

Because we have to slow the spread. One person can infect many others in the workplace. Even if you have mild symptoms, it’s best to stay home to protect yourself and everyone else around you.  

I can’t tell you how many times a co-worker has come in sick, blowing their nose and coughing up a lung, only to tell me they’re fine. And of course, a week later I end up with whatever they had.

If you have access to leave, then take it. If you don’t, speak with your employer about your options. If you have to self-isolate because of coronavirus you have pay and leave options.

As I write this, I have mild symptoms of the flu and it’s my turn to work in the office tomorrow. But I had a chat with my bosses, and they told me to stay home and work. So that’s what I’ll be doing.

And FYI I don’t have access to sick leave or anything fancy like that. Contractor life, yo. But I’m super grateful to have bosses that are willing to work with me and look into other options. So, I encourage you to do the same and have a chat with your employer about your options.

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Piture of Sheldon, his mouth is covered and in his hand is a spray can. The text in the image reads " Its flu season stay out of my bubble"

Final thought

It can be overwhelming and challenging to adjust back into the workplace, and you might be scared.

Remember these key points: 

  • Talk with your employer about returning to work and what plans your employer has in place to keep you safe.
  • If you’re feeling stressed out or overwhelmed by it all there is support available.
  • Stick to the social distancing guidelines.
  • Talk to your employers about your concerns.
  • Stay at home if you’re sick.

Images: reddit, Giphy