Top Tips for Returning to Work after Furlough

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The last few months have been disconcerting to say the least. The pandemic has caused a lot of confusion and uncertainty about employment, with people having to adjust to different working routines and some unfortunately losing their jobs altogether. Many have questioned: How would their livelihoods be affected? Would they be able to cope mentally and support the people who rely on them?

However, when the furlough scheme was announced a few days after lockdown, a lot of people felt a sense of relief knowing that their jobs were likely to be saved. Businesses were now able to cope with the sudden financial impacts of the lockdown and could therefore preserve the jobs of their employees they had spent a lot of time training and developing, employees were able to spend time with their families, new parents got to spend more time with their babies and people in general got to enjoy an arguably simpler life for a while.

But as things are starting to ease and people are planning on returning to work after many months off, it can be a really overwhelming and daunting feeling. How has the lockdown and the pandemic affected work? Feelings of anxiety over returning to work are entirely normal. Often after just a week off, you get that strange feeling on a Sunday evening when thinking about the working week ahead, and a lot of us are returning to work but not in the usual environment which can be disconcerting on its own.

The recruitment industry has seen mixed outcomes from the pandemic – some have thrived and others have seen the more negative impacts the lockdown has caused. As a recruitment professional who has recently started back at work, here are my 5 simple but effective top tips for returning to work after furlough:

1. Communication with Colleagues:

Communication is key when returning to work! It is likely that you and your colleagues won’t all return to work at the same time so it can feel a bit unsettling if you are the first or the last one back, especially if you are working from home. Modern technology has the power to allow you to communicate so easily with others and you’d be surprised how a quick zoom call with a co-worker can perk up your day. Whilst it isn’t exactly the same as sitting across the office from one another, modern technology makes it easier than ever before to stay connected and is how millions of businesses have managed to keep going throughout this time. It is also important to make sure you are up to date with everything that has been going on in your absence before you return to work, so that you feel more prepared on your start date.

2. Routine and Structure:

Whilst some have described furlough as being a stress-free and easy life, the reality is that many people thrive on routine. In most jobs it is unlikely that you can have a set plan to your day, but having some element of structure can allow for a smoother transition after the furlough period. In order to make the change from furlough less of a bumpy ride, try to get back into the working routine a week or two beforehand. Set your alarm for your usual time, eat a good breakfast and allow yourself to ease back in. This way you won’t feel as shocked on your first day back where it can feel like you have a hundred things to do.

3. Exercise:

A lot of people used furlough as a way to either get fit or start a new sport. With so much free time, it was the ideal opportunity to start working out from home or taking up a different form of exercise. When returning to work, it is so important to fit in some sort of physical exercise to help you feel invigorated and motivated for the day, especially having not worked for so long. Whether that is a home workout in the morning, a brisk lunchtime walk or a relaxing yoga session after a long day, exercise is key in maintaining a successful work-life balance after furlough.

4. Balance:

The last thing you or your employer wants is for you to return to work and try to catch up on 6 months of work in the first week – you’ll just burn out! Make sure that you prioritise your workload effectively, take regular breaks throughout the day and don’t run before you can walk. People are going to be understanding about your situation as it applies to so many others, so don’t feel the need to speak to everyone and complete every single task in your first day. Just pace yourself and things will fall into place naturally and it’ll be like you were never away!

5. Remain Positive:

Furlough has been a strange and unsettling time for most of us, but remaining optimistic and looking at all the positives you have gained from the experience can make returning to work seem less daunting. A lot of us were able to live more simply and focus on things we would usually take for granted and I think it is important to remember this moving forward. Try not to forget about them just as life is starting to become more normal.

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