It’s hard to commit to a nine-to-five when you’ve been out of the office for days, weeks, or even months. There are many reasons someone might need a break from work, be it a personal or family commitment or an illness and more recently Covid-19. But now that you’re back in the saddle and ready to take on your responsibilities once more, here are some tips for making your return easier.
Some people have trouble transitioning back into the office after taking time off. They may feel distracted, confused about what they should be doing and where they should be doing it, and unable to focus on anything. Luckily there are many ways to ease this transition so that you can get back up to speed quickly and feel comfortable in your old workplace again.
Know what you want to accomplish.
When returning to the office, the first thing you want to do is to identify what you hope to get out of your return. For example, perhaps you’re looking for more clarity in your work responsibilities. Maybe you want to start a project that was on hold while you were gone. Whatever it may be, make sure that this is clear in your mind before you head back into the office so that you can make the most of your time there.
One way to ensure this happens is by taking notes or keeping a journal during your break. Keeping a record will help remind you of all the things that need doing and assist with transitioning back in smoothly when it comes time to return.
You should also set some goals for yourself as soon as possible after returning from your hiatus. This is so that you have something tangible to keep pushing towards during those first few days back at work. It’s important not to let these goals slip away once those old routines start getting comfortable again, so don’t forget about them!
Communicate with your boss about your plans.
It’s essential to communicate with your boss about taking time off. You could even make it an annual tradition to give them a heads up each year before you take your break. Doing this will ensure that they know the time you’ll be away and plan accordingly.
Prepare for the transition.
Returning to the office after a hiatus can be hard work, especially if you haven’t been away for very long. The best way to make your transition back into the office as easy as possible is to prepare for it. It would help if you discussed your absence with your boss before knowing what you would be doing and planning accordingly.
If you have a medical condition or other reason why you need to take time off, get back in touch with colleagues before your return. This way, they know why you are back and can offer support.
Get yourself set up again at work before returning. If you’re an extrovert, who thrives on social interaction, getting caught up on what everyone has been up to might be easier than just catching up on what you were supposed to do while gone!
Take some time when you first come back to get things in order so that everything is ready for when you need it most. Then, organise your files and desk, read emails and voicemails, and set aside time for those pesky tasks that always seem to linger (even though they shouldn’t!).
See the people who matter most. When we come back from being away for a little bit, we often miss our co-workers and bosses more than we might have thought! During your first few days back, take some time to chat with fellow workers about what they’ve been up to in your absence; listen closely for gossip.
Prepare your workspace.
It would help if you prepared your workspace for when you come back. For example, set up your computer and keep it in the same spot each day, have a designated space for all of your work and rearrange your desk as needed. Ensure your meeting spaces are all set up and ready to go. Organise meeting tables, so you and your colleagues can get together for meetings and catch-ups in a safe environment. You may find that having a clean workspace with everything in its place is easier to navigate than if there was clutter everywhere.
Set out the tools you need beforehand to ensure they are always available when needed. If you know what programs or equipment you often use, set them out on your desk or within arm’s reach of where you typically sit so they’re handy when the need arises.
And don’t forget about backups! Please keep copies of your work stored somewhere safe if anything happens to them while you are away.
Decide how to prioritise your tasks.
One of the most common reasons people find their transition back to work difficult is that they prioritise. It’s important to prioritise your tasks to determine what is most important and urgent. You should tackle one task at a time, without interruptions or distractions, which will help you feel in control. This will make you more confident about your abilities and improve your performance.
It’s also helpful to decide whether or not you want to start by diving into new projects or to catch up on old ones before moving forward with anything new. If you need some practice with current tasks before taking on something new, focus on those first and then move on to the new job.