11 June 2020

Get back to work without worrying

Many of us have been in lockdown for nearly three months but as long as coronavirus cases continue to decline, the UK’s gradually getting back to work. Since it seems as though our ‘new normal’ is going to be quite different from the ‘business as usual’ that we’ve all been used to, the return to the office is going to be a step into the unknown. Here are some ways for you to manage your post-lockdown work worries…


Commuting has never been anyone’s favourite time of day but with reduced public transport schedules, increased social distancing and the ever-present concern of Covid-19, getting to work now has added complications. Keep your stress levels down by taking as much control as you can. Three-layer masks will be a requirement on buses and trains from 15 June, for example, so buy yours now and carry spares. Since soap and alcohol gel are both proven ways of killing the virus, carry those too. As for the journey itself, while roads may currently be emptier, that may change as more people favour their cars over trains or buses. With almost any method of commuting likely to take longer, plan ahead by checking schedules, agree flexible working hours with your employer or, if you can, set out earlier by bike or on foot.


Many workplaces have now been closed for months, while some will have to be modified to fall in line with distancing requirements. There will be office blocks not immediately served by all the coffee shops and fast food outlets that surround them, and others whose staff canteens will remain closed. With so much currently unknown, if you can’t fall back into your old routine straight away, then don’t panic. It’ll take a while to work out how to deal with one-way corridors, taped-off work cubicles and lifts with a restricted capacity – both for you and your employer. And speaking of which…


Since no one in living memory has had to deal with any situation quite like the Covid-19 pandemic, if it often feels as though everyone’s making the rules up as they going along, it’s probably because they are. Which means that now is the ideal time to talk to your employer about your new working environment. What do you like? Do any aspects of it worry you? How might it be improved to make everyone safer? Don’t keep your worries to yourself, make them know.


Living with the threat of Covid-19 is going to take some getting used to and, like it or not, we’re all in this together. The rate at which shops and businesses open and travel restrictions are lifted will be determined by fluctuations in hospital admissions. For the time being, we need to get used to the idea of working in ways that protect the individual as well as the public. Maybe flexible working between an office and the home will be with us for some time. If the science shows that your face mask protects us from your sneezes and our masks protect you, then guess what – we’re all wearing face masks until the end of the year at least. We don’t know what will happen next – no one does. But if we all get along, consider the safety of others and act sensibly by considering avoidable risks as well as our own responsibilities, coping with the ‘new normal’ doesn’t have to be a constant stress.


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