I’m back at work and it’s not the same

You’ve been waiting for this day.  You’ve been wanting this day.  This day couldn’t come fast enough.

Your first day back at the office with all of your team.  Except, where is everyone?  Not everyone is back.  There hallways are empty.  The kitchens are empty.  The carpark is empty.  There aren’t as many clients coming in.  The phones are quiet.  It doesn’t feel the same.  What has happened?  This isn’t the world I as I left it.

It is the new Usual (un/usual). The new Normal.

The world as we know it has changed.  How much it has changed and what it will become no one really knows.  The future is different to how we left it.

Most of us will go through the grief cycle again.  And that’s ok.  It is important that we accept that change causes grief and these feelings and questions are normal.  We need to continue to look after ourselves emotionally, mentally and physically.

The new shock will go something like this:

DENIAL – Work isn’t different.  I’m still doing what I was doing.  It will feel the same soon.

ANGER – Why isn’t everyone back?  Why am I the only one back?  Where is everyone else?  I shouldn’t have come back?  This is ridiculous!

DEPRESSION – I don’t like this.  I think I may start working from home again.  This isn’t the same.  I want to go back to what it was like before COVID 19.

BARGAINING – Maybe I can work a few days a week from home.  Maybe it will be okay if I wait it out.  Maybe calling my colleagues will make me feel better.

ACCEPTANCE – I am ok. I will be ok. And I am okay that this is the new Usual.  The new Normal.

Most of us don’t like change as we fear the unknown.  Soon the unknown will be our known.  Time heals.  Communication is essential to ensuring that our teams come through this.

When people return to work we need to continue to focus on the 4 P’s:

  • Physiology – this is how you eat and move. Continue to role model health and wellbeing.
  • Productivity – this is all about time management.  Continue to role model performance and productivity.
  • Recovery – this refers to stress management.  Continue to model effective work life balance.
  • Psychology – how you manage the way you think.  Continue to manage your emotions effectively.

This is the new normal.  Enjoy it.  Embrace it.  Create it.

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