Returning To Work After Furlough

How do you feel about the return to work after furlough? Maybe you’re excited, or perhaps you feel overcome with anxiety. It’s normal to be experiencing a mixture of emotions right now. We’ve all had a rough year, our lives have all drastically changed, and the return to work may seem daunting.

Work-life does have its perks! You might have missed the office banter & mountains of free cake. Of course, everything in life has its downfalls; that colleague who talks just a bit too much, forcing yourself out of bed and having to actually look presentable. 

When Covid-19 took away working life for many of us last year, many people struggled with the change. On the other hand, a lot of us enjoyed spending more quality time at home with family. Going back to work after furlough is coming hand in hand with a whole range of emotions and feelings.

Some positives have risen from these changes; many workplaces are changing how they work for the better, such as encouraging hybrid working. These changes are helping employees have a stronger work-life balance, something we all welcome with open arms! If you are struggling with the idea of returning to work after furlough, here are some tricks to make the change a bit easier for your workplace.

It’s OK To Feel Anxious!

Anybody feeling anxious about the return to work is not alone; this feeling has actually got a name! Reentry anxiety, the worry of things returning to normal. We’ve all spent most of the past year in our homes, where we are protected from the virus.

As well as health concerns about spreading or catching Covid-19, employees may be worried about socialising with other staff members. To help make the return to work less stressful, talk to your employees. Ask them how they feel! Ask for advice about how you should handle things and request feedback when staff do return to work.

Get Prepared and Plan Ahead

Think about the logistics of the working day, and encourage employees to do a practice run! Some of the main things to think about are:

  • Who will be at work? Talk to these people to see how they feel about the return to work.
  • How will they get to work? If some employees don’t drive and are concerned about using public transport, encourage car sharing if safe to do so.
  • Will you need to change the working process? If jobs usually involve close contact, you need to consider changing the way employees work and possibly using PPE.
  • Will the building layout be different? Ensure social distancing is enforced where needed, signage is up, and sanitising stations are located in the building.

Communication Is Key

If the return to work after furlough is causing your employees stress, talk to them about it! Let them know which safety measures are in place, and explain what they can expect a working day to look like on returning to work.

If you can, implement flexible working. Talk to staff about the possibility of hybrid working, a phased return to work or a part-time return from furlough. No good boss wants an unhappy employee!

You should treat the return to work after furlough almost as if your employees are new. You should implement an onboarding process, hold regular catch up meetings to find out how people are doing. 

While team meetings can be an excellent opportunity for everybody to share their experiences and thoughts about returning to work, they can be challenging to get right and aren’t always necessary. Consider a workshop to gain tips and tricks on deciding if a virtual meeting is necessary, as well as advice on hosting the best virtual meetings.

Alongside team meetings, It’s a good idea to have one-to-ones, as staff may feel uncomfortable saying how they think in front of others. 

Jazz Up The Workplace

Pop into the workplace and give it a little makeover in advance! Have a clean and spruce up the decor. Encourage staff to bring some items from home; family photos, their favourite mug. Home comforts will help employees to feel relaxed and comfortable. 

Consider purchasing some plants; Indoor plants have been proven to reduce stress, so just the addition of a desk cactus could help a lot more than you may think!

Review How Things Are Going

Don’t expect everything to feel normal straight away. Usual ways of working might not return for a long time yet, if ever, but there are a lot of positives to focus on! Workplaces are changing how things run for the better. With such a focus on flexible working hours and hybrid working, staff happiness will improve along with productivity at work. 

Look out for yourself and your employees, and take each day at a time. If you feel like a staff member is struggling with the return to work, talk to them, let them know what can be put into place to help! Accommodate a part-time return to work or working from home where possible.

Have regular check-ins with your team, ask how everybody is doing and whether you can do anything to help with the return to work. If you feel you need some advice around managing the return to work, here at Vibrant Thinking, we have resources to help you every step of the way.

Our Hybrid Working Transformation Programme is designed to ensure your new way of working runs as smoothly as possible, with your business and colleagues’ best interests in mind. Contact us today. Let’s discuss how you can make the return to work from furlough as easy as possible for your staff.