Guide to returning to work
After what has been a long period of being away from the workplace and one in which the world has changed dramatically, this guide has top tips to help us get back into some new and old rhythms and routines.
Checking in with your employer
Your manager is likely to have been keeping in contact with you throughout this period and if you have been keeping up to date with the news, you will have heard that there may be changes to your work patterns in order to reduce the number of staff on-site at any time. Try to be flexible, but consider your travel arrangements before committing to any suggested changes to your working hours. Make sure you speak to your employer about any circumstances that may have changed over the last couple of months, i.e. caring responsibilities or your welfare so that they can support you.
Rhythms and routines
After being away from normal daily routines you may find it hard to go from being off to restarting in one day. A suggestion would be to get your body clock to some normality by starting your ‘working’ patterns before you return so it is not such a shock to the system. Employers will aim to give you as much notice as possible for a return to work, with a minimum of 48 hours’ notice.
The night before, the first day back
Try to ensure you get enough rest. Relax by limiting the usage of your phone or other electronic devices for an hour before you choose to go to bed. It is also a good idea to prepare your lunch and clothes to give you more free time in the morning.
Travelling to work
Public transport has been affected by the pandemic, so it is a good idea that you check the arrangements in place, before you travel. You can plan both bus and train journeys using Kent Council Council’s Travel Planner: Plan your bus journey – Kent County Council.
If travelling via car, then the following blog is a handy guide to show you how to check your car and make sure it is roadworthy before setting off on your journey: Preparing your car for life after lockdown – Halfords.
Government Covid-19 legislation
The Government, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Public Health England (PHE) have all issued and continue to update their guidance for the workplace. It is important that you are provided with information on these as specific guidelines will differ depending on your area of business. Always adhere to them and provide feedback on any concerns or improvements to your employer. For general up to date information, please read Being COVID Secure.
Whether in the workplace or the community, it is still vitally important that you remain at least 2 metres away from any other person, who does not live within your household. At times this will be challenging, especially in corridors or confined spaces. For information on how you handle these situations, please speak with your employer.
Personal protective equipment
Be clear about your employer’s expectations, as it is your responsibility as individuals, to ensure that you wear any protective equipment when instructed to do so, as this will help reduce the rate of infection between people. However, it is also equally important to wash your hands at regular intervals with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and regularly wipe surfaces you touch, such as your desk with antibacterial wipes. If possible, always have antibacterial gel available.
First day back to work
This may feel like your first day at work all over again but remember most of your colleagues have not seen each other since the closures and may be feeling excited and/or nervous too. Give yourself time, you will relax into the ‘new normal’. Be vigilant, ensure that you are aware of the measures that your employer has put in place to be Covid-19 secure.
Health and wellbeing
The pandemic has caused uncertainty and concern across the world and is set to remain present in our lives for some time, so we need to make sure we seek out help or support if we are finding things difficult. There are a number of options available to you, including The Apprentice Support line on 0300 456 8210 or by accessing the Remploy website Support Service for Apprentices. Some of the things you can do to help yourself include:
– Staying connected. Try to maintain relationships with other people. Keep in contact with family and friends by email, phone or social media.
– Manage the time you spend following the outbreak on news and social media. Try to find a balance with keeping informed with the news but knowing when it is causing you stress and it’s time to turn off. Try not to dramatise stories in the news and consider whether some of your social media feeds are increasing your concerns and not providing any additional information.
– Physical wellbeing. Try to get a daily routine of looking after yourself. Eating healthy and drinking plenty of water will help you to feel better. Daily exercise is encouraged as long as you follow social distancing guidance. Alternatively, if you are staying at home you can find free 10-minute workouts from the NHS Fitness Studio: Fitness Studio exercise videos – NHS.
– Keeping your mind active. Try to engage in hobbies that you enjoy or learn something new. Check out virtual courses available from Kent Adult Education (you must be aged 19 and over): Kent Adult Education Courses Online.
– Time to relax. Relaxation techniques can help with worries and improve mental wellbeing. There is more
guidance and ideas about this from NHS England: Every Mind Matters.
– Goals and structure. Having goals and a daily structure can give you a sense of control and purpose. Think about what you want to achieve and what needs completing during this time at home.
For full guidance on the current restrictions because of the coronavirus, please visit Coronavirus outbreak FAQ’s – GOV.UK or for more information on your responsibilities as an Apprentice, see For Apprentices during Covid-19 – Gov.uk.
If things get tough, remember your Apprenticeship tutor is there to support you. You are also welcome to email CLSsafeguarding@kent.gov.uk. KCC also offers a free support service called Release the
Pressure, for more details, call 0800 1070160 or click Release the Pressure.