As the COVID-19 pandemic starts to show signs of stabilizing and some areas start to reopen, many of us can begin returning to work. Whether you’ve been furloughed, or simply have been working from home, going back to a traditional office can be different, scary, and intimidating at first.
You may notice that your job description has changed, and there are fewer co-workers in the building. You might also feel some apprehension about being in close contact with people again after the long quarantine. With these helpful tips, you’ll not only stay protected physically, but also you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re following the right procedures to return to the working world safely.
Protect Yourself Financially
While it’s wonderful that people are getting back to work, chances are, if you were unemployed during the pandemic, your savings account has taken a hit. Once you start receiving a paycheck again, with the help of discipline and a workable budget, you’ll be able to build your savings back up over time.
But what happens if a disaster occurs right away, such as an expensive health-related emergency, a car accident, or a breakdown inside your home? For the former possibilities, it’s always advisable to keep your health and auto insurance squared away. For the latter, investing in a home warranty — designed to help you cover the big expenses such as repairs to appliances and utilities — is another excellent way to protect yourself from the unexpected.
Protect Yourself Physically
Moving back into a traditional office setting can be intimidating, especially after you’ve spent months in quarantine. You may be able to interact with colleagues face-to-face for the first time in months, but now is not the time to let your guard down. It’s still important to make sure you’re practicing good hygiene.
Remember to continue to follow the CDC guidelines, washing your hands with hot, soapy water (sing two “Happy Birthday” songs!), and to use hand sanitizer after touching public spaces where you can’t wash afterward. If you’re working in a shared space, be respectful of your co-workers and wipe down the area with antiviral wipes once you’re done.
Build Your Budget
Unfortunately, the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 has led to pay cuts for many workers. Adjusting to a new way of life can be difficult, especially with a reduced income. As a first step toward getting back on solid ground, set up a budget. Cover your housing and utility expenses first, then put some money aside for savings, and hopefully, you’ll have a little left to enjoy the hobbies and activities you love.
Now is the perfect time to check your credit, too. If your credit rating is lower than you’d like, work to rebuild it. Having a higher credit score can save you money in the long run with lower interest rates for auto or home loans.
COVID-19 brought a wave of changes to our world, putting many aspects of “normal” life on hold for the foreseeable future. A number of companies have laid off or furloughed portions of their staff, with the remaining employees often working longer hours to cover the vacant positions. It’s important to be patient. Many are working on skeleton crews, performing unfamiliar tasks. Lots of people are stretched thin at work — and further worried about home, health, and financial troubles. Take a deep breath and try to be patient as your company and co-workers iron out the kinks.
Prepare for Changes
As important as it is to stay patient, it’s equally important to remain flexible. As you return to the workforce, remember that your job description may have changed during the pandemic. Your duties may have shifted, or you may be taking on the responsibilities of another position entirely.
It’s important to take these changes in stride. Remember that, unlike many people, you at least have a job. There’s also an upside to learning new tasks at work: By taking on added responsibility, you’ll increase your knowledge about the industry, not to mention your value to the company.
Declutter Your Home
Some of us may be returning to work full time, while others may still be working part time from home. Chances are, you’ve accumulated quite a few things during quarantine you don’t need.
To help declutter your space, why not go through your belongings, set aside cherished items to go to a storage unit. These come in several shapes and sizes, and some are even temperature- and climate-controlled to protect your valuable items.
When that’s done, discard what you don’t need. Whether you’re still working from home or returning after a day at your reopened office, cleaning out the excess will leave you with more room to function effectively.
Prepare for More Stay-at-Home
Some companies are finding they can save a lot of money by having employees transition to working from home permanently. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to set up a permanent home office. Look for a secluded, private space where you can focus on work without being distracted. Set up a dedicated workspace that allows you to stay comfortable and productive throughout the day.
Moving back into the working world after a lot of time in quarantine can be difficult. When you return, some procedures might seem unfamiliar at first, especially with new safety protocols in place to protect you. Your co-workers may still be furloughed, and you may have taken a pay cut to allow your company to continue functioning. But by being flexible and patient with the new workload, continuing to follow CDC guidelines, and preparing for an extended period of work from home if necessary, you’ll be able to stay safe and healthy while remaining productive.