The novel coronavirus upset the ordinary course of life. Everyday behavior changed, and people transformed—each in their way. And depending on how careless and how careful each one of us was, we responded to the pandemic. Many, including the reckless, got caught in the Covid-19 maelstrom. Others took social distancing and mask mandates seriously—accepted the sanitizer for its Covid value—and did not get infected or hospitalized.
Overall, however, there was panic. Businesses closed shop. Offices emptied, and WFH—work from home— took form. Governments imposed a lockdown, and people isolated themselves. Pets, perhaps, wondered at the change.
Now we are ending 2021 on a relatively better note, and millions are returning to the workplace. As we have seen how Covid 19 Impacted businesses. The world wants to pick up from where it left before the lockdowns and the quarantine—before WFH! No more working in pyjamas. Offices are beginning to open, and people have got their cars out with the tanks full. Employees are getting calls and messages to return to the office.
Still afraid! You are not alone. New variants of the coronavirus are emerging. The popular view is as long as people vaccinate and follow the Covid-19 protocol, there need not be panic. A strict watch at airports will suffice. You should, however, consider certain factors.
Don’t be dismayed if you get conflicting thoughts about stepping out of the safety of home and hearth. It is normal. Everybody gets them. Acknowledge these negative thoughts and try to control them as much as possible. Fight paranoia. Fight the obsession to sanitize every nook and corner of the office space. Don’t pester colleagues to sanitize, sanitize and sanitize. Don’t give anybody the impression they are lax in following the Covid-19 protocol. Do not bore colleagues with details of comorbidities.
Do your bit; let them do theirs. Do not infect anybody with your anxiety. Acknowledge the fears assailing you. Don’t let fears hurt your health—mental and physical. It will also impact your performance in the office.
The office would not be the same as when you left it last when you return. Your behavior in the office will also change, given the Covid-19 protocol that will dictate workplace behavior. Social distancing and the mask will take precedence. There will be a sanitizer at every workstation. The coffee machine will no longer be a gossip point. Try to fit into these changes. Do not lose your cool or break protocol. Be positive, have faith. Accept the changes. Let work take over. Do your job like it is a labor of love! There is nothing like hard work to return to a state of normalcy. Take that normalcy home. As somebody said, be the solution, not the problem.
You are back to work at the office, and you are the living example of having survived a pandemic. It is no mean feat when the enemy is invisible—can not be seen or felt, and you had to keep it away with hard-fought discipline. But you are not the only one in office who has beaten the viral pandemic. All your colleagues who answered the call to return to work are Covid-19 warriors who defeated the infection, some by keeping it at bay, others by fighting it in their bodies. It was a tough call for all. Also, many must have lost a near and dear one to the pandemic. There are memories to be kept shut out. Equally, some may be in a financial crisis—others simply nervous, anxious, and in pain. What to do? One word: be compassionate. Another word: be patient. Last, lend a patient ear to all and sundry in pain.
Covid-19 was not a pleasant trip. People who caught the infection went through hell. And it did not end with that. There is also the more extended version of Covid-19, which leaves people discouraged and disgusted. People retreat into shells, and sadness permeates even the walls. Returning to the workplace isn’t all hunky-dory. One of the other colleagues may never return--is beyond return. That does not mean any sadness should be allowed to prevail. You have to take the lead in making people feel comfortable; lighten the atmosphere and the mood; spread cheer, and make sure that work does not suffer.
Spread good vibes all around the office—share WFH anecdotes. The office atmosphere will lighten when everybody has a WFH story to tell—one story a day! WFH did not leave anyone untouched. Lunch breaks will not be like before the WFH. Ditto coffee breaks. Distribute the stories around—the good, the bad, and the ugly!
The pandemic and the lockdowns broke the backs of tens of thousands of businesses. The balance sheet went bent; productivity took massive hits. Covid-19 did not spare any business—even the mom and pop shops.
But with a return to the office from WFH, there’s the chance to regroup and recoup—get back to business in real earnest. You should be part of the reconstruction—bring back the focus on increasing productivity. The challenge of returning to work after a prolonged absence shouldn’t be allowed to go unanswered. The return to office after the long WFH should be a smooth and successful transition.
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The Covid-19 has changed the way we lived and worked before. For a long time, people have been forced to work from home, and many new HR concepts have emerged and become mainstream things. Now, the Covid-19 pandemic seems to have become less virulent, offices have once again started to function. It may take a good deal of time before you feel settled in work from the office setup. This post should help you in the process!