How to Prepare for a Return to Work

Written by: Noah Rue

Whether you’ve struggled to find work or had remote work opportunities for the last year, now that vaccinations are being distributed, business is finally beginning to ramp back up. For many, this means not only a chance to start a new job but physical workplaces, in general, will soon be opening up once again. 


However, as work and life return back to “normal,” you may find yourself struggling to adjust to a regular work schedule again. While COVID-19 is still a risk for much of the population, now is the time to begin preparing yourself mentally and physically for a successful return to work.


Facing the Tough Stuff

After such a long (albeit stressful) break from the office, you may be feeling conflicted upon your return. In some ways, you may look forward to the opportunity to get away from the house, see familiar faces, and have a sense of normalcy again. However, you’re also likely dreading the return to certain coworkers or situations. Workplace microaggressions, for example, are also going to be making their return to the office. 


Microinsults, microinvalidations, or microassaults are all difficult to navigate, but it is possible to reduce microaggressions. Moreover, learning how to deal with certain situations, as well as what you will not tolerate at work can make the difference between enjoying the return to work or not. Some ways to address microaggressions at work include:


  • Address the Microaggressions: This can be tricky depending on the situation, but if you feel comfortable confronting the aggressor(s), then do so in a professional matter, stating the facts in a way that conveys how their behavior has negatively affected you. Try: “I found what you said/did unacceptable and ask you to please not let it happen again as a friend/co-worker.”


  • Write Down Your Thoughts: If you aren’t in a place to confront the aggressor(s) at work yet, or you aren’t sure how to put your feelings into words, trying writing. Think of the times when you experienced a microaggression and how the situation made you feel, how it’s affected your overall health and self-esteem, and what you wish you could say to the person who made you feel invalidated or stereotyped. 


  • Contact HR: Setting up an appointment with HR is of course another way to bring attention to the issue, particularly if you aren’t able to confront the person directly first. HR can provide guidance and assist in bringing a resolution to the issue.


Whether you’re unable to leave your position for financial reasons or you enjoy many other aspects of your office, reducing tensions at work once you return can really make a huge difference in the long run.

Don’t Forget Yesterday’s Lessons

If you’ve been lucky enough to be vaccinated before your return to work, it’s still important to keep up with familiar COVID-19 practices. In particular, now is not the time to let the hygiene lesson we have all learned slip. While hope is on the horizon, there is still a lot of uncertainty looming regarding vaccine effectiveness. There is also the threat of the COVID-19 virus variants. And if you haven’t been vaccinated then keeping sanitization practices at the forefront of your mind is essential. Both proper handwashing and hand sanitizer are still absolutely a necessary part of your routine. 

Have Patience

While it is exciting that we seem to be moving in the right direction away from the pandemic, this battle isn’t quite over. Tempering your expectations returning to work is one way to keep yourself from being mentally overloaded upon your return. With so many uncertainties, everyone is still trying to figure out how to safely and effectively move forward. There are going to be road bumps that will likely cause some stress, confusion, and even anger. However, this time needs to be about taking things one step at a time, especially since we still don’t know when exactly the pandemic will officially be over.

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