Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Oct. 27, 2021

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Reyer: Have a plan for return to work after long layoff

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After being laid off for several months, I’m going to be starting a new job. This is great news but I’m worried that I won’t be in the workday groove after all this time off. How can I best prepare now and adjust when the time comes? At some level I’m going to miss the freedom and flexibility I’ve had.

–Sandra, 47, organizational development leader

Congratulations on your new role! And kudos for your awareness that preparation will serve you well as you move into your next phase.

What’s your day-to-day life right now? Consider the aspects you particularly like and those that may no longer fit when you’re working full time.

How much structure have you created? If you have been very loose in managing your time, it will be a bigger adjustment than if you have had a daily schedule that you’ve kept to, at least somewhat.

Or, you may have created a daily structure that includes, for example, prolonged morning self-care in the form of meditation, exercise or other activities. These needs won’t go away, but your approach may need to evolve.

Commuting is also likely to be re-entering your life, unless you are working from home. This also will require planning and takes a bite of time out of each day.

In the time before you start, get warmed up by starting your day at the same time you will need to once you are in your job. Wake up, do your morning cleanup, have breakfast, all the usual stuff.

If you are going to have some peaceful morning time, figure out how early you need to get moving. Then do it starting now.

Likewise, start going to bed at a time that will give you enough rest. If you have been a napper, break the habit now. You won’t have the option once you’re back in an office.

Prep your wardrobe. Make sure your work attire fits and is ready to wear. This will avoid last-minute panic and let you go into your first week feeling put together.

Visualize your first days on the job, setting the stage for success. Picture yourself ready to learn, bringing your curiosity and your active-listening skills.

If you have a tendency to take over, envision yourself sitting back, asking good questions and soaking in the things you need to know.

Know your stress triggers. There are any number of opportunities for anxiety to kick in, from having to quickly learn lots of new information to meeting many new people in a short period of time.

This could be especially acute if you are a perfectionist. You won’t know everything right away and you will make mistakes. Have some strategies to ease your stress in these situations.

It could also trigger some Imposter Syndrome, the feeling that you are not really good enough for the role you are in. Trust your organization’s decision to hire you and set this aside as best you can.

Don’t be surprised when you are really tired at the end of the day, and cut yourself some slack.

Try to lighten the load in terms of after-work commitments for the short term, and nurture yourself as you make the adjustment.

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