Things are slowly getting up and running again as lockdown restrictions in states across the country begin to loosen. While many people across the country are still working remotely, that’s not the case for everyone. With office spaces gradually starting to open up again, many people are getting ready to return to work. If you’re about to head back to the office during these unprecedented times, then you’ll want to check out these three tips to help you get prepared.
Tip #1: Arrive to Work Prepared
Given the new circumstances surrounding the workplace, you might need to come prepared with a few extra items that weren’t as necessary before the pandemic. In addition to the necessities you may have brought to work in the past, such as a key card or work laptop, you’ll need to bring items that will help you stay safe and protect you from infection. In order to help you out, here’s a checklist of things that you should consider bringing with you once you return to the office:
Multiple face masks
A travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol
Disinfecting wipes to wipe down your workspace with
Secure, insulated lunch coolers to store food you’ve prepared yourself
Tissues to cover your coughs and sneezes
Tip #2: Practice Self-Care
Returning to the office during such a strange and chaotic time can be very overwhelming. You may feel anxious or frightened to leave the safety of your own home and enter a workspace where you could potentially become infected. Or, perhaps you’re just stressed about the new normal in the office—strict guidelines, minimal contact with coworkers, masks over everyone’s face.
In order to manage your anxiety and stress about returning to the office, you should try to practice self-care. This means taking proper care of your mind and body so that you stay in good health. If you’re wondering what self-care looks like, here are a few specific examples:
Get enough sleep each night. Getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night can help you stay healthy both mentally and physically. Plenty of sleep can also help reduce your stress levels, while a lack of sleep makes it more difficult to stay focused and regulate your mood.
Practice meditation. Once or twice per day, sit down, place both feet firmly on the ground, close your eyes, and just focus on your breathing. Meditation is a natural stress reducer that can make you feel calmer and more relaxed throughout the day. Even if you only meditate for five to ten minutes, you’d be surprised by the difference it makes.
Maintain a healthy diet. The food you eat affects more than just your body and physical health—it also has an impact on your mind and your mood. Try to stick with a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. On top of that, make sure that you drink water throughout the work day in order to stay hydrated.
Tip #3: Be Aware of Your Rights
When you have a thorough understanding of your workplace rights, you can more effectively set boundaries for yourself. Above all else, you should make your health a priority. Don’t get pushed or pressured by your employer into doing anything that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. You shouldn’t have to compromise your health and risk infection in order to earn a paycheck.
In the case that you have a disability, you should look into the rights provided to you by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Seeing as the COVID-19 virus poses a greater risk to those with disabilities, you may qualify for special privileges and protections that safeguard your health and well-being.
You should also be aware of an emergency measure passed in March called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which requires some employers to provide employees with paid sick leave when the circumstances are related to COVID-19. If you become infected with the virus, you could be eligible to receive up to two weeks of paid sick leave in order to allow you to recover and quarantine. Even if you personally aren’t infected with the virus, you may qualify for paid sick leave in order to care for someone who has contracted the virus and needs your assistance, or in order to look after your child if their school or child care provider has closed.
Your health is of the utmost importance, so make sure that when you do head back to your office, you do so in a way that keeps you protected from infection. Keep these tips in mind to make the transition back to office life go as smoothly as possible.