As COVID-19 restrictions have eased across Australia, employees have started returning to workplaces that are vastly different from the ones they left behind. Whilst the term “unprecedented” is undoubtedly an accurate adjective in 2020, it does not mean we are rudderless in these uncharted waters. There are many other other crises and transitions we can look to for insight, research and proven practices.
Encouragingly, there are parallels between transitioning back to work after significant life events and returning to work post-COVID-19. For example, a friend took 8 months parental leave last year to care for her first baby, a similar length of time to that which many of us have spent working from home, tracksuit bound. While she did not return to work wearing a face-mask, she still felt nervous, experienced strong culture shock, and had to adjust to a new sense of normal; exactly my feelings when contemplating returning to the workplace after months in lockdown.
Zahra Abrams in a recent piece for the American Psychological Association sums it up nicely that “while the pandemic differs from other crises in our lifetime, research and expertise developed in past crises can help to inform our responses”. Here we describe evidence-based pointers for organisations to help support their staff transition back to a Covid-normal workplace:
Although no COVID-19 return-to-work frameworks can be drawn upon, evidence-based strategies can help us to navigate these unchartered waters. Using transition support and structured return-to-work strategies, will improve your employees’ ability to transition back to work smoothly, helping to lower the cost of expenses such as absenteeism and lost productivity.
Tess Collins, Transitioning Well
Abrams, Z. (2020, July). Leadership in Times of Crisis. Retrieved fromhttps://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/07/leadership-crisis
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation (2020). Kübler-Ross Change Curve. Retrieved from https://www.ekrfoundation.org/5-stages-of-grief/change-curve/
Norris, K. (2020). The Path Back from Social Isolation: A Guide By Kimberley Norris, University of Tasmania.
Schwarzer, R., & Knoll, N. (2003). Positive coping: Mastering demands and searching for meaning. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Positive psychological assessment: A handbook of models and measures (p. 393–409). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/10612-025