Wellbeing During COVID-19

Returning to the Workplace

Returning Engaged and Purposeful  

You may be feeling great about returning to your workplace, ready for the challenge, excited about new prospects and meeting colleagues again.  Or you may be rather more apprehensive as to how it will be, unsettled by all the recent events and rather anxious about the prospect of more uncertainty ahead; it can certainly feel stressful when things are changing fast.  These might be at the two extremes of how you are feeling right now, more likely your emotions and feelings waver somewhere between the two, which is only natural.   

‘Mixed feelings’ may well be the best way to describe your return to the workplace so how do we try to get ourselves into a mindset which feels purposeful and engaged?  We can look to our line-manager and our colleagues to offer encouragement and support as we return but ultimately it is our responsibility to find the motivation and sense of purpose to return in a positive way. No-one can do it for us, but some of the thinking you have completed during the lockdown and perhaps through reading these weekly blogs may well have helped you to work some things through.   

Lockdown, working from home, social distancing, self-isolation, furlough have afforded us an opportunity to reflect on our experience and to look at all aspects of our life, what it means, where we are, what we want now.  We may have seen our priorities change, or discovered new interests, developed new skills or simply been coping day by day.  Many have looked at relationships to family and friends and also our own wants and needs.    It has been a period of recalibration.  

Now, as we begin to return to the workplace, is the time to bring those insights and sense of resolve together to make our own re-engagement with work.  Dig deep into our reserves, use our insights and work through this to enable us to return to work engaged and purposeful.  It’s important for two reasons;  

(1) It’s what our employer will expect, want and need from us now and into the future.   We can make a big difference and our strength and our engagement as well as our expertise and experience may be much needed. It is clear how challenging this period will also be for most employers and how much they will need you to be engaged and purposeful, despite all the uncertainty.   

(2) Being engaged is good for our own wellbeing.  Our wellbeing suffers immeasurably if we cannot feel engaged or purposeful in what we do.  Self-care and self-compassion are vital during this unsettling period and you cannot care for others if you do not care for yourself.   Part of that self-care is about feeling purposeful, connected to your world, engaged in your work.  It means you feel more in control, of course, but also it gives meaning and identity, helping to define who you are, what you believe, and what you do.  

Something to encourage you will be the fact you did get through the lockdown experience and showed your resilience and ability to ride the waves.  Think back as well to other times when you have needed to rise to the challenge when facing major change or difficult events in your life.   These show that you can do it.    Now you face a new challenge.  You can start to build the future, to not simply “get back to normal” but to have a new sense of purpose in which to believe, which means a leap forward rather than merely a bounce back.    

As you prepare, be clear on your “sense of purpose” and on what work means for you as an individual.

          What do you like about work?  

          What do you do well?

          What are you most proud of in your work?  

Deliberately, start thinking in a positive way about work and value the fact that you can play such a key part in your organisation.Reconnect with why it matters to you what you do and how you can contribute.   Ensure your mindset is directed towards seeing a way ahead, knowing as you do that it will be bumpy.    Here are four things that might help think yourself into a positive frame of mind:

(1) Remind yourself about the positive things about work and about your abilities and commitment.   Go back time and time again to how well you managed the lockdown period.  Remember other times when you face difficulties and overcame them.   Acknowledge the strength you have and tap into it at the very time you, and your organisation, need it most.  

(2) Spend your time as much as possible with people who are feeling positive themselves and who can give you energy and encouragement.  These are the “enablers” who can help us see the best in ourselves and in work.   People who make you laugh or feel cheerful, those who try to see the prospects ahead.  That is not disregarding others who are quieter or keep themselves to themselves, but here we are focused on you, and what you need in terms of positive energy.  

(3) Keep a distance from those who drain your energy, who are full of negativity and who can only see the problems ahead.   They weigh you down, weaken your resilience and dent your enthusiasm.

(4) Value the other aspects of your life which during the last few weeks have become even more precious to you.  Seek out the people and places who seem to make things better and with whom you most like spending time.  Look to them for support and encouragement to stay positive.   Keep to a new resolve to balance your life, making more time for those aspects which you discovered during lockdown that mattered to you.    This may require an open and honest conversation with your manager, but they will listen and show compassion – they have been through this too.  

You may not be able to achieve this all the time but create as many opportunities as you can to put yourself in a working environment that supports and energises you.   Your personal engagement levels will rise, your sense of purpose will strengthen.  After all, look at what you have been through already.    You have achieved more than “bounce back” you have positively leapt forward.

Next, and final bulletin due on Friday14 August:  Getting the right balance for you



If you would like to discuss the relevance to your organisation, please call us