Returning to the Workplace After Quarantine

returning to the workplace after quarantine

Working from home has been a hot topic across the internet, but as things reopen, returning to the workplace will bring its own challenges. So let’s explore the implications of returning to the workplace after quarantine.

I’ll begin with some general information regarding employers, then I will go deeper into the opportunities that exist for you as an individual. Indeed, this is an opportunity that you DON’T want to miss.

Health Considerations When Returning to the Workplace

Most employers will have guidance from local, state, and federal recommendations. This information should be communicated to you by the employer.

Physical distancing will remain a good idea during the initial waves of employees. Some companies may rearrange seating charts to provide additional safety.

You may that find sanitizer and other cleaning supplies are available throughout the office. But bring your own if you have concerns.

Additionally, requirements on face masks, meeting sizes, and common area communication will vary depending on the state, city, business type, and employer.

During the first few months back, if you show symptoms or notice others showing symptoms, report it immediately and self-quarantine.

Finally, ask your employer’s HR or Employee Admin resources for specific details on returning to the workplace after quarantine.

Behavior Impacts When Returning to the Workplace

On average, a habit is formed in 66 days. The amount of time most of us have been working from home exceeds this amount. This means, when returning to the workplace, you’ll have to readjust to new habits. Keep this in mind.

Beware of Irritation and Overwhelm

As with any change, irritation and general resistance will come up. Your coworkers will also be on edge. This emotional state will make it difficult to be empathetic. So, recognize your predisposition to irritation early. Do what you can to carry this awareness with you before it takes over. Specifically, you can do this by setting an early intention to remain level headed. Then carry this intention with you throughout your interactions with others.

Take Advantage of the Transition Period

When returning to the workplace after quarantine, you will be in, what I call, a “Transition Period”. These are milestones in life that can range from the macro to the micro. It can be as simple as transitioning from sleep to awake via a morning routine. A Transition Period can also include leaving work for the day. It can be as complicated as graduating college or moving to a new location. Transition Periods can be on a short-term scale or a long-term scale.

A Transition Period is just a point in time that separates two distinct states of behavior. The context change is what makes it a Transition Period. This change in context triggers the brain that you’re entering a new environment.

Even leaving a room is a Transition Period. The brain essentially erases the information related to the previous environment and begin processing the information for the new environment. This is known as the “doorway effect“. If you ever forget something when changing rooms, you’ve experienced the power of context to the brain. The more that the new room varies from the last, the more this effect will occur.

Analogy

Here’s an analogy: Light at the End of the Tunnel.

Light at the end of the tunnel when returning to work after quarantine

When you enter a dark room, your eyes have to adjust, after a while, you can see a bit better. But, when you leave the dark room, your eyes must readjust to the light once more.

The Transition Period of entering the dark is what has been emphasized during the “working from home” craze.

Now, there is a new Transition Period that can’t be overlooked: returning to the light.

MaxedOut

Here is the behavior pattern of most people. They experience a hardship, the hardship passes, they feel brief relief, and they never think about the experience again. They may even pretend it never happened. This is a mistake. Reflection is the key to learning. With reflection, you find many opportunities to improve and ways to add meaning to the experience.

I am here to say that it is NOT too late. Returning to the workplace after quarantine is just beginning, you now have the opportunity to make the most of it. Read on for how.

Transition Periods and the Practical

When you return to work after quarantine, you will be going through a Transition Period. But what makes this important? What can you do?

Transition Periods are opportunities, they provide the easiest way to build and break habits. It is like a fresh start. For example, consider the habit of frequently going to the kitchen for a treat at a specific time. Moving to a new house gives you the opportunity to set up your environment to make breaking this habit easier.

Environment cues play one of the LARGEST roles in triggering behavior patterns. The implications of this cannot be overstated.

Take some time to reflect on habits that you built the last time you worked in the office. Which ones did you not like? Which ones were unproductive? What new habits do you want to build? Decide, with intention, on how you want to improve during this “second chance”.

It may have been months since you’ve last interacted with some of your coworkers. This makes habits that involve interacting with coworkers and option for easy change during this Transition Period. They won’t remember your personality in the same clarity that they did before working from home during quarantine. You can utilize this opportunity to decide how you really want to interact with your coworkers. How do you want to be seen by others in the office?

Going Deeper

There are a LOT of opportunities during Transition Periods, they are the most powerful way to influence behavior change. This is why there are so many “milestones” in life that are emphasized. From graduations to new jobs, moving houses, marriage, and turning 18/21. These moments are made memorable. You have to be intentional. They have a similar impact to sticking a stake in the ground and distinguishing between “old me” and “new me”.

Each location in the world will emphasize different Transition Periods. But there has always been some form of them, as is evident throughout history.

Tribes also use Transition Periods. Challenge is given to the young or some other environmental change is emphasized. This is often used to mark “going into man-hood”, or “becoming a mother”. Although, the labor of giving birth is a built-in Transition Period by nature. All the hormones and the life-changing experience of birth encouraging you to treat that child with love! Before you weren’t, but now you are a mother.

All that makes Transition Periods work is the interpretation the brain makes given the environmental cues. This means you can create Transition Periods for anything, it just comes down to the meaning you apply them. Check out Chip and Dan Heath’s WONDERFUL book “The Power of Moments”. It goes in depth on how to emphasize a moment to make it a more powerful Transition Period.

You can read all about Transition Periods in my posts:

Afterword

Thank you for reading!

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