As we go back to work, we will all experience some emotion around the changes in our workplace. And, although we know that changes in how we interact with others must happen, it still affects us. We have gone through an experience that has never happened in our lifetime, nor that of our parents, and for some our grandparents. The anxiety and apprehension that is part of returning to a familiar place, with different circumstances, like all changes, can have a psychological effect that is subtle and invisible.
When you can’t change the direction of the wind — adjust your sails
We not only need to be gentle with ourselves, but also provide a safe space for those who work with us. Often the psychological impact of change and transition need understanding. All of us will be grieving in some way for what used to be. Having a thoughtful well thought our plan, of not only how our return to work will look like but also with the understanding that we will all experience this semblance of normalcy, differently. Some will find it more difficult to return than others.
Stages of Transition
Ed Kelly, in his Third Act (thethirdact.ie) work talks of the five stages and thresholds of transition: The Wake up, the Search, the Struggle, the Breakthrough and the Integration. Certainly many of us can relate to at least the first two stages… we may still be struggling to get to the breakthrough, while moving to integration.
How we work with others going through the change and transition that occurs now, will support us in the long run. As we move through grieving, some will come to a place of uncertainty, maybe even fear, and that’s okay. This uncertainly can lead to a surge of renewal and innovation, and we need to be you attuned to each person we work with, show understanding of their transition and continue to support them. It is vital for the future of our organizations that there is acknowledgement of each persons’ needs as they move forward in their transition. Patience yes, but it is essential that each of us be allowed to move forward at our own pace.
Acknowledging that the ‘old’ ways of doing business are gone, and that new ways of being must take their place. Participating in the renewal process, how we are going to do business, might be helpful for some. Too, as we all begin to demonstrate our acceptance, even embracing these new modes of doing business, it is important for us all to mark and celebrate each step in the right direction
We may believe we have not been affected by the changes taking place, that we’re ‘okay’. However we have all been affected by COVID-19 and the courageous amongst us will also admit and accept that we have challenges and may need support. As leaders and co-workers we need to ask ourselves questions:
How is this change, return to work affecting my mental health?
What are the things I need to work through my fears/anxiety?
What can I do to help my team/coworkers?
We’re happy to resume normal activities, and yet how we are resuming is different, and the impact of transitioning to a new way of being requires some internal work for each of us
“It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions. Change is not the same as transition. Change is situational: the new site, the new boss, the new team roles, the new policy. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal.” (William Bridges, Transitions, Making Sense of Life’s Changes)
Help is there
Help is there, and if you need support, contact us – we can support you in putting your own return to work plan in place.