Adapting to the normal: returning to working life wearing reusable face masks
Lockdown affected us all differently, but it’s highly likely that most of us will find the transition back to the workplace strange, especially if you have been on furlough for a long time. As new regulations for infection control come into place, such as the fact that face coverings like reusable face masks will be commonplace in many industries, it may take a little time to adjust to the new normal. Here are some of the best ways to keep yourself physically and mentally well back at the workplace.
Make sure you know what might be different before your first day back and don’t be afraid to ask questions such as: will any parts of your building be closed off; how many colleagues might be in at one time; and if your standard working hours may change during this transition period. Consider your journey to work too; if you travel by bus or train, don’t forget face coverings are now compulsory on public transport in England, so make sure you remember to bring your reusable face mask. If you are considering temporarily driving instead of using public transport, plan your route and check where to park ahead of your journey to take any unnecessary stress out of your first day back.
Adjusting to every day with reusable face masks
It can feel odd at first, but after a while, wearing a reusable face mask regularly should begin to feel normal. Ensure your face mask fully covers your mouth and nose whilst still being able to breathe comfortably. Before putting on and removing your mask, wash your hands with soap and water, or use gel sanitiser and once it is in place, do not touch the front of the covering of the mask or the rest of your face. When you arrive home from work and take your mask off, either secure it tightly in a plastic bag until you can wash it, or put it straight in the wash with standard detergent.
How you can help to manage infection control
Whilst your workplace should be putting in place additional cleaning measures to keep the building and staff safe, there are plenty of ways you can ensure you stay safe when returning to work. Keep hand sanitiser on your person and use it after coming through shared touchpoints (for example door handles) if you aren’t able to wash your hands with soap and water afterwards. Keep antibacterial wipes to hand as well to wipe down your desk, keyboard and computer screen regularly, and where possible, use the same desk and don’t share it with other colleagues.
Think as well about some of your normal ways of working and what could change to help you and your colleagues maintain social distancing. For example, if there are external clients you would normally meet in person, stick to video calls for the time being to reduce the risk of spreading any infections.
Speak up if concerned!
If you have any concerns, absolutely raise them with your line manager. Your employer has a duty of care for their staff by law, and chances are, if something doesn’t feel right to you, it won’t to other people either. You won’t be seen as having a negative attitude, you will be seen as being proactive on safety and sometimes things simply get missed that have a quick fix, so speak up if you need to.
Allow yourself to feel nervous
It is completely normal to feel anxious about returning to work after a period of furlough in a global pandemic! It might take a little while to settle into your new way of working, so be kind and patient with yourself whilst you adjust.