8 Ways To Make Your Mark At Work Post-Furlough | sheerluxe.com
By the end of June, it was estimated a record 9.3m people – around one-quarter of the UK workforce – had been furloughed. If you’re returning to work – and are going back having taken a bit of a blow to your confidence – here’s how to make your mark and get back into the swing of things.
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TAKE TIME TO REFLECT

Just because you’re ‘back to normal’ doesn’t mean everything is as it once was. In fact, experts say it’s a good idea to take a step back and reflect on everything that’s happened before diving back in to ensure you have clarity and peace of mind. “In those first days back at work it’s worth reflecting back on the day or the elements of the day that you’ve found useful or that you’ve enjoyed,” says Richard Reid, psychologist and founder of Pinnacle Therapy. “This will help gather momentum and reconfigure the overriding view that we have of this experience – it doesn't mean that suddenly work will become your favourite thing again, but it might help make a return to work feel a little bit more manageable.”

CHECK IN

On your first day back, whether it be in the office or WFH, business coach Vonnie Alexander advises checking in with your immediate managers to get up to speed. She explains: “You’re trying to feel your way around the business and to reconnect on every level, so check in with what’s been going on in the wider business. How is everything going? What’s been good and what’s been challenging about the last few months? What’s changed? Understand what the expectations are around working from home versus working in the office. What are the new protocols and behaviours you need to be aware of when in work?” 

ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

While it’s totally reasonable to expect your manager to brief you on your return, it’s important to have some questions ready to ensure you cover the bases and know where you stand. “A good manager will have thought about how to re-allocate work to anyone who is returning from furlough,” confirms Vonnie. “Ask questions specific to the work you are being tasked with, especially around your responsibilities and key milestones. You may find your role has shifted and that more is expected of you. More than anything, it’s important for you to have clarity – what’s being entrusted to you and what are you accountable for? Other questions will help you go further if the scope to do so is there, so consider asking, ‘What can I do that will make the biggest difference to the business/project/to you?’ or ‘What else/more can I do to help?’”

COMMUNICATE & RE-CONNECT WITH ENTHUSIASM

Vonnie also says it’s worth trying to communicate your enthusiasm to be back – just remember to balance that with explaining how you’ve kept busy during your time on furlough. “It doesn’t all have to be about sourdough or banana bread – make sure you can make sense of your time out and build the narrative you wish to share,” she advises. “Also, try to find ways to connect with people now you’re back. This could be people you work with directly or indirectly. Ask how they have been. Everyone’s experience of lockdown will have been unique, so be sure to check in with others with sensitivity.”

ESTABLISH A NEW STRUCTURE

Getting your mind back into ‘work mode’ is crucial to making a good impression on your return – not to mention catching up with a potential backlog of work. “It’s really about putting some routines in place,” says Richard. “The most obvious way to do that is to get back into a habit of getting up at a certain time and going to bed at a certain time. Also, for those working from home, put a stricter structure in place around the hours you work, so you start to get into a habit of how it will be. Another thing that may help is to start to dress in your typical work attire again. For many people putting on their work attire is like wearing a uniform – it helps us to get back into that mindset. These structures start to work like going back to the gym again, getting those mental muscles back into the habit of operating in that way.”

GET BACK IN TOUCH – SENSITIVELY

When getting back in touch with relevant parties – specifically clients – it’s important to express how pleased you are to be back, says Vonnie. Just remember to be sensitive to any personal situations which might be developing in the background. “Ask how they have been – you don’t know what your clients’ experiences of lockdown has been. They may have suffered personal tragedy or loss of income, so it’s important to proceed with a balance of sensitivity and enthusiasm.”

GO ABOVE AND BEYOND

If you’re trying to make a good impression on your return, Vonnie agrees it’s important to demonstrate your willingness to go above and beyond – just be genuine about it. “It can’t be for the sake of it, nor to the detriment of your health and well-being,” she warns. “Going above and beyond doesn’t have to mean more hours. It could just mean working smarter, being more proactive, anticipating needs and overcoming obstacles. As we continue to work from home, and start working in more of a hybrid way, we need to continue to check that the boundaries of work and life are not being overstepped.”

HAVE CONFIDENCE

While it can feel like an uncertain time at work – even if your employer has taken you off furlough – it’s important to remember they haven’t made you redundant for a reason. “It’s because the business needs you and your skills,” says Vonnie. “Try to return with confidence in your abilities and the contributions you make. You might be very grateful to have a role when so many others are losing jobs and facing the prospect of long-term unemployment, but that’s no reason to lose sight of what is reasonable and sensible.”

 

Richard Reid is a psychologist, author and founder of Pinnacle Therapy. Vonnie Alexander is a business coach, a qualified Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) practitioner and a graduate of The Coaches Training Institute (CTI). Find out more at IAmVonnieAlexander.com

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