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  • Writer's pictureLoen Miles

Returning to work - are you a Cheerio, Crunchy Nut or Frostie?

How are you feeling? Have you been asked to return to the office yet? Or perhaps been offered the opportunity to start using the office again following months of being in your working from home bubble, or in furloughed freedom?

It's potentially a daunting removal from what we have all come accustomed to; the protected home bubble of colourful safety and security, about to be popped by the reality of a return to work...while wearing a face-mask!

As we veer towards this move, we need to support one another, maintaining respect, patience and open minds. To do this we need to recognise some of the different approaches our friends and colleagues might have here. Below I have covered just three 'types' of reaction, and somewhat tenuously related them to, yes, you guessed it, cereals!

Are you excited, happy, carefree and quite cheery on the prospect of a work return to near normal? Do you thrill at the prospect of seeing your colleagues IN THE FLESH, face to face, no virtual?! AKA, The Cheerio!

Or perhaps you're a little freaked by the idea of being around people again? Perhaps, in close proximity, will you be a little 'crunchy' with your colleagues if they dare get too close (and you consider too close to be within twenty-five meters)? AKA the Crunchy Nut!

Or are you somewhat resentful towards the business for asking you back? Is this move way too early and totally unacceptable in your view, are you a Frostie to the new norms?

Well, which ever cereal bowl you fall into - perhaps you're even a cereal mix - I have some advice to help you get through, support your colleagues and engage in the new normal face-mask wearing workforce.

For the Cheerios amongst us, be patient with others.

For some, change comes easy, for others it's yet more trauma amidst the mayhem that has been COVID life. If change is easy for you and you find you go with the flow, be considerate of those around you and their fears and concerns. Listen, support and be patient. This time will bring with it anxiety for some, and they will need your compassion and patience to get through. If you have coping mechanisms you use to get through, share these with others, explore how you can help them.

For the Crunchy Nuts, challenge your thoughts.

Be honest with yourself about the reality of the situation. Are your thoughts rational, or are they bred from fear? Yes, we do need to be cautious and yes, we do need to be aware of the risks. There are risks crossing the road however, in driving a car and many other acts we do every day without much thought. Weigh the risks with the reality that we cannot remain shut-down forever. Most of us are not in front-line positions, and as long as we maintain distance, cleanliness and consideration, we are most likely going to be OK.

For the Frosties in the field, be open.

Explore your feelings and thoughts around this, as with Crunchy Nuts, be honest with yourself. Is your concern a reality or a fear based reaction to the situation? Are you prepared to be open to new ideas or is that just not possible right now? Of course, it's fine if not, some are just not ready to face the new normal quite yet. The whole world shut down for months, that doesn't happen for no reason and going back out there may be just too daunting. It's important to avoid resenting your employer for asking you back though, the fact is they have little choice in the matter if you're unable to work from home - businesses simply can't continue not producing or serving etc. so they have to move on.

For those who remain in their cereal bowls, try talking to your employer about what can be done to alleviate your concerns, go in with queries and any possible solutions you can think of. Between you I am sure you can find a balanced reality to enable safe all-round solutions.

Please share ideas below on what your employers are doing to support you, what more would you like them to do and what other ideas do you have that could support other people in their roles? We need to work together, as a society, to help one another through, what has clearly been, one of the strangest times in most of our lives.

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