(HealthNewsDigest.com) – When we think about the term re-entry – what picture comes to mind? I think of the astronauts returning from outer space. That is how it may feel for some folks right now. We have been living in a world we have not quite been accustomed to and for some, we may feel a bit off balance. The discussions around returning to the workplace have centered around safety and procedural matters to effectively address health and the work environment. My time in the military where I re-entered my past life after a period of prolonged deployment has taught me a few things that might be valuable in addition to the procedural playbook on returning to work.
First, a new normal was created when we left. We must be sensitive to the folks who remained to “keep things going”. Remember, in many workplaces across the globe the entire building was not shut down. This is especially true for large organizations. Certain job functions were deemed to be essential and they remained while others left. Those who stayed have already adapted to a new normal. They may also feel a bit of anxiety with your arrival back to the workplace. There may even be a bit of resentment that you “left” and they had to “stay behind”. This brings me to the second lesson.
Re-entry means change and change always places increased demands and thus increased stress. We may want to go back to exactly the way it was but that is not reality nor is it advisable. We should slow down and be aware of how things are evolving. We need to listen and observe for signs of difficulty. Because perception is our reality we must communicate -both to solicit information as well as listen and share. Re-entry will require us to check our assumptions by validating what we believe to be true. It will require even more communication and openness.
Re-entry is necessary. There has been a very personal approach to adjusting to uncertainty over the past weeks and months. Just as some may want to just rip the “band-aid” off and get on with the way things were, others may never want the “band-aid” to be removed – to keep things as protected as possible. To use the space analogy I began with we cannot orbit forever. We must find a middle ground and we must be sensitive to the individual nature of risk. But we must re-enter.
Finally, we must realize that not all will re-enter successfully. My time in the military has taught me that not all successfully re-enter. Unfortunately, there are some soldiers who struggle with re-entry, and that is something we have to understand. We must be prepared to help those who will struggle in the “new normal”. We must plan for this and decide how to support individuals if they do not successfully re-enter the workplace. There are several reasons for this – the obvious ones deal with the change in job requirements or the financial pressures placed on the company. However, others will be based on a personal health assessment where the risk is deemed unacceptable at the individual level. Much like those soldiers, people struggling with re-entry should consult with experts and seek therapy to help them cope with the changes.
Organizations should not minimize the stress forces at work as we re-enter an environment that we have left and orbited for so long. The good news is the vast majority of missions are successful and we can have a successful re-entry if we thoughtfully plan, communicate, and respond to what will be needed.