How To Return To The Workplace Post-Lockdown Without Acting Like A Total Rookie

By Rick Stephens
14th Oct 2021

A person working on a computer by an office window. The afternoon sun is shining through.

For most of Australia, some sort of normalcy has returned to the day-to-day. Nabbing a coffee, and even sitting down to enjoy it, before that 9am is now plausible, crossing into another postcode is an acceptable act and even the damn pub is (sort of) open for a knock-off. Next step is the grand return to the office, but what will that look like after months chained to your desk from the confines of your own home?

To answer that question, and more, we enlisted careers brains-trust Lachlan Bradford and Robbie Hicks, a recruiter and a productivity coach respectively, and hosts of arguably the most entertaining professional podcast Funny Business.

So, Australia is slowly returning to the workplace. What do you think will be some of the biggest changes in a post-COVID workplace?

The biggest challenge is adjusting to a new reality. It will be common for teams to be a mix of remote and from the office where possible. This in itself brings challenges. How do you keep team cohesion and common understanding with a mix of people in the office and some people remote? How will companies invest in their workplace technology to enable a mix of teams working in person and remotely?

The return to the office will most likely be staggered. What can people do to prep for their return?

Talk with their teams, understand what is important to them in their schedules. Don’t rush back to just doing what you used to do. COVID has given organisations an opportunity for change and disruption. Advice would be to think about what you want for your day. Think about outcomes rather than output. The days of the 9-5 should be no more.

Many of us have been in lockdown for quite some time now. Do you think some will take a while to readjust to being around people?

Be prepared to be tired. Ease back in. Be kind to yourself. 

Any pointers on what will likely be the new office etiquette?

I think co-working spaces are a scary sight. Also, open planned offices. I see offices being used as hubs — where teams have coordinated days where they meet in person. It’s used for work-shopping and collaboration. I see companies downsizing their offices and encouraging more staff to work remotely.

This will understandably affect productivity, too. Any tips on getting your head back in the game while juggling that readjustment?

Again, be kind. Focus on outcomes rather than output. Remove the waste from your day. If a task or activity doesn’t provide any value, see if you can stop doing it. Otherwise, ensure you keep new activities like exercise, learning and fun part of your normal routine. Keep the activities in your schedule that gives you energy… you are going to need it. Other than that, drink a can of V and smash it out.

Some going back to work might be starting a new gig after shifts and redundancies within many businesses. What will starting a new job look like in a post-COVID world?

I think a new job and the world has already changed. Remote working will become part of the norm. People may have to get used to starting a new job and the potential of never meeting their team in real life. Get your head around tools like zoom and MS teams. Understand that the new reality will rely heavily on technology adoption and familiarity with using tools. Nothing a few YouTube tutorials couldn’t fix.

Any words of wisdom for those still on the hunt for a new gig during what is hopefully the latter end of the pandemic?

Find your strengths and network, network, network. Don’t just tell people why you are good. Show them. Produce a portfolio or body of work over a few dot points on a CV. Get creative. Think outside the box. Research on side hustles. Don’t sit at home and expect the work to come to you, it just won’t. Go and find it.

Tap into more career advice by giving Funny Business, and other career-focused podcasts here.

Image credit: Simon Abrams

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