Released On 3rd Aug 2021
Sonya’s Blog: Returning to the office after a pandemic
When I returned to work after having my son in 2016, I found the process really stressful and upsetting. I had just over a year off work, and I had an amazing time on maternity leave. Whilst being a first time mum was daunting at times, having a year off was a real privilege and a year of my life which I will always cherish.
However, I did not plan or make any preparations for my return to work. I had not completed any KIT (keeping in touch) days with work, and whilst I did go into the office once in February 2016 for my work colleagues to meet my son, I had not been in the office. This was my choice. The thought of leaving my son, and the commute into London, it felt too much to cope with.
When I did return to work both my son and I found the transition very hard, and my son did struggle at nursery without me, and I too found it very hard, leaving him and then getting on a train to go to work. My manager, and his team, were very supportive and allowed me to settle back into work at my pace, which helped immensely. I think without that support, I would have given up and resigned.
The nursery was also very supportive to me and my son, in helping us make the transition. However, whilst it was a tough path to take, I think we are both better off for having taken it. My son ended his nursery journey in 2020, and he was a confident, happy boy who thoroughly enjoyed his time there.
So, when my employer made plans for us to return to the office in September 2021, I felt that I had to take positive steps to ensure that my return to the office after the pandemic went a lot smoother than my return to work after maternity leave.
I have been working from home since March 2020, and I felt I was like a lot of other people nervous and anxious about returning to the office. I decided to arrange to go into the office in July 2021, for the day, so that I could acclimatise myself to commuting, being in London again, and back in the office. The day went very well, and I felt positive for taking this step, as it has allayed any concerns or fears I may have. I have also been back in London for a second time to meet up with my team for a drink and food outside. It was a real treat to see my work colleagues in person who I have not seen for over a year, only via video calls. I am also planning to have one more trip up to London in August to help me with one final visit before the return to work in the office in September. This preparation has allowed me to focus on the positives of returning to the office. After what has been a rollercoaster of time during this pandemic, it will allow us to reconnect with our work colleagues in person, and hopefully take a positive step forward.
Sonya, 42, works three days a week as a Personal Assistant within the legal sector. She lives in Kent with her husband, 5 year old son.