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Returning To Work

The past year has been different for us all! Suddenly working from home, no more face to face meetings with learners in their workplace, with who we have established good relationships, no office contact with the people that support us. Fortunately, we have all proven adaptable and proactive when dealing with change, that’s a side effect of working in education. We ensured continued support and learning by a variety of means, phone calls, texts, work being posted, Zoom and Teams Meetings and adapted our dining room, kitchen, spare room into a home office.

During this time we have learnt and developed new ways of working, checked in on others to make sure they are looking after their wellbeing, whether that has been learners or other members of staff. The buzzword of the past year seems to be ‘resilience’, and that is something that we all have developed in one way or another, without even realising it. It is well known that being together makes us stronger, no matter what form and the relationships that we built between us all meant that we came out of the crisis and became more resilient than we were before.

However, we quickly adapted to a way of life and environment previously unknown and unheard of, and we made a success out of it, we kept going and overcome the obstacles in our path. Team resilience is a team’s ability to come together and overcome adversity and that is what we did and also to continue to perform after the crisis by supporting each other.

Our learners kept on learning and reaching the end of their apprenticeship and success rates have been amazing with a high percentage of distinctions achieved at End Point Assessment. A huge achievement for all those involved.

As we move slowly out of lockdown and back out into the workplace there are things that we will be thinking about that we once would never have given a second thought to. How are you feeling about returning to work, being in a space with other people, working in a noisier/busier environment, coming across people we haven’t met before…..

The key to this is to remember you can still have support in what you are doing and you can control some of the things that will be starting to happen. One example is visiting other workplaces which you haven’t been to for the past year. Plan dates in advance, make sure you are not cramming too much into your schedule so you are not also worried about travel times and traffic delays, make first visits to organisations that you have visited before and are familiar and comfortable with the surroundings, and make sure you take yourself some refreshments and PPE.

The main thing to consider is that there will be hundreds, thousands of people who will be having similar feelings as lockdown starts to ease and the best way to deal with this is to talk to someone and share ideas and experiences. As a team we have been talking about this for some time and are looking forward to seeing each other in the office again, getting back out there and seeing learners face to face but at the same time conscious that this will feel quite strange for some people.

At our centres we have been following Covid-19 protocol and checking and recording our temperature on arrival, wearing a face mask whilst moving around the building, using the hand sanitiser stations and we were also issued with the lateral flow tests to ensure we were safe and felt comfortable working in the offices.

It's about change, moving forward but many of us will have a little fear, reluctance and uncertainty of the upcoming changes. This is more likely if you have found some aspects of the lockdown positive for your wellbeing. Being at home meant that a different routine was created which for the most part we had control over, as a new routine is about to be established it’s important to keep the structure and control the things you can, rather than the things that you can’t. Remember you discovered a whole new way of being during lockdown, resilience was abundant and that resilience will help you through the next steps.

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