Do you remember how hard it was to return to work in the New Year? After a few days, possibly a couple of weeks, of unrestricted feasting and relaxing with family and loved ones, returning to work seemed boring and dull in the cold, dark blah of January. Like everyone else, whose memories of the hope and joy of the pre-festive season is fading into the distance, you wished you could have a little longer at home.
Come March 23rd, you suddenly realised that 2020 might turn into a lesson in “be careful what you wish for”. And by June, with all family relationships close to breaking point, everyone was positively desperate to return to work. The prospect of going back to the office was faced with a markedly different attitude to the one experienced when returning to work in January, and people now relish it. Maybe not with the same excitement that they had for their Christmas break, but certainly with a sense of adventure that was previously lacking in the usual 9-5.
Because now, after months of lockdown, many companies are putting in place Covid safe measures to allow people to safely return to work, which is making the workplace seem vastly different. And workers are slowly trickling back, depending on the Covid alert level of their area of course. The guidelines are clear and simple, “Work from home if you can, but also go to work depending on where in the country you are.” How can anyone be confused?
It’s not all bad though. Thankfully, the tedium of the commute has also been eliminated. Not only is it now punctuated by so many squirts of hand sanitiser that your hands end up feeling like they’re covered in jam, you also now get to play a fun game of “How Well Do You Really Know Your Colleagues?” by seeing if you can recognise them from their eyes alone. You smile exaggeratedly under your mask to a fellow commuter just in case it’s Barry from Accounts. And if it’s not, you hope your eyes look friendly at least.
Arriving at work isn’t the same as it was either. Rather than simply entering work, you now must complete the Crystal Maze just to get through the door. Firstly, you’ll be accosted by a junior staff member wielding a thermometer and a clipboard, and you can’t help but wonder if the fact that you ran from the tube station will mean that your temperature will come out higher than it really is, leading to an anxious few seconds wait for the result. Test passed; you’ll then be asked several tricky questions… “Do you have a new, continuous cough?” Does choking on my cornflakes this morning count? “Have you noticed a change in your sense of taste or smell?” You wildly search your brain for any indication of a shift in any of your senses. “Have you had a high temperature?” Not unless I’ve been running, no. “Have you been around anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus in the last 14 days?” Does standing behind them in the queue at Tesco count? “Have you travelled outside the UK in the last 14 days?” Chance would be a fine thing.
OK, you passed all the tests and with a compulsory squirt of hand sanitiser (your hands now have such a thick coating of sticky stuff that they’re attracting wasps), you’re in!
But while it feels good to be back in the office you quickly realise that everything also feels, different. While you used to sit in a nice trio of people, the desks are now separated by the obligatory 2 metre distance, so you can’t share covert conversations without shouting over to the next desk.
There are arrows indicating the one-way system stuck to the floor in hazard warning tape, so everywhere now looks like the scene of a crime, and there’s hand sanitiser literally everywhere. The toilet operates in a one in one out fashion, which means that timing becomes everything.
To top it all off, you haven’t completed a full week’s work since your return. Every time someone you know tests positive you must get another test and wait at home for the result, leading to a minimum two days off work every time, and that’s if you test negative. No one seems to really understand the rules, just when you think you’ve got a handle on them there’s another change. What if someone you know was around someone, they know who was at a place where someone tested positive, where exactly does the chain end?
This is the reality we’re now living in, and while we’ve attempted here to make well needed light of the changes to our working lives, we at JMK understand how stressful this time is for our partners. We are here to provide help and support wherever possible, so do feel free to get in touch to discuss any concerns you have about creating a Covid safe workplace.
The office, agency, site or school might now look vastly different due to pandemic safety measures, but ultimately the people are the same.
And look on the bright side, the January blues might now become a thing of the past because we now know that staying at home really isn’t all its cracked up to be.
Welcome back to work, we wish you a healthy, safe and prosperous reopening.
Since 2002, JMK have been compliantly consolidating back-office, accountancy and payroll functions.
We have evolved to provide a range of expert services; such as Professional Employer Organisation (PEO), or Back Office Support (BOS) or Funding, becoming a leading provider to the contracting industry.
We know every agency is different in some shape or form, even if only by a little, but important bit. Combining our knowledge and experience of multiple sectors enables JMK to support you all from recruiters and payroll, through to finance, compliance and management.
With JMK as your trusted partner, even the smallest team can process the largest payroll, regardless of payroll type.