The ‘new new’ normal – will it ever be the same as the ‘old’ normal?
In England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson aims to lift all coronavirus lockdown restrictions by June 21. North of the border, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced towards the end of February that gradual easing of the stay-at-home rules could begin in Scotland from April 5. In Northern Ireland, lockdown continues until April 1 at the time of writing, with gradual emergence from it expected beyond that date. Wales (again, at the time of writing) was only looking a few weeks ahead and hadn’t yet published an official route to ending the limitations on daily life.
It’s still not clear when ‘non-essential’ offices will be reopening to staff – and it’s important to remember that the dates above are the earliest possible ones, with caution employed to avoid further restrictions.
However, the likelihood is that more workers will be heading back to their office desks in the weeks and months ahead, at least on a part-time basis. If working from home was a big change for those who were usually based elsewhere, the return to office life (the ‘new new normal’, perhaps?) could also take some getting used to, especially initially. So a period of adjustment may well be needed.
And while the end of homeschooling will undoubtedly bring relief to many parents, you could find yourself dealing once more with a lengthy commute when for the past year or so, the most you’ve had to negotiate was a set of stairs or a short stroll along your own hallway.
Equally, the reopening of coffee shops and libraries, and the chance to meet study buddies, could provide access once more to an invaluable support system. Overall, however, you may find there is less flexibility for studying.
Given all the inevitable changes, how do you revert to a semblance of your old routine? How might it feel different? And what can you do to make the transition as smooth and hassle-free as possible?The return to office life could also take some getting used to. Here are some ideas on what you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible. Click To Tweet
It’s good to talk…
… as that old BT advert used to say. Stay in close contact with your colleagues, line manager, tutors, and fellow students. You don’t even need to discuss anything specific – sometimes it’s just nice to check in and say hello.
Coronavirus and lockdown have affected everyone in different ways. Ask others how they are feeling, and share how you are, too. Be clear and open with your employer about what you need from them to balance work and study in the weeks and months ahead.
In the spirit of this, rather than returning to work as though the last 12 months haven’t happened, have a good conversation with your line manager before setting foot back in the office. Identify priorities and raise any concerns. If you feel it would help, have a ‘dry run’ and rehearse the conversation first with someone you trust.
Good planning is key
As is so often the case, preparation is everything. Think about what may need to change in order for you to balance your studying and working. Is there anything you will need to do differently at home or at work in order to achieve your goals? How might your daily routine be different from what we now only half-jokingly refer to as ‘the before times’?
One step at a time
If there’s one certainty, it’s that the days ahead are likely to bring continued change, so you’ll almost certainly need to keep on adjusting. Manage your expectations and don’t expect a speedy return to ‘normal’ – things probably won’t go seamlessly to plan from day one. Take each day, week, and month as it comes, and feel a sense of achievement about getting through each one.
Assess, review – and repeat
Ask yourself regularly how you are coping and check in with others frequently, not just on the first day back. Speak up if you think anything can be done better or if you require any additional support.
Finally, gruelling as the effects of the pandemic and lockdown continue to be, remember they could ultimately provide a chance to reassess and do things differently – maybe even better.