• Team Furlonteer

3 tips on how to manage returning from furlough

Many of us are finding it hard coming back from furlough. In a guest post, Furlonteer Lizzie Fenwick says this is natural and offers tips on how to manage the transition back into work...

Returning from Furlough: Lizzie Fenwick

Being furloughed is not a paid holiday

When I was furloughed in early April I was told that I should expect to be back to the (home) office within two months. Three months and one week later, I logged back onto my work computer and had to try and make sense of what had happened in my absence.

Contrary to what many may believe, being furloughed is not a paid holiday.

From day one, there are worries about whether your job will still be there to go back to. There is the stress of being stuck inside your home without even work to distract you from the creeping uncertainty. And there is the fear of the biggest global pandemic in most of our lifetimes.

We discovered how to be busy with nothing to do.

For some, they were given no idea of when they might return to work, so instead were facing each day with decreasing drive and increasing dread. The psychological toll of furlough has made an already isolating experience feel even more solitary.

It wasn’t all terrible though. Some of us were able to find volunteer positions that kept our minds occupied and kept our hands from being idle. We discovered new hobbies, made time for old ones. We read books, watched movies, learnt languages, decorated our homes, reinvigorated our gardens, laughed with our loved ones, and discovered how to be busy with nothing to do.

READ MORE: Lizzie's Furlonteering experience with Brain and Spine Foundation

Returning from furlough can be jarring

While others have been developing a work-from-home setup, evolving their routine, and settling into this new normal, those of us returning from furlough have been thrown back to square one. Only this time it comes off the back of a months-long separation from ‘work-life’ and the expectations that come along with it.

I want to tell those of you that are not settling straight back in that you are not alone.

There are huge sections of the British workforce (and beyond) for whom the ‘new normal’ has been completely thrown up into the air once again.

Don’t worry about trying to make up those lost months in the coming days and weeks, instead focus on what you need from your organisation moving forward.

Whether you find yourself struggling to push yourself to your meet your old ‘normal’ deadlines, or are surprised that you still seem to be unable to perfect that work/life balance even though most of your un-furloughed colleagues seem to have everything sorted, this is perfectly normal. Life wasn’t paused when furlough began. Our places of work continued to develop and find a new rhythm that you might be three or four months behind on.

Three steps to help you cope with returning from furlough

Don’t worry about trying to make up those lost months in the coming days and weeks, instead focus on what you need from your organisation moving forward.

- Have honest conversations with your employers about your concerns and difficulties, they are there to support you!

- Talk to your colleagues about where you are struggling and ask what they did to make working from home earlier.

- Finally, don’t compare your lockdown experience or your progress to those of others.

While we are ‘all in this together’, the ways in which we have experienced the last few months vary massively. If you focus on yourself and your own journey, you’ll find that eventually, you will find your own new ‘new normal’.

As well as offering your skills to a good cause, signing up to Furlonteer also means you can access great resources from our community and partners. These include an exclusive networking group on LinkedIn and two free coaching sessions with our partners Support Haven.

Check out our resources page for more information or sign up now

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