Returning to work after a break can be daunting. You may have had time off due to raising a family, maternity leave or ill health. Even a few months off can seem like a long time, and leave you feeling out of the loop. If you've been away from the workplace for years then it's an even greater challenge. Here are some tips on returning to work after a break …
1. Be Committed
If you're returning to work after a break, you should be committed to the idea. If you're a new parent, economics may have forced you back to work when you'd prefer to be at home with your baby. But however hard it is, you should make the most of the situation and focus on your work when you're in the office. Otherwise you'll just be miserable all the time.
There may have been changes made in your workplace even if you've only been away a few months. Find out what these changes are and what they mean to your job. It may be useful to have a meeting with your boss and discuss any changes that have been implemented during your absence. Also talk to your co-workers and ask them to bring you up to date on what you've missed.
3. Adapt to the Change
Going from not working to working can be quite a shock and take some getting used to. You'll need some time to get used to your workload and having a timetable again, so expect it to feel strange for a while; you'll settle in to your routine again in good time.
4. Ask for Support
It may not be all that easy to go back to work, even if you're returning to your old job after a break. Don't be afraid to ask for support from your boss and your co-workers. This is particularly important if you have medical issues that kept you away from work. Do your employers have an occupational health adviser? If so, they can help ease you back into work.
5. Flexible Working
It may be useful to ask about flexible working arrangements if you've been off work on maternity leave or through ill health. Employers may be more accommodating than you'd think. You may be able to work the hours when you feel most capable, or begin with working part-time hours, then build up to full-time hours again. Ask if they can be flexible.
6. Update Skills
After a longer break, your skills may be out of date, so bring them up to date. Some industries are fast-moving, so doing a course will help refresh your knowledge. After a longer break you will probably benefit from learning new skills. Your employer may be willing to fund study and training that will be of benefit to them as well.
7. Use What You've Learned
Just because you've been away from paid work doesn't mean that you've wasted the time. You will have acquired transferable skills that you can use at work. Have you been traveling? You've learned languages and how to cope in a new environment. If you've been raising your children you've learned how to budget, multi-task and organise.
When you go back to work, expect it to take some time to adapt. You will get used to work again, so don't be anxious. Would you like to take a career break - what would you use it for?