Returning to work after (or during) COVID-19

I guess we can’t say after Coronavirus yet, because we are amid the pandemic. Still, many of us are being called back to work.

If you are planning to go back to work soon, after months of being gone, it’s understandable that you may feel nervous or a little rusty.

You are going out into a world that is vastly different from what it was just a few weeks ago.

You may want to go back to work with health, safety, and social distancing in mind. Analyze what you can do to keep yourself, people, you interact with, and your family safe. It may feel a little odd wiping down everything, but a little prevention can go a long way.

Last week I had to go into the office for the first time in over a month and a half. I only had to return for one day, but it felt like a dress rehearsal for my near future.

It was a bit odd, and although I felt prepared in the morning, there were lots of, “I should have” moments.

It reminded me about going to work after maternity leave, if that is the case for you here are 16 Tips for a Successful Return to Work After Maternity Leave.

Now, below are some quick tips and things you can do to do to prepare for your smart and safe return to work. 

1. Be prepared for things to be different at work and outside of your home

What we know as normal before a national emergency was declared is no longer the case. We were used to doing things one way, and now they are going to be another.

We live in a time where shaking hands is taboo.

Your company may have some new rules to adhere to social distancing and may take other measures for safety. Or you might feel a little apprehensive about your space and being around so many people so soon.

If life has been you at home sheltered in place, leaving it can be a bit overwhelming at first. It is almost like starting over or starting something new in your life.

It helps to go back with an open mind and the expectation that you may feel different, and the world may be a different place in general. Things that we once took for granted may change forever.

We may all be wearier, and while we do not want to fear life, the threat of the virus is real. Proceed with caution.

Life is a bit of a mess right now for most of us, if you need some tips on positivity check out Working Mom’s Easy Guide to a Powerful Workweek.

2. Talk to your kids and pets about your return to work

Going from having you all day to you being gone the next can be hard for kids of any age. Make sure to have a conversation with them about it and explain to them how often and when you will be going back to work.

Do not assume they know or understand what is going on.

Life has been turned upside down for them too. Your kids may not know why you are home, but I am sure they love it, so they are going to have to adjust back to life without you there for them 24/7.

The same goes for pets, they are used to you being home too. Have a little talk with them and let them know your schedule is about to change.

My daughter had a rough day when I went back to work. I always leave for work before she wakes up, so suddenly waking up without me there was hard on her. I wish I had done a bit more to prepare her.

3. Get things at home in order before you head back to work

You probably have your home set up for your maximum comfort and your at-home routine. Before you start working, get your house in order now that you will be away.

Like if you keep your dogs in a particular place in the home while you are out, set that back up. Or if you moved your baby gates around, get that back in order.

If you are not going to need your “office space” you can tidy up that area too. Put things back where they belong, like the power strip.

If you have clutters of stuff from different tasks you were doing, it is also time to clear those out. Put your materials away and organize, so when you have time again, your items are easily accessible.

Make sure you have the things you need when you leave your house

  • Wallet with money and drivers license
  • Keys to your vehicle, home, office
  • Phone ready and charged (charger in your car)
  • Phone numbers you may need for where your family will be
  • Sunglasses

4. Gather everything you need to take to the office ahead of time

If you took anything home with you when you first left your office, gather those things for your first days back. It is easy to forget them at home.

When I left my office, I took home the stuff I use the most, and when I returned I left all of it at home. I had to dig around my office to find replacements.

Take inventory of all the knick-knacks you took. For me, it was a lot of power cords and chargers for stuff.

 If you need a few more tips on surviving the workweek, check this article out: Surviving the Workweek as a Mom: 9 Easy Things To Do

5. Have your mask and hand sanitizer ready to go

Right now, protecting yourself and your family is the most important thing. That may mean taking a few extra items to work that you may not have in the past.

Sanitizing your work station and keeping your hands clean is very important.


Here are some items you may want to consider taking to work

  • Your face mask – lots of cute designs are popping up everywhere
  • Hand sanitizer – it is hard to find some, but if you do have some it can help
  • Disinfecting wipes – also hard to find, but they can help keep your workplace sanitized
  • Your own soap – if you do not like the one your office provides
  • Lotion – since you might find yourself washing your hands more often
  • General cleaning supplies – since you may have been gone from your office and workstation for weeks, it may be dusty and a bit icky; before you jump headfirst into your work, take some time to clean and organize the space you will be working in
  • Facial tissue – if your office does not supply facial tissue like Kleenex, then consider taking a box for yourself
  • Disposable gloves – depending on what you do and how you interact at work wearing disposable gloves may be something to consider

6. Gather your grooming gear and the makeup you use to get ready

If you have not gone out much in the past month, odds are your makeup, and grooming products are scattered all over the house.

Makeup bags and handbags got a break from going out, too!

So start gathering all your products together

  • Organize items
  • Figure out if you need to replace any items
  • Replenish what is running low
  • Divide what you need at home vs. what you need on the run

7. Get your outfit and work clothes ready

Are you wondering whether you still fit in your clothes? Being stuck at home has several side-effects. Including weight gain or loss. Try on a few outfits and see what still fits.

Do not be shocked the morning before you leave to work to find out that your favorite outfit is no longer fitting well.

Get outfits together for your first few days and figure out if you need to buy some new essentials.

8. Prep some food for your workplace

If you have a break room or kitchen in your office that you typically use, odds are that some of the stuff you keep there expired, or perhaps you took some of your stuff home. Gather the essential items you usually use to eat and snack on at your office.

Get your lunch ready too.

You may not want to leave your place of work to get food as you used to, so having a lunch bag and some easy foods to prep is essential.

Here are typical things people keep at work that you may need

  • Coffee and creamers
  • Light snacks like yogurts, nuts, and string cheese
  • Water or your water bottle
  • Spoons, forks, measuring cups
  • Individually wrapped foods that are easy to prepare
  • Gum or mints
  • Reusable straw
  • Napkins and plastic containers
  • Dish soap

9. Get ready to see sun and light


The last thing I ever thought that would have surprised me after being home for so long as the amount of light in my office! The ride was extra bright too.

Get your shades ready, sunblock, hats, car windshield sun visor, and anything else that protects you from the sun.

If the bright lights are too much in your workplace, see what you can do about turning off some of the light or opening windows instead.

Adjust your monitor and screen brightness settings to your liking.

Maybe reading this now about lights and brightness sounds silly, but if your head starts hurting suddenly at work, this could be the reason.

10. Check your gas tank

If your car has been in the garage for a month and a half, give it a test drive a few days before you head out.

Make sure it is running smoothly and does not need gas.

The last thing you need is to fill up your tank the morning you are trying to get to work.

If you do not drive to work or take another means of transportation, make sure you are set on that.

Final thoughts

It always seems like as soon as we get used to something (like working from home), things change. Which is why it is good to prep and get ahead of things as much as you can. Preparing to go back to work after a few weeks is no different.

You do not want to be at work thinking, ‘damn, I should’ve done this’ or that.
When going back to work, keep you and your family’s safety in mind. You may feel a little odd wiping down everything, but a little prevention can go a long way.

Hopefully, once people see your new habits, they will follow suit. It just takes one person to be an example and to be more cautious for others to do the same.

Every time I hear a story about the overworked medical workers and the grief and pain that the COVID-19 patients are going through – it increases the awareness of my every action.

10 Tips on Going Back to Work After Coronavirus
Article Name
10 Tips on Going Back to Work After Coronavirus
Returning to work after weeks of being home is tough. Here are 10 simple tips to help you as you start leaving your house and interacting with people again.
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Not a Power Couple - Stay at home dad. Working mom.
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