Getting Back in the Workforce: How to Readjust After Taking Time Off

So, you are heading back into the work world, this can be a bit daunting for anyone no matter how long you have taken time off. While there will be several items which are common to everyone in the workforce, you have to reacclimatize yourself to deal with them. The routine of arriving on time and handling whatever personal tasks you have without impacting your work time are two situations which initially spring to mind.

Those are the easy ones; there is also the relationship aspect which must be handled. Unless the reason you are reentering is due to prison time or some other drastic cause, the fact is that you cannot just avoid other people. You will have to deal with coworkers who may not click with you in the work environment and customers who may be less than gracious. So, the hardest part of reentering a work life is becoming used to be a “friendly acquaintance” again which is neither a close friend nor a person to be avoided. An example which explains this in-between relationship status is that you would go have drinks after work with them, but only is a group. You would tell them about your kids, but not go into any detail about the challenges of parenting. Fitting into the office/factory social culture is a major factor in how well you will adjust to work life. In the work world, getting along in a team situation is a critical skill. Some managers even ask questions in the hiring process about your participation in sports simply to determine if you are a team player. This skill is not natural to many people. We must put aside personal ambition and replace it with team ambition to function well. Even if you are one of those people whose dream job is to sit quietly in a dark office/cubicle interacting only with a computer. You will still need to be friendly and warm to your coworkers in the breakroom. If you have time before starting, a way to practice this is to join some volunteer or civic organization. Intentionally try to be a friend to all, but close to none. Even though many people meet close friends through work, let it take time.

It can also be hard rearranging the things you used to do around your new work schedule. Allow yourself a period of adjustment as you test different ways to be a worker while handling your personal needs or the needs of others. There is also the issue of having to dust off some of your old skills in order to complete your work. Take the time to review any past experience you may have and evaluate what you need to work on; it may take a little while to get back to your previous skill level, but like riding a bike the muscle memory will quickly reveal itself. Also, do not hesitate to ask your new coworkers or boss what skills they find most helpful for your position so you can know what is expected. Do not be afraid to reenter the workforce because once you nail your routine, dust off your old skills, develop a working relationship with your coworkers, and just settle back in to the work routine you will be on your way to acting as a normal and well-adjusted employee. Treat this as a chance to restart and enjoy the excitement you felt when you initially began your career: take chances, work hard, and give it your all!