I’m Back: Making a Smooth Return to Work After an Absence

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    Let’s face it: life happens. We get sick, we care for aging parents, we have babies or we go back o school. All of these are important and at times necessary situations to take time off from work.

    However, returning to work after a long absence can be challenging for you, your boss, and even your colleagues. So how do you do it? How do you adjust your goals, which may now have changed, to fit with your work environment? And how do you readjust to the discipline of the workplace? Here are three tips to make that transition go more smoothly.

    1. Plan your return
    First, discuss with your boss the right time to come back. Make sure you decide on a date that’s easy for both of you. If your boss is managing a big project for the next three weeks, he may want you to return right now. If possible, it’s usually better to choose a time when things aren’t too busy.

    Also, think about returning in smaller steps. For example, you could work one or two days per week, then increase to three days, and then go back to full-time. A slow return can be much easier than immediately going back to a full-time schedule, especially after a long illness or maternity leave. It’s also important to let your co-workers, clients, and other key people know that you’re returning.

    2. Reassess your goals
    Whatever your reason for being away, it was most likely a life-changing event. This means that your priorities may now be very different from what they were before. Take some time to assess where you are right now and where you’d like to go. Are there things that you cannot, or will not, tolerate anymore? Or are there things that are important to you now that weren’t before?

    You also need to consider those around you. For example, you may no longer be able to work late. However, just because you have to leave at 5:00 pm promptly, that doesn’t mean you should automatically expect co-workers to stay late and finish up. Perhaps you could shorten your lunch break, or come in a little earlier one day a week, to help others in return for the help they give you.

    3. Learn what you’ve missed
    Talk with your boss, your co-workers, and your temporary replacement, if there is one. Also to get up to speed, read past company newsletters, contact clients, and get hooked back into the grapevine. A lot may have changed since you left. Also, pay attention to what hasn’t changed. That’s important to know as well.

    Career Success Tip:

    Realizes it’ll take time to get back in your comfort zone. Returning to work is probably going to feel strange at first. You may find it difficult to adjust to the discipline and sometimes the dress code of an office environment. You probably had a different routine while you were away. You can do it just give yourself time to adjust and take one small step at a time.

    Do you want to develop Career Smarts?