There are so many reasons why any one of us could be off work with a long term illness. Returning to work may seem daunting and even overwhelming. Take these 10 steps to ensure you are ready.
1. Talk to your employer.
While you are off sick keep regular contact with your employer. It may just be an email once a month to see how things are but keeping in touch reassures your employer you intend to return. Agree a provisional return date and increase contact closer to the time.
2. Talk to your GP and or consultant.
Speak to your medical team and let them know you intend to go back to work. They may have advise on support your employer can give you or equipment necessary. They can also amend or advise regarding medication at work.
3. Consider a phased return.
Instead of jumping back in full force, which may be setting yourself up for a fall, consider a phased return to work. Maybe half days or less days per week and work your way up to full hours.
4. Have a workplace assessment.
Ask your employer for ergonomic workplace assessment. Having this done before your return could ease your transition into work
5. Ensure all equipment has been bought and is in place.
If there is any equipment recommended by your medical team or by the workplace assessment ensure that this is all ordered with a delivery date in good time.
6. Consider travel.
Look into whether the journey you used to make into work is still feasible. If your condition affects your resilience factor in travelling time into your proposed work day.
7. Support network.
Establish and mobilise your support network. Whether it’s making sure that meals are cooked and ready for you to reheat in the evenings, giving you a lift to work or taking care of the shopping – any help is going to be a Godsend.
8. Bulk cooking. Consider cooking in bulk and separating portions for freezing. This will help on those days you are too tired to cook and can be taken for lunch when the time comes.
9. Sort out medication. The routine that you have fallen into while you have been off work is about to change drastically. It is not unusual for you to forget to take your medication because of the changes. Make sure you have the medication you need to take while you are out of the house and set reminders. Failure to take your medication can be a set back to your health and your return to work.
10. Lastly, feedback if it is too much. Monitor the way you feel throughout your work day and also through the week. If you feel overwhelmed feedback to your employer or your GP. A slight change in work hours or medication are just a couple of the changes that can be made.
Most employers are very accommodating when it comes to returning to work. Legally your employer has an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to ensure you are able to work if you have a disability. If your employer does not have their own Occasional Health department then a free workplace assessment can be done through the government scheme Access To Work.
Overall enjoy yourself. I, for one, really grew frustrated at being home and useless for so long and I’m chomping at the bit to get back to work. Don’t stress yourself out, enjoy it!.