Transitioning (back) into the office environment, post-quarantine, can be overwhelming to say the absolute least. As a Crohn’s Disease patient, I know how terrifying the thought of COVID is. — AND with a compromised immune system as is. — That on top of returning to work during such an unstable and uncertain time? Seems like a lifetime’s worth of worry in a day.
As scary as it is, my job is essential. I am grateful for the benefits and generosity of my company thus far. When the COVID pandemic began to hit the US, I went out on a paid “leave” with full benefits that gave me the flexibility to return to work when / as I felt comfortable. Post- “leave,” I was set up with remote work accommodations that also served as a great relief during this time.
The world is opening back up and it almost seems as though many have forgotten about the virus and the risk they pose on themselves (as well as others) by not wearing their mask and social distancing.
Although inconvenient, my return to work was accompanied by a new role within my company [YAY ME!] I’m extremely excited, but tied to that excitement is quite a bit of anxiety.
Everyday I wake up and say a quick mental prayer for protection. I’m almost 2 weeks into my in-office, pandemic experience and I will say, things are going almost as well as possible (given the circumstances). Between the precautions I’ve taken and those of my employer, I feel moderately safe. — Being there is so much unknown about the virus.
In case you’re getting ready to return to work, or simply preparing for the future, I wanted to share some of my biggest lessons and tips on the matter.
Essential: How a Chronically Ill Patient is Combating the COVID Pandemic While Working In-Office
1. Holding Off: If you and your colleagues are scheduled for breaks and lunches at the same time, this one is for you! As soon as the clock strikes break, I watch as my coworkers huddle around elevators and sometimes bathrooms. Some socially distant, others not. — Not me! I’ll hang around checking emails or Instagram for a few mins as my path clears out. Working for a larger company requires a bit of sacrifice during times like this.
2. Alternative Routes: The path less taken is truly the one of gold during this time. There’s so much even scientists don’t know about this virus, but it’s no secret people can have it without even showing symptoms and I don’t want to risk the exposure. I’ve taken the time to learn different routes to where I need to be. Living with a chronic illness has always required a bit of creativity. – The COVID pandemic has certainly amplified that requirement.
3. Hydration: In case I do become ill, I want to be the strongest version of myself I can possibly be. I know, living with a chronic illness, I must make myself and my health priority over all else. Everyday I start my morning with a water bottle and try to keep up the momentum throughout the day!
4. No Touching: Anyone who works with me can tell you, I don’t touch anything other than my desk, my food & the sink and paper towels in the bathroom! I go out of my way to avoid touching things. – In common areas especially! When I get in the elevator, I elbow the numbers. Door need to be opened? I pull my shirt / jacket over my hand. I am not playing! As annoying and time consuming as it is, it works!
5. Need to Talk? Skype Me! : There are very few people I permit myself to have in-person conversations with. I just don’t. It’s not worth the risk. Anyone who wants to chat knows… hit me up on Skype!
6. Keeping My Body + Lungs Strong: I watched a video where a doctor mentioned keeping your lungs strong and healthy during this time. He mentioned avoiding smoking (of any kind) and also showed some breathing exercises as well. Not sure how helpful / true that part was, but either way, Im staying safe! I take the stairs at least once or twice a day and make sure I’m getting in light exercise by walking around a bit. Nothing too crazy, just want to keep my body moving.
On top of my own efforts, my employer has implemented many new policies to help with prevention as well. Floor markings to ensure everyone is 6ft apart in common areas, sanitizing stations can be found at just about every corner, work from home accommodations and much more. Grateful for everything they continue to do.
Love it? Share it!