After so many months of lockdown, the idea of going back to the office might feel intimidating. Everyone has to get used to the increase in potential virus exposure while picking up where they left off. This guide has everything you need to know about how to socialise in your first job after lockdown, even if you’re battling anxiety.

How to Navigate Socialising in Your First Job After Lockdown

1. Celebrate the Small Victories

As a university student, you’re likely also nervous about figuring out how to socialise in your first job without the pressure of a post-pandemic world. Everything should come down to your small victories. Pat yourself on the back when you finish a conversation in the break room or exchange pleasantries in the lift.

Every kind word forms the foundation for a possible friendship with your co-workers. Little interactions are a laid back way to socialise while you’re getting used to being with other people again.

2. Pay Attention to Other People

Body language is something that gets lost in phone calls and video conferences. Pay attention to how your co-workers exhibit unspoken communication to understand how they’re doing. Consider using unified communications solutions so that you're always in touch with them and can support them anytime. They’re likely in the same nervous mindset about emerging from their pandemic lifestyles too.

Crossed arms and shifting feet indicate if someone is uncomfortable or anxious. If they seem open and relaxed, you can mirror their body language to build a friendly rapport without saying a word. Once you know how to identify how someone feels through their physical communication, you’ll feel less alone in your anxiety even if no one verbalises their fears.

3. Communicate With Your Manager

Socialising at work after COVID-19 isn’t something you should do alone. If you have a great relationship with your manager, keep them in the loop. They’ll want you to feel comfortable in the office again and should work with you to get you there.

You might revise your schedule so you work from the office during the first half of the week and your home for the second half. Maybe you can make time for more outdoor breaks to get fresh air. Throw ideas around with your manager and check in regularly to create a schedule that works for you.

4. Avoid Peer Pressure Situations

People may be more likely to give in to peer pressure because they feel more expected to socialise than ever before. Your co-workers could passively pressure you to go out for drinks after work to celebrate the return of ordinary life.

As you learn how to socialise in your first job, remind yourself that there’s never a good reason to give in to peer pressure. If you’re not into drinking or aren’t ready for indoor bar scenes, don’t go. There are other ways to have fun while you’re getting used to post-pandemic life.

Besides, the pressure could trigger unhealthy addictions like drinking if the invitation feels too important to turn down. The entire point of getting back to normal is to balance a healthy lifestyle with socialisation, so don’t compromise your health just to ignore your anxiety.

5. Stay Away From Personal Deadlines

You might feel more stressed when you think about when you should feel back to normal. Those personal deadlines will only cause heightened anxiety that could keep you from hanging out with co-workers. Experts predict that delta COVID-19 cases will peak towards the end of 2021 and decline rapidly in the fourth quarter, leading to more normalcy in 2022.

Given that it will be many more months before vaccines are more widespread and COVID-19 isn’t as much of a global concern, don’t pressure yourself to feel normal immediately. It’s okay to take things slowly as long as you need to while getting used to socialising again.

6. Keep Things Low-Key

It’s always best to be upfront about what you need. If you need to keep things low-key for a while, let your co-workers know. Your version of socialising at work after COVID-19 might mean chatting during office hours for a few weeks or a couple of months. Then you might add a weekly social event at an outdoor venue like a park before going to indoor dining spaces with friends. Do whatever feels right while you get back out in the world.

Feel Confident When Socialising After Lockdown

Now that you know a bit more about how to socialise in your first job after lockdown, consider what you need. Once you know your limits and which activities make you most comfortable, you can start a routine that gets you started on a path to your new normal.

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