The office: How to go back to work successfully


While you will be reading this in March, as I write we are still in early January and this is my second day back at work after a two-week summer break.

scooting to workBy Asher Goldman

No matter how much you might love your job, getting back in the groove after an extended break is always tricky.

So, how do you do it? With the summer break over, here’s our guide to getting back in the officeafter being out of it for an extended period of time.

Ease yourself back in

You won’t be at peak efficiency for a little while. Don’t beat yourself up over this – if possible, commit yourself to less work after the break than you were doing immediately before. Your brain and your body will take some time to get back into your previous level of on-the-job expertise, so try not to stress if simple tasks take longer than you think they should.

Find a break if possible

Wellingtonians and Aucklanders are lucky here – their provincial anniversary days fall in January, and mean you can have a shortened week within your first month back. Nelsonians get a day off in early February, and then Waitangi weekend gives all of us a break. Enjoy it! Have a holiday at home with friends, or a BBQ on the beach, or take the kids to the zoo. This early break will­, counterintuitively, help you get reaccustomed to life at work.

Those summery nights

Summer nights are long – make the most of the sunshine. If you are working 9 to 5 (or something close to it) you will have sun for hours when you get home. Eat dinner outside, go for a walk with a loved one – make the most of the sun. When winter comes around and you are leaving and getting home when it is dark, you will appreciate the memories.

Your work friends are pretty cool

You know the ones – those people you sit across from and talk to every day, but would never think of hanging out with outside of work hours. Work friends are great – you will spend more time with them than you will with most of your “actual” friends, but you never think you will miss them after a few weeks apart. Well, you are back now, and it is time to rekindle those bonds. They, more than anyone, can help support you through the tough times that even the best job will have.

Buy something nice

At some point in the first week, go and buy yourself something just because you want to. Don’t break the bank, but get something you desire – whether it’s a block of chocolate, a bottle of wine or a new TV. Then, as you savour your purchase, remind yourself that having a job definitely has its benefits.

Have flexibility? Use it

Not all jobs have it, but if your role allows for flexible working hours, then make the most of it. Go out for breakfast with a loved one before arriving at work late, and spend an extra hour making it up at the end of the day. Take an extended lunch break for a wander around the water. Go home early to down a beer or two on the back deck. If you have the flexibility, use it.

We are all in the same boat

Most importantly, if you are frustrated or grumpy about your holiday being over, don’t take it out on others. Your local barista? She probably worked through, except maybe the stats, so don’t be grumpy if she forgets your regular coffee order. The receptionist at work? He probably misses hanging out with his kids, so don’t have a go at him if he transfers you a phone call you didn’t want to take. We are all in this together, and if you are unhappy to be back at work, chances are others feel just the same.

Not long to go

We have all got at least four weeks annual leave – and next summer isn’t that far away. Find the time to enjoy the good parts of your working life, and stand alongside your workmates in the PSA to build on those while lessening the unenjoyable parts.

And, if worst comes to worst, there’s less than 365 days to go…