Returning to work after furlough: the new normal

Published by Hannah Rose  on 24th July 2020

For those, like me, who have been furloughed, it may feel like time has ceased and you’re unsure whether it’s Monday, Friday or 2050. As Pillory Barn, and other businesses, begin to welcome back those of us who have been hibernating, we’re beginning to see our routines and structure return as the world resumes, albeit slowly and in a whole new way. 

I think it’s important to note before ploughing onwards, that most businesses want to furlough staff as much as we wanted a global pandemic. It goes against every business model striving for progression, but it has been a crucial survival mechanism and also a phenomenal learning curve for many. 


First day back

Today marks my first day back in the office after three and a half months of furlough, beginning with part time phased return. Three and a half months of furlough. It’s mad to think about that much time when most of us begin work at the age of sixteen and do not stop until retirement. 

I like to think I’ve used it wisely and productively, whilst maintaining a level of sanity, but there is only so much you can do in that time within the confines of your home.  My kitchen has never before seen such experimentation, my knees are upset by the new-found love of running (well, I say love… it’s been a fraught affair) and I’ve started a virtual book club. It’s been fulfilling creatively, but I am certainly ready for a sense of normalcy to resume. 


A revived sense of creativity

I’ll be honest and say I’d got comfortable in my furlough bubble, so when the call came to get me back in part-time the nerves began to jitter. But, within the first hour at my desk, I went from nervous and tentative to ploughing through tasks. 

I’ve been worried about what I’ve lost, rusty skill set, missed discussions, everything I need to catch up on – rather than focusing on what furlough and lockdown has brought to me: a revived sense of creativity. Which, when you work in a creative industry, is pretty priceless and it’s such an important thing to keep in mind as we get back into work.

I tried to push the fear of stepping back into my work shoes to one side, and found that much like riding a bike, the creative world is something you can really only get better at. There’s always chatter that hardship fuels creativity and these periods are followed by incredible creative booms so I’m excited to watch this process unfurl – because I truly believe it’s coming!