Many of us in the hospitality industry have recently gone back to work (or will soon be going back) as hotels, restaurants and bars reopen in some areas - but it’s not quite business-as-usual yet.
Not only are there new processes and new expectations, but also more potential for anxiety than ever before.
Working in hospitality's 'new normal', there will be lots of thoughts running through your head. To help you manage those thoughts and expectations, I recommend keeping these 8 tips in mind:
Give yourself permission for more self-care than usual
Weird problems require weird solutions. Don't put pressure on yourself to feel "back to normal" - things aren't normal!
Remember that feeling you get when coming back to work after a lovely holiday? The feeling that makes you want to book another holiday straight away?
After being away from work for so long, this feeling is likely to hit you like a brick a few days in, so prepare for it. Get your self-care ideas, a good book, your new routine, and of course some chocolate ready.
And finally, I encourage you to get in some good naps. Rest is absolutely vital! Especially if you're doing those notoriously long hospitality hours. It's okay to need to ease in.
If you Konmari'd your home in quarantine, you're obviously not the only one. But does it still look that way?
Consider taking some time to declutter your living space, tidy that closet chair, clean those dishes, and make your home nice and orderly. Give yourself a calm, clear space to come home to after a stressful shift. This way, when you get back from work, you will be welcomed with relaxation and not additional stress.
Start a gratitude journal
Many of us used the time in lockdown to start crafty projects, catch up on some reading, get fit, or learn a new skill. So going back to work can feel like a bit of whiplash - you might start wondering what exactly you'd spent your time on and why you suddenly feel like you don't have any to spare.
This is a totally normal response to such a big change in routine, but it can leave you feeling a little drained or even depressed. Nip blues in the bud by making a list of anything you feel grateful for this year.
Even if your first thought is '... but I don't have anything to write!', give it a go. Chances are good that when you give it some thought, you've got more to feel happy about than you might expect. Feeling grateful is a great route to happiness and less stress.
Set a routine that suits your new life
It might seem easy to step back into your old routine, but don't be surprised if it doesn't feel quite as comfortable as it used to. Things have changed - it's okay if your attitude around your routine has changed as well.
To make your transition back into work more seamlessly, think about adopting a routine that adapts to your current needs, rather than just what you were used to doing. If your old routine used to involve hitting the gym before work every day, don't feel guilty for not picking it up again right away.
Working out an adapted routine is especially important if you have kids and pets, as they may struggle with you being away again after having you around!
Stay in close contact with your boss and coworkers
Make sure you understand what to expect when returning to work, so you can prepare yourself mentally and physically. Call your boss and get a good understanding of what the work will be like, how many people will be working, what the expected occupancy will be, and any new rules you need to be aware of.
Think about your needs ahead of time
Once you've got a handle on the new workplace expectations - especially those that cover COVID-19 safety and compliance - make sure to prepare yourself. Keep a good stockpile of masks and gloves, spare work outfits, hand sanitizer, and anything else you might need.
Getting yourself prepared when you're feeling clear-minded and healthy means it's one less thing for you to worry about when you're tired and stressed out.
Set boundaries, and don't be scared to stick to them
This goes doubly if you're in a customer-facing role: make sure to set yourself boundaries about what you’re comfortable with and not when it comes to social contact and interactions. This is some serious business, and you need to feel safe and comfortable at work no matter what.
Follow up with your manager and coworkers about company processes to help you maintain good boundaries and stay COVID-compliant - when you know these backwards and forwards, you'll feel more confident completing your work tasks.
And if you see something at work that's not right or seems non-compliant, call it out! Everyone benefits when people stay accountable and safe.
Reflect on how things have changed, and get comfy with it
Once you’ve started work and are getting used to the new ways of working, don’t forget to pause and reflect. Identify what new processes work well for you and the business, and which ones need to be reviewed.
Don’t forget about your personal career development! This is a critical time of change, and what you learn and do now may just be the catalyst for your next promotion. Keep note of what you’re doing at work, how that’s affecting you, and what contributions your actions have on the business.
Do you have new responsibilities? Keep a record of those and their impact on customers and the business. It’s easy to forget what we do daily, taking note of it, will help you in your future when looking for the next career step.
Whether you've been working through the COVID period or you're about to jump back in, it's natural to be feeling some extra stress around work. Remember to keep an eye on yourself - and your coworkers - to take a step back and give yourself a break if you need to. The most important thing is your mental and physical health!
Maria is a Hospitality Management degree graduate, a hotelier and an explorer. After years at Michelin starred restaurants, she found herself on the corporate side of hospitality. Maria created Savvy Hotelier to share her knowledge of the industry with hospitality management students all over the world, to help them make the most of their studies and opportunities before graduation. It’s about being a #savvyhotelier. Follow @savvyhotelier on Instagram to get the latest.
Have a question? We’re always ready to talk.
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