Returning to the Office

Returning to the office – things to consider for your maternity returner

My Experience

I returned to work after 9 months of maternity leave and the life changing experience of having a baby. I’d left on a high, but now, returning, I felt nervous, apprehensive, and excited. The place seemed much bigger, and a lot had changed! Especially for me. I was breastfeeding and needed to express milk for my baby during my lunch break. I had been told I could use the first aid room and was to get the key from building services. However, on arriving at reception to get said key,  I was advised that the man I needed wasn’t there and could I come back tomorrow? NO!!!  (Would we ask someone needing the loo NOW to come back tomorrow?!)

Fortunately, sensing the urgency the receptionist sorted it and I managed to express in time. These are exactly the types of situations that you want to avoid for your new mum when she returns to work.

There are things you, as an employer, can do to ensure a smooth transition and provide a supportive work environment.

Communication: Reach out to the maternity returner well in advance of their return to the office Initiate an open and supportive conversation to understand their needs, concerns, and preferences. Address any questions they may have and provide information about the workplace changes or updates that have occurred during their absence.

Flexible Return-to-Work Plan: Recognise that the maternity returner may need some flexibility during their transition back to the office. Consider options such as a phased return or gradually increasing their workload to help them readjust. Discuss potential adjustments to their working hours or remote work arrangements if necessary.

Workplace Support: Ensure that the office environment is welcoming and accommodating for the maternity returner. Carry out a workstation assessment, assess whether any reasonable adjustments need to be made and make any required arrangements to create a supportive atmosphere.

Training and Development: Consider providing appropriate training or refresher courses to help the maternity returner update their skills and knowledge, especially if there have been significant changes during their absence. Offer opportunities for professional development and ensure they have access to resources or mentorship programs.

Mentorship and Networking: Assign a mentor or buddy to the maternity returner to provide guidance and support during their transition back to the office. Encourage networking opportunities within the business to help them reconnect with colleagues and build new relationships.

Maternity Policies and Benefits: Familiarize the maternity returner with company policies related to parental leave, childcare support, and any other relevant benefits. Ensure they are aware of their rights and entitlements as they reintegrate into the workplace.

Ongoing Communication and Feedback: Establish regular check-ins with the maternity returner to discuss their progress, challenges, and any adjustments needed. Encourage an open dialogue where they can voice concerns or provide feedback. Regularly assess their well-being and work-life balance.

Inclusive Culture: Foster an inclusive and supportive work culture that values parenthood. Promote a work environment where all employees feel respected and supported in managing their personal and professional responsibilities.

Remember, every individual and situation is unique, so tailor the process to meet the specific needs of your maternity returner. By providing support, flexibility, and clear communication, you can help facilitate a successful return to the office.

Key points to consider:

  • Make use of Keep-In-Touch days
  • Have private break rooms and refrigerators for breastfeeding mums
  • Workstation or office risk assessments
  • Discuss flexible working options

Please get in touch with a member of the team who will be able to support your further info@hrready.co.uk or 01223 641 017.