Here we are, almost half a year into the COVID-19 era. It’s safe to say that no matter your situation or personality type, it hasn’t been easy for anyone. Months of quarantining have taken their toll on our physical and mental wellbeing. Some may have adjusted well, while for others, another minute away from bustling shops, movie theatres, and coffee shops seems agonizing. Your personality type may determine how you have reacted and are reacting to quarantine – but it can also determine how you prepare yourself for the post-COVID-19 world.
Many countries and US states are loosening restrictions on public gatherings and returning to work just as many people are finally getting used to their quarantine routines. Returning to work is an anxiety-filled thought for many people, and even for our pets, for a variety of reasons. To start, even some extroverts are becoming acclimated to their work and play from home schedules; sacrificing in-person interactions at the office might free up more time to connect with relatives and friends far from home over the phone. Some introverts love the time at home, spending their energy on personal projects and self care rather than at the office. Aside from the social anxiety that returning to work brings, it also means increasing your risk of contracting the virus. This can be a paralyzing thought for just about anyone, but your personality type may determine how you prepare for and adjust to returning to work.
Get to Know Yourself
First, let’s discuss personality types. The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Theory is one of the most common and renowned personality tests. By answering a series of questions, this test loosely categorizes people into two groups – introverts, and extroverts. From there, it provides 16 sub-categories based on how you view and react to the following four factors as described by the Myers & Briggs Foundation:
- Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).
- Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).
- Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).
- Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided, or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).
At the end of the test, you are assigned one of 16 four-letter personality types. Knowing your personality type can help you to identify ways to reduce the anxiety of returning to work and navigating through the post-COVID-19 world.
Don’t know your personality type? Take the Myers-Briggs Test here!
How to Prep
No matter your personality type, the first step should be talking with your employer. For non-essential employees, is your employer willing to offer flex hours? Flexible WFH policies? More breaks? Ask these questions when you can – everyone in your company is likely experiencing the same thing you have after months of quarantine and may be willing to adjust to your needs.
Secondly, make sure you know what safety precautions are being put in place at your place of work. This is hugely important and will help to reduce anxiety and uncertainty for those with personality types containing the “judging” (J) factor. The CDC has created guidelines for businesses in a number of industries as they return to work. How does this stack up to your company’s individual policies? Don’t be afraid to ask questions or encourage more precautions to make you feel safe.
Lastly, make sure you have the materials at hand that will make you feel more secure. Put your masks, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizers in your car or create an office kit to make sure you feel more comfortable at work.
Specific Tips on Transitioning Back to the Office based on Your Personality Type
It’s hard to jump back into the “normal routine” when the world is so far from it. Here are things you can do to prepare for your “new” office routine and bring pieces from your WFH life to the office.
Structured Extroverts (ESTJ, ENTJ, ESFJ, ENFJ)
- Use this time to connect with your coworkers and plan socially distanced lunch breaks, walks, and outdoor events! Having social plans will make your days go by quicker and give you something to look forward to at the office.
- Get your online shop on! What do you love about your WFH setup? Try to replicate that at your office with new organizers or desk signs to share good vibes, even from a distance. Etsy is a great place to shop for unique, handmade items to make your office feel a little more like home.
Structured Introverts (ISTJ, INTJ, ISFJ, INFJ)
- Take back your commute! Going back to the office doesn’t mean you have to abandon the routine you’ve established while WFH. Research some new podcasts to get into or buy an audio version of the latest book you’ve been reading. Think of your commutes as easing into the office or back to your cozy after work zone.
- Try a wearable essential-oil diffuser. You can use the same scents you already diffuse at home to create your own personal “bubble” at your work space. Lavender and cedar-wood are great for reducing anxiety.
Freedom-Loving Extroverts (ESTP, ENTP, ESFP, ENFP)
- Remember – lunch breaks are YOUR time! Instead of cramming in work while eating lunch over your keyboard, try ordering takeout from that restaurant you’ve always wanted to try and meet a friend or two for lunch in the park.
- No one said you have to leave your personality at the door. If you’ve gotten attached to your t-shirts, you don’t necessarily have to leave those at home either. You can restyle your favorite tees to make them workplace appropriate. Clothes speak to your personality without you even saying a word. Have fun and up-style your favorite WFH-fits for the office.
Freedom-Loving Introverts (ISTP, INTP, ISFP, INFP)
- Bring some art supplies to the office! Art is a great way to help you escape anxious thoughts and bring some color and inspiration to your day. Forget your ballpoint-pen doodles, break out those colored pencils and escape to your own little world with art. There are even “adult coloring books” for when you aren’t feeling particularly inspired but need to flex those creative muscles.
- Use your commute as an excuse to get out and explore on your own. Pull over for the pretty sunsets, take the scenic route, and unplug with some new music or a podcast.
Change is inevitable – but the way you handle it is in your hands. Follow some of these steps to make your latest change a bit more manageable and don’t forget to prioritize your own safety and well being.