Once you’ve gotten used to working at home, returning to the office requires more than trading in your bunny slippers for proper work shoes. The sooner you start planning for the transition, the easier it will be to cope.
Maybe it’s your idea to go back because you want to build your network or increase your job security. Maybe your employer is changing its policies. Google are just two examples of big companies in the UK that suddenly scaled back remote work, citing productivity reasons.
Adapting to a different work environment is a big transition. Use these suggestions to help you ease back into office life.
Reconfiguring Your Work Activities:
- Optimise your commute. Depending on how far you live from work, travelling to and from the office may use up a significant part of your day. Relocating is usually out of the question, maybe you can use the time to read, walk or bike part of the way. Ask your employer if they have a Bike to Work scheme.
- Talk face to face. Having more opportunities to collaborate and socialize is a major benefit of having your coworkers around. Volunteer for group projects. Invite someone in your team out to lunch or join a friendly chat in the kitchen (anyone else missed the watercooler moments during the pandemic? Just me…?)
- Provide updates. Maybe you’ve been diligent about reporting your progress or maybe you need to start letting others know what you’re doing. Either way, your boss and coworkers will appreciate information that lets them do their jobs more effectively too.
- Deal with distractions. You may feel overwhelmed by background noise and colleagues dropping by. Consider noise-cancelling headphones or limiting extended personal conversations to lunchtime and breaks. Check with your boss as they think you’re a little rude sat at your desk with headphone on!
- Create quiet time. Do you have tasks that require silence and concentration? Designate certain hours to close your office doors and minimize interruptions. Or choose to do these tasks on the days you work from home each week. And if that’s not an option, ask your HR team if a hybrid approach can work.
- Stick to routines. While you may have to change some things you did at home, there could be other daily habits that you can carry over into an office environment. Perform similar tasks in batches and designate specific times to check messages.
- Decorate your space. If you’re feeling homesick, try to make your workspace feel like a nice place to be. Bring in your artwork or drawings by your kids. Display photos of family and pets.
- Negotiate your hours. You may be able to hold onto some working time at home depending on the reasons behind this transition. If your company has a new CEO with a different philosophy, they’re unlikely to make an exception just for you. Otherwise, your boss may be open to letting you stay home at least part-time. A hybrid approach to where you work may be the norm after the pandemic and main lockdowns are all done and dusted.
Reconfiguring Your Personal Activities:
- Enjoy more balance. Another upside to commuting to work is that you may achieve healthier boundaries between your professional and personal life. Work files will be less likely to creep into your bedroom and disrupt your sleep.
- Rethink your mornings. On the other hand, you may miss your peaceful mornings or being able to sleep in. Find something that will motivate you to get out of bed with a smile, like a gourmet cup of coffee or taking a yoga class before work.
- Revise your budget. Be prepared for extra expenses that may come along with office hours. You might need to supplement your professional wardrobe and pay more for transportation and eating out. Lunch at work can be a nice part of your work day after so long at home during the pandemic.
- Divide chores. If you’ve been taking on more chores while you’re around the house, your family may need to adjust too. Talk with your partner or call a family meeting to redistribute responsibilities. Hiring outside help may be an option too. A cleaner for a couple of hours a week can really help your sanity!
Working at the office has its advantages, including building closer relationships and increasing your visibility. Maintaining a positive attitude will help you work out the details as you head back to the office.