It’s been one of the strangest 12 months in history for everyone, but if you’ve been working from home for the last 12 months then the thought of leaving the safety of your home office can be quite a daunting one... Here’s our top tips on getting back to the office for anyone who’s overly embraced that hermit life and forgotten what it’s like to be out in the big wide world.
Communication is key
Before coming back make sure you are speaking with both your employer and your colleagues. Its important to understand how things are going to change so you can mentally prepare yourself. It’s also important to understand how your colleagues are feeling about coming back into communal workspaces. Companies are working extremely hard to make sure that staff are as safe and comfortable as possible for when they return to their desks. Speaking to your line manager - they might be able to put to bed some of your concerns before you even cross the threshold again. Speaking with other colleagues who are in a similar situation to you can also have a major benefit as it can dispel the feeling that you are going through this alone which might help you rationalise some of those fears.
Being comfortable matters
You may have been living in loungewear and moved those previously unloved house plants to surround you so that it didn’t look like you were doing zoom calls in an empty void, but one of the most obvious take-aways from the home working revolution is that being comfortable in your surroundings is incredibly important for productivity. Bringing some of these creature comforts with you back into the office could reduce the separation anxiety you might be feeling from your Instagram worthy home office when you get back to your baron cubicle! On the flip side don’t get too comfortable, remember that people can see and hear you again so maybe think twice before you unbutton that top button on your jeans or belt out that power ballad on the radio.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
It’s so easy to be overly critical of yourself. Nowadays we are conditioned to analyse every small aspect of what we do in order to “better ourselves” but this overly analytical mindset can actually be quite damaging when you are trying to find your feet in the office again. There’s a lot to be said for easing back into things and taking a step-by-step approach, getting used to working around other people and, embracing the social side of things that you’ve been longing for whilst you’ve been away is extremely important. Have that watercooler conversation, go and visit your friend in accounting to find out how their daughter’s clarinet lessons are going and don’t be too hard on yourself if, by the end of day one you haven’t achieved as much as you would have if you’d sat uninterrupted at home.
Take regular breaks/Don’t over work yourself
You may be used to sitting at the computer for 12 hours a day because you haven’t had to factor in a commute for over a year but burning yourself out upon your return to the office is a definite risk. It helps to plan out your day and make a conscious decision about what time you are going to leave the office and stick to it…. If you have gotten used to tucking in the kids at night then there’s nothing to say you can’t carry on getting the right work/life balance and, as we have learnt over the last 12 months there aren’t many problems that can’t be sorted out over the phone.
Also go for a stroll to the nearest park on your lunch break. Walking was good for your mental health when you were at home and it’s not rocket science to realise it’s still going to be good for you now that you are back in the office. Don’t get back in to old habits like eating your lunch at your desk whilst you catch up on replying to emails as in the long run it is only going to be detrimental to your overall productivity.
The most positive societal shift that has come about because of the pandemic is that the general public have become far more understanding of other people’s struggles. If we are going to come out of the pandemic better of than when we went into it then it is crucial that everyone continues these elevated levels of empathy. Try to remember that although it has been inconvenient working from home, not being able to socialise or hug family members… unfortunately for some COVID has ripped through their lives like a wrecking ball. Their physical and mental health could have been severely impacted, they might have had financial difficulties or worst-case scenario they have lost loved ones. We’ve all had our struggles but for some things have been so much worse and lending a sympathetic ear could be invaluable to them.