How to Adjust to Working in the Office Again
Your employer just put out a notice to the entire organization: It’s time to return to working in the office.
Now that you’re just starting to get used to working at home, you’re being called back in. Are you ready for this? Do you know how to re-adjust to working in the office in a way that doesn’t cause anxiety while still setting you up for success?
Here’s a guide for stepping foot back in the office after working from home for months.
Know the New Rules
Before walking into your workplace, make sure you clearly understand and can comply with the new rules your employer set about returning to work. Haven’t heard of any rules or changes? Speak up and ask. You don’t want to be the person who shows up on day one without a mask when everyone else is wearing one! Expect changes, such as seat rearrangement to put more space between employees, or temperature checks before entering the building.
And if your company hasn’t set any clear expectations, ask how they’re planning to proceed with safety measures. You want to make sure you’re comfortable returning to the workplace for you, your colleagues’, and your clients’ safety.
Implement Physical Safety Measures
Your employer will be updating policies and procedures to help protect all employees, but your safety is still your responsibility. Make sure you’re stocked with items such as face masks, antibacterial gel, and disinfectant. Work on limiting touchpoints outside of your own workspace.
For example, there are gadgets that can help you open doors and push elevator buttons, which limit your risk of exposure. If you previously got water from a watercooler or grabbed snacks from a breakroom, know that these options may no longer be available. Start by bringing your own nourishment from home.
Think of this new phase back into the workplace as a time to socially distance — just while you’re around your work “family.”
Prepare for Things to Be Different
Your manager may have told you that there would be some changes in the office, but you certainly weren’t expecting to have to work behind a plexiglass border or wait in line for an elevator because only two people were allowed in at a time. Part of your responsibility for returning to work is simply mentally preparing yourself that things won’t be like they were.
Keep Up the Communication
When you adjusted to working remotely, you needed to increase your communication to make sure things ran smoothly with your team and clients. Don’t let this fall by the wayside when you head back into the office. Just because you can physically see some of your coworkers and your clients might make in-office appointments, great communication is what will set you apart from your competitors.
Allow for Socialization
It’s been a long time since you’ve seen many of your colleagues. Take advantage of your time together. Studies show that small talk — such as what happened on your favorite tv shows — builds bonds and can make working more enjoyable.
Now’s the time to start being social again. Go for a brief distanced walk outdoors with a colleague. Show some team spirit by decorating your workstations. Find an opportunity to make someone smile.
It doesn’t matter how well you prepare to return to work in the office, there will still be anxiety before and snafus upon returning. Be patient with yourself. Plan now for ways you can practice self-care both in the office and after work’s done for the day. We’ve all been through an extraordinary moment in history, and while some things may seem to be returning to “normal” or the “new normal” as many call it, it’s important to still focus on our mental (and physical) health. Self-care is vital at a time like this.
Ask for Help
Readjusting to life in the workspace may be difficult, so make sure to ask for help when you need it. You may need to call in a family member to help with babysitting or to ask your supervisor to adjust your working hours. You may need more administrative assistance. Whatever it is — just ask for it.
Readjusting to being in the workplace may take some time, but eventually you’ll get to a place where you’re feeling confident that you’re protected and comfortable working outside of your own home.