6 Tips for a Smooth Transition Back to the Office
By Amy Jacques
Many people are facing an in-person return to the office, following more than a year of work from home due to the global pandemic. For those going back full-time or part-time, perhaps you’re feeling a little hesitant — especially with easing COVID restrictions and worries about the Delta variant, according to an article from The Muse.
A survey of more than 4,500 U.S. employees (and four other countries) by Limeade Institute found that every single respondent reported anxiety about returning to the office.
Check in within yourself to see what you’re worried about regarding a return to the office. Share your concerns with HR and your boss. Chances are, they’ll be receptive to having a conversation and be willing to work with you. We’re all navigating unprecedented times with the global pandemic, so everyone is learning as they go.
Knowing what to expect from your company can make the transition easier — whether it’s closing off shared common spaces, requiring vaccinations or regular COVID testing, staggering start times so the morning commute won’t be as congested, adjusting seating arrangements or asking employees to wear masks when not at their desks.
Give yourself time and space to reacclimate to social, safety and work-life balance aspects, such as interacting with co-workers, navigating office politics and small talk, and implementing positive habits from this past year like walks, family time or new hobbies.
To cut down on stress, practice a new morning routine if you haven’t been leaving your home: Set your alarm, dress as you would for work and go over your commute.
Try to gradually phase in your in-office schedule, rather than returning full-time all at once. Also ask about a hybrid-work schedule or a permanent remote setup.
Talk with your co-workers ahead of time about what your expectations are. Respect their needs too. Some may be excited to be back in the workplace; others may not.
If you’re still having trouble with the process and need extra support, look into additional mental-health resources that your employer or insurance may offer.
“It might be hard to see this time as an opportunity, but there’s no better moment to take stock of your work life and see what could be improved,” according to The Muse.
Here are some more tips to help ease the transition.
1. Ask questions and share concerns with your employer.
2. Create a plan to integrate at your own pace.
3. Speak to co-workers you trust ahead of time.
4. Revisit and revise rituals before returning to the office.
5. Make changes to boost your professional happiness.
6. Set boundaries and be gentle with yourself.