As we make the shift back to in-person activities, we may feel eager to get back to life “as we know it.” We might be excited to return to the gym, eat at restaurants, and not have to remember that dang mask! And while it’s exciting to be able to reconnect with people and build a routine for working in an office again, it’s also understandable to feel the stress of re-entering.
We’re dumping the work-from-home routines that we worked so hard to create and maintain over the last year and attempting to return to a traditional setting. But, we’re not exactly going back to the same world we left last March: society has largely changed—so we’re entering new ground.
Why In-person Work Is Important
There are both pros and cons of working from home. It’s true, with remote work we get to skip our commute and the in-between interactions that an in-person office allows for.
But working from home remotely also presents many challenges, including distractions, inconvenient home office setups, and feelings of work isolation. While a remote setting can help us meet more people on a surface level, face-to-face engagement allows us to connect with people more and build meaningful relationships.
Making the transition back to in-person work might feel unnerving, but it also provides teams the necessary tools to learn and communicate more effectively. The point: teams with better cohesion are much more productive and engaged.
So: here are 5 tips that we can use as we prepare to make the transition:
The 5 Best Practices to Ease the Transition Back to Working in an Office
For many, this transition may feel abrupt and you may feel hesitant to want to go back to the office. These feelings are completely valid! But ask yourself, what exactly are my fears about returning to work?
Spend time reflecting on what it was like going to your work environment pre-pandemic as opposed to what it might look like now. Identify how to reduce stress at work and address the issues appropriately.
While you may not be able to avoid the negative feelings of returning to the office, an inability to reflect and regulate negative emotions can harm your mental and physical health over time. Reflecting allows you to not only distract your mind but gain self-insight and be able to plan better for the next time those feelings arise.
#2: Establish Boundaries
Ensuring mental wellbeing is a key aspect of transitioning back to in-person work. The social distancing requirement has given us a new sense of boundaries, both physical and mental. So what does this look like for you?
Maybe it’s setting a specific time you’ll leave a work function (like when you’re feeling tired or would rather be alone). Maybe this means turning off work-related notifications after a certain time. Or maybe you can speak up to leadership about topics that make you uncomfortable while working in the office—or things that you would want to speak about more.
#3: Talk With Others
It’s okay, you are not alone!
One thing you can do at work is step outside your comfort zone and get to know the people around you and their interests. After all, you could be sharing your favorite band or food with the co-worker next to you and you wouldn’t even know!
After a year of keeping our distance and seeing faces on screens, many are feeling nervous about the transition in some capacity. Ask people how they are feeling about it and cultivate bonds that will help you (and your coworkers) get through the workday.
#4: Take It Day-by-Day
Transitioning from remote work back to working in an office is a huge change. Try to ease your back way into the space, making small promises to yourself each step of the way to build trust and comfort.
This could mean inquiring about working 1–2 days remotely per week before transitioning fully. It could also mean waking up earlier than usual so that you can mentally prepare and do a few things that bring you joy before you leave the house for your workday.
#5: Find Ways To Refresh
Find ways to re-energize and invest in your health consistently. Meditating and stretching is always a great mechanism to calm your mind and become present in the moment. Reciting affirmations hidden in your agenda for the day is also a helpful tool.
Using creative and healthy outlets like exercising, journaling, or practicing something you want to get better at to channel out any negative energy can make a big difference for your mental wellbeing and daily outlook.
Some positive affirmations might include: “I am worth more than my productivity and output”, “My body and mind require rest and refreshment”, and “I am creating an environment where my boundaries are clear and I am protecting my spirit.”
Baby Steps Back to Working in an Office
It’s understandable if you don’t feel fully ready to go back to working in an office. But if you’re struggling with the mental and physical toll that it takes to return to an in-person work setting, remember to implement these practices to ease your transition.
We are the best employees when we can be our healthy and full selves. View this transition not as a bummer, but as an opportunity to recreate your idea of the workplace and be aware of your mental health as you take on your day.