Our working situations have changed dramatically since early 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic caused many people to lose their jobs, and companies around the world made the move to remote work. For example, by June 2020, 42% of the US labor force were working from home. Over the past year, we’ve nailed the bed-to-Zoom commute: We can be up, presentably dressed (our top half at least), hydrated, caffeinated and in front of the screen in minutes.
Despite the challenges of making our living space into our working space, we’ve gotten used to the comforts of working from home. Surveys show that employees are feeling anxious about returning to the office. As COVID cases drop, more of us are being asked to go back to in-person workplaces. So how can we make this transition easier? Here are 6 tips for returning back to the office:
1. Be Considerate
The shift to home working was sudden, and that kind of change was psychologically jarring and therefore negative for most people, according to Meag-gan O’Reilly PhD, a psychologist at Stanford, cofounder of Inherent Value Psychology Inc. What’s more, this shift was combined with uncertainty about the future; the loss of autonomy, freedom, and connection that came with lockdown.
Being at home all the time and losing familiar structures and routines led some of us to overwork — which might have included taking up new hobbies with overly high expectations — while others struggled to focus.
Consider the things that have changed for you this year and decide what elements you want to keep. Besides these huge societal issues were the minutiae — the cancelled holidays, birthdays over Zoom instead of in person, not being able to hug loved ones or even stop by a coworker’s desk to say “hello” in the morning. We lost or had to adjust the little daily routines that make up our lives, and as many of us are exiting crisis mode, it’s time to take stock of both what your life is like now and what it used to be like.
2. Be Intentional
If a commute is part of your return to the office, your time is likely to be squeezed during this transition.
To help motivate you as you go back to the office, think about what projects, teams, activities and individuals you want to be more connected with. How can you show up where you want to be? How are you going to distribute your finite energy and time intentionally? Are there certain things you’ve invested time or energy in that you want to continue? Or leave behind?