The pandemic cast many of us out of the office and kept us captive in our homes for months. We traded in our work clothes for sweatpants, moved our meetings from the conference room to Zoom rooms, and converted our living space to office space. Working from home was a challenge for most at first, but we slowly adjusted to the circumstances.
Recently, we’ve been told we can start easing our way back to normal. The problem? Normal feels like a lifetime ago…what does ‘normal’ even look like anymore?
For some, it could be hard to come back to the office full-time; some may have found they like work from home better, and others might not feel ready to return just yet. No matter what your reason is for feeling anxious about the daily trek back into the office, here are some helpful tips to make the transition a bit easier.
A business can thrive when it has created a culture that enables its employees to thrive. Office culture is one of the most important assets for recruiting and retaining talent. When employees enjoy their jobs, communicate well with each other, and believe in the mission of the company, they’re more inclined to produce their best work.
However, culture is a delicate ecosystem that must be maintained. When COVID-19 hit, people were no longer able to have consistent, in-person interaction with each other in the office. It’s hard to maintain in-office culture when there is no office to go to. Instead, most people were isolated with nothing to do but stare at a laptop for hours daily, and that can take a toll on anyone. Getting back to the office will help employees reestablish the comradery and team spirit they’ve lost over the last year professionally – and personally.
By now, we’ve all mostly adjusted to a remote work routine. Your ‘new normal’ might consist of waking up a few minutes before work and making your daily commute across the hall to your “office”. Getting reenergized can be tough, but people are creatures of habit! Start waking up at the time you would for your commute to the office. Pack yourself a lunch in the morning or meal prep the weekend before a long work week. Put on business casual attire – shoes and all. A gradual return to your schedule before the pandemic could save you from experiencing shock when you do go back.
COVID-19 made us miss the simplest of things. You may have missed dining at restaurants with friends or going to the movie theatre. Going back to the office is an opportunity to indulge yourself and do all the little things you’ve missed. Let this be a celebration! Make a list of things you’ve missed most about being in the office and cross them off as you complete each one. Here are some examples:
Having a back to the office bucket list will give you something to look forward to when going into work every day. You can even take the idea a step further and make official plans with coworkers to cross items off your lists together. Your list will serve as a great reminder after the pandemic to cherish the little things in life.
More than likely, your leadership has a plan for the transition back to the office. Listen closely to their plan and speak up if you have additional ideas. Everyone is looking to make the transition back as easy as possible. Expressing your fears, worries, and expectations gives leadership a better idea of how to craft a plan that works for the whole team. Employees that don’t feel safe or happy at work will be too preoccupied to perform to the best of their ability. So, don’t be shy to reach out to your leadership, and don’t be afraid to be honest.
Making a smooth transition back to the office may seem daunting, but it can be done. The SRB team knows because we did it! Our CEO, Dr. Sheila Brooks, believes the office is, “a special place where people can be creative and collaborate to create amazing work.” She supports and has followed D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s initiative to get the city back to work and back to the office. Dr. Brooks was constantly communicating the most current updates for D.C. to the team and had clear steps planned to safely get the team back in the office, once vaccinated and certain restrictions were lifted.
Transparency needs to come from both sides. Employers should be honest about their plan and, in return, employees should give honest feedback. Now, we’re all back in the office and loving it. Just take a look!
Post-pandemic, work for a lot of people probably won’t ever look the way it used to. Some businesses have chosen to go fully remote, and others are trying out a hybrid approach. For those destined to be back onsite, use these tips. It’s important to embrace the positives and check-in with yourself regularly. It’s a unique process for everyone, but honesty will help guide you through it.