7 Tips For Preparing To Return To The Office

empty black rolling chairs at cubicles

You’ve worked remotely for a while, and you’re getting ready to go back in the office. You might be dreading it because reconnecting with everyone at the office can be hard if you haven’t seen them much during your absence.

Or, maybe you are excited because you’ve been working from home for so long it will be nice to be around people again.

Should you ease back into work after taking time off or should you jump right back in? Here are a few tips if you’ve been away from the office for awhile and are getting ready to start up again after working remotely:

1. Plan to embrace change

You may not have seen your co-workers in the office for months or even a year! That’s a long time, and people’s live have changed since the pandemic started in early 2020.

Each coworker will come with their own set of expectations about what does and doesn’t work — and has a different way they like things done. Be flexible, allow yourself time to adjust to all the changes around you, and go with the flow until you get settled in again.

Use any extra time during your transition to socialize with co-workers in person and find out what’s new with them. Be ready to embrace change. If you work in a fast-paced, growing company, chances are there have been many changes since you were last in the office.

2. Prepare for coworkers to move at a different pace

Take into account that some people may need more time than others to adjust back into the office environment. Use this opportunity to be proactive and ask them how you can help.

Adjust your working habits accordingly and be sure to allow them the time they need. It takes everyone different amounts of time to adjust to being back in the office so don’t assume that you will have things all figured out right away.

3. Prepare to have a good time

Being around people again could give you an energy boost and make work seem more fun. Find ways to motivate yourself.

4. Transition back slowly

Ease back into multitasking at your desk after working from home for so long. You may want to jump right back into leading meetings and being a part of conference calls but that might create more stress than it’s worth until you feel comfortable again. Starting off slow is the best way to make sure things go smoothly upon your return.

Try not to over-schedule yourself during this transition period . You may be tempted to take on every project and email that comes your way because you are eager to get back into the swing of things. Hold off on taking on too much until you’re ready, otherwise it could create unnecessary stress or even overwhelm yourself.

5. Do a quick check of your work area

When you first walk into the office, take a moment to do a quick scan of your desk and equipment. You will want everything set up just as you left it pre-COVID.

If there is anything that may have been moved or needs an update then get it updated as soon as possible once you are back in place at the office. That way, you won’t feel like anything was moved while you were away. Start off with confidence by creating a comfortable working space around yourself.

6. Get ready mentally for less autonomy and more interruptions

You will need to adjust mentally and emotionally. Returning to an office means less autonomy, more interruptions, and having to deal with other people again (not always a bad thing!). You’ll have to start saying “no” again, in order to protect the time you need for yourself, your family and friends. Getting back into a traditional office setting requires a mindset adjustment; think carefully about how it will affect you, and plan accordingly.

7. Continue healthy workplace practices.

Remember to drink lots of water, hydrate, stretch or take a walk during your lunch break. Bring hand sanitizer with you to the office so that you can use it often. Try to maintain distance from your coworkers who want you to continue to respect social distancing measures.