Returning To The Office Post-COVID – Are You Ready?

man in black jacket sitting on chair

Are you considering returning to the office post-pandemic? Now that restrictions in certain areas have eased, employers are looking to open offices back up and allow their employees to resume working in-person.

Professionals across Canada who have been working remotely over the past year due to COVID-19 could see a shift in their working arrangements, and will need to be prepared for potential changes and compromises.

Ease into the transition

It can take some time after being isolated behind closed doors to adjust to working in normal conditions again. You’ll want to ease back into things slowly. Don’t expect to be 100% productive or put in a full 8 hour work day right away.

Planning ahead and getting ready for your return to the office can make the transition easier. Schedule a team lunch; spend some time in the office alone before bringing others back so you can get familiar with your surroundings again. Consider having a weekly or bi-weekly team meeting over video conference, if your employers are open to this arrangement. Prepare for meetings that will be held within a physical office setting: set up teleconferencing equipment, print handouts beforehand, and review any items on the agenda beforehand (this will also help increase efficiency).

Returning back to the office should be done in phases:

Phase 1 – Start with one or two days per week at the office

Phase 2 – Work half-days on either Monday and Tuesday or Wednesday and Thursday initially for a period of time (can be extended if needed). Start earlier in the morning (or at least not as late) so that you are able to leave by lunch time. This will help reduce transition fatigue.

Phase 3 – Move to a more traditional in-office schedule, while continuing to be flexible with your schedule as you become comfortable working in a traditional office space again.

Your team may take longer than others to transition back into an office environment, especially if they were laid off during COVID and are now coming back to work again after being off for an entire year. It’s likely that some will need more time to readjust than others, so consider this when planning team meetings or encouraging collaboration among employees who are returning from remote work arrangements.

The Hybrid Office Model

Employers are transitioning to a hybrid remote-office model, in which employees work remotely yet may be required at certain times to come into the office for events such as team meetings or training days.

If you are comfortable with going back to a traditional office space after being remote for an extended period of time, then by all means jump on board with the rest of your peers. Continue building relationships and networking—but keep in mind that some may need additional time transitioning into full-time office life again.

Be patient with those who are taking more time to adjust back into the office environment. And feel free to let them know that you are available if they need help getting used to working again in a traditional setting. Your colleagues will appreciate your understanding and support.

Are You Ready To Return To The Office?

If you do decide to return to the office, it’s important you plan ahead of time. You can ease your transition by preparing for being back in a traditional office space.

In conclusion, moving back into the office after working remotely for nearly a year due to COVID-19 will likely be a challenge for some.  Your coworkers may need additional time and effort to adjust, so do your part to help them make the transition easier.

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