As Covid restrictions are being eased all across the world, a large number of companies are expecting their staff to come back to the office and resume their regular work routine. But with many employees heading back to the office for the first time in months, it’s difficult to tell what the post-pandemic workplace will look like. Will companies expect all their employees to go back full-time, or will they adopt a hybrid work model? Will there be more flexibility or will everyone return to their pre-pandemic work patterns?
There are certainly a lot of questions that still don’t have a clear answer, and that’s definitely not making things easier for workers and their families. With no clear return-to-office date or a good understanding of what the new normal actually means, the prospect of going back to work is rather daunting for the majority of employees.
Although some people might think that going back to the office is like riding a bike, things are not that simple. Even if the new routine is the same as the old one, the long hiatus in between can make it difficult for workers to readjust to office life. Apart from that, people adapt to change in different ways, so it’s obvious that the process will not be the same for everyone.
So, if you’re worried about returning to the physical work environment, here are some clever ways suggested by the best management books to make the transition smoother.
Understand your company’s new protocols
For most people, the real problem with going back to the office is that they don’t really know what to expect. There are many unknowns in the equation that can make you feel anxious and nervous, even if there’s nothing to fear. So, the first thing you should do is get familiarized with your company’s new protocols and policies.
The HR and management department should provide you with all the necessary information regarding schedule, work environment and requirements, safety measures, and so on. Once you know exactly what steps you have to take to return to the office and how your workday will be organized, you’ll see many of your fears fading away.
As you’re preparing to leave the comfort of your home, you also have to remind yourself about workplace risks and hazards. According to Accident Claims specialists, in 2020/21, the number of self-reported non-fatal injuries suffered by workers in the UK exceeded 440,000, and workplace accidents can happen in any type of environment. This should serve as a reminder that you should not leave your guard down while at work if you want to stay safe and protected.
Reinstate the morning routine
When working from home, a lot of people decided to ditch their morning routine out of comfort or because they didn’t see a point to it since they didn’t have to leave the house. But now that you’re going back to the office, you’re going to meet people face-to-face and there’s probably a long commute waiting for you, it’s time to bring back the morning ritual, so you can start your day on the right foot.
You’ll no longer have the possibility to simply get out of bed, turn on your laptop and start working in your pj’s, which means you’ll have to manage your time properly so you can get ready and arrive at work on schedule. You’ll probably have to wake up a bit earlier (don’t forget to set your alarm) to take a shower, pick your outfit, eat breakfast, or sip a cup of coffee. And, obviously, you must take commuting time into consideration.
Reconnect with your co-workers
You’ve probably kept in touch with your co-workers via email or video calls, but nothing compares to face-to-face interactions and the coffee break chats that helped you bond better than any team building organized by the company. Since you’ve been away from each other and you haven’t seen any of your co-workers in person for such a long period of time, you might have trouble socializing in the beginning.
Although reconnecting with the people around you might prove a bit awkward and difficult, you have to realize that most of them are probably going through the same things as you are and they’re experiencing similar difficulties. It’s a matter of time until you’ll feel comfortable interacting with people again and go back to your usual coffee chats.
Your needs might have changed during the time you were working from home. Maybe you had a baby, your financial planning situation might be different or you might have other responsibilities to take care of at the moment. No matter what’s going on in your life, if it has a direct impact on your work, you have to inform your employer about it.
Honest and open communication with your employer is key to ensuring a healthy professional relationship and a work environment that will meet your needs and requirements. This will help you perform your tasks at the highest standards and stay productive in the long run.
Use what you’ve learned while working from home
Transitioning to a work from home model posed a series of challenges for both employers and employees, but it also served us some important lessons. There are things you might have discovered about yourself and your work style at home that you probably didn’t have a clue about before making the switch.
Now that you have to transition back to a physical office environment, you can use the lessons you’ve learned while working from home to your advantage. Many of the techniques and strategies you’ve employed to maintain focus and productivity at home can be successfully transferred to the office landscape with small adjustments.
Going back to the office, as daunting as it might be in the beginning, can actually be a positive change after all this time spent in isolation. You just have to give yourself some time to adjust and adapt to the new normal, and you’ll be able to enjoy a much smoother transition to the physical workplace.