Many Americans have been working remotely since March 2020.
A year into COVID-19, 52% of adults reported working from home.
But today, as more and more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine, experts are anticipating a sweeping return to the office.
Granted, some companies—including tech giants like Google and Square—are allowing their staff to continue working remotely into the foreseeable future.
But others? Not so much. Many leaders are eager to get back to in-person work.
With that, this post will outline 10 tips for going back to the office post-pandemic:
1. Discuss the rationale behind returning to the office.
Be tactful, of course, but don’t hesitate to look into why company leaders want their teams to go back to the office. Do they believe their workers are more productive when they meet in person during business hours? Do they find meetings more engaging outside of Zoom?
Whatever stakeholders’ rationale may be, understanding it can help you adopt the right mindset when you head back to work.
2. Communicate your concerns with supervisors.
Worried that your child is still engaged in distance learning, and that you’ll have a hard time lining up childcare if you go back to the office too soon? Concerned about the potential spread of COVID-19 variants at work?
If there’s anything the past 14 months have taught us, it’s that flexibility and understanding matter. Be vocal about your concerns so that department and company leaders can address them.
3. Prioritize your mental health.
Feeling stressed about what going back to the office will look like? Know that you’re not alone. Additionally, you can ease this transition by keeping your mental health top-of-mind. Adhere to a regular exercise schedule, spend time in the sun, and eat nourishing foods.
While there’s no guarantee that going back to in-person work will be 100% stress-free, practicing self-care can go a long way in making the experience less anxiety-inducing.
4. Pursue part-time remote work if possible.
Just as many kids had the option to do hybrid school—a combination of in-person and e-learning—a hybrid work format may be an option for you. Explore whether your employer will allow team members to return to the office part-time.
Who knows? Maybe something along the lines of two-days-in-the-office, three-days-at-home is the exact format you’ve been waiting for. You might even prefer this to staying remote on a full-time basis.
5. Set up a check-in schedule with colleagues.
Remember when we mentioned that you’re not alone? That’s right: You have a whole team of people who are more than likely dealing with the exact thing. With all the uncertainty surrounding going back to work, you might want to connect with colleagues and set up a regular check-in schedule.
This will help you address your concerns together, put together a plan of action, and simply feel less isolated. Sounds like a win-win to us.
6. Bring face masks and hand sanitizer to the office.
So you’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19—congratulations. This means you’re very safe. That said, you’re not bubble-wrapped. (Kidding. Sort of?) Anyway, what this definitely means is that you’ll want to keep up with personal hygiene best practices back at the office.
From wearing face coverings indoors until you hear otherwise, to washing your hands regularly, continue paying attention to CDC recommendations.
7. Limit physical exposure to colleagues.
Going back to the office may be pretty exciting. But like we mentioned above, there’s still some uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. As such, you’ll want to stay vigilant and continue to prioritize your safety. You’ll also want to limit your physical exposure to colleagues.
Now, we aren’t necessarily talking about how that meeting could have been an email. We are, however, encouraging you to wear cloth face coverings when you converse with others, and to avoid using that (likely-washed) office cutlery at lunch.
8. Open your window (weather permitting).
Spring has sprung, and ventilation is now more important than ever. While we aren’t suggesting you go overboard, we do recommend that you consider amping up your workplace ventilation by cracking a window or two. Keeping the air flowing, according to researchers, can also help to keep COVID-19 at bay.
At the very least, you’ll want to ask your employer whether they’ve done anything to improve your office ventilation. You can address your window situation from there.
9. And open your mind.
So you’ve (possibly) opened your windows. Now you can open your mind. In all seriousness, though, don’t knock going back to the office until you try it. It might not sound appealing straightaway, after a year of sweatpants and Zoom calls, but with the right mindset, the experience can be energizing.
With that, try to open yourself up to the possibility of all the good that can come of heading back to in-person work. You’ll likely feel more social, for one, and you’ll probably have a much better handle on compartmentalizing at home.
10. Explore new opportunities if you’re unhappy.
What if you’ve opened your mind and you’re still unhappy? What if, in the wake of the pandemic, you’ve found you want to switch gears entirely—regardless of your remote-work status? This is all perfectly natural. It could indicate that you’re ready for a change.
If that’s the case, you may want to start exploring roles for your next chapter. You could begin working freelance, consider earning that graduate degree you’ve put off for so long, or look into remote opportunities you didn’t even know you wanted until COVID-19 swept the nation.
Whatever you decide, the professional options abound. And while there’s no way to completely prevent stress from affecting your return to in-person work, these strategies can help ease the transition. Keep them in mind the next time you feel overwhelmed about the change you might be facing.
Who knows? The results could be pretty impactful. You may even come to appreciate being back at the office.
Have questions or comments about going back to in-person work? Interested in learning more about the security services available at our firm? Please contact us for a free consultation.