It’s time to re-calibrate!  Our days of working from home are coming to an end, and we’re heading back into the office. While there is no single approach to how everyone will return to their desks, it’s beginning to happen. 

A recent LinkedIn survey shows that 20% of those who answered are already back at an office another 19% are not returning to the office. The other 61% are waiting for a return date.  And how does everyone feel about it?  About 30% of office-based employees say they are not quite ready, while another 30% can’t wait to get back. 

If you fall in that “not quite ready” category, give yourself some space and acknowledge that it’s awkward, or perhaps even a little scary to go back to the office after the pandemic.  You’re not alone. There will be a new type of mental energy needed that we’ve never had to think about before. At Dynamic Works Institute, we’d like to offer a few hints for making that transition back to the office a bit easier.

Things may have changed since the last time you were regularly commuting. What does the road closure scene look like where you live?  Have bus routes and times changed?  Check it out before you leave home the first day, so you aren’t taken by surprise by orange construction cones or a new transit schedule. Consider making a dry run of your route to work.

Speaking of commute – it’s likely to be longer than the few steps to your kitchen or home office.  If you’ve gotten used to rolling out of bed and onto your laptop, you’ll have to build in time to get ready for work.  It may mean getting up earlier or preparing all of your things the night before so you can leave the house organized.

Let’s talk about wardrobe!  You remember what it was like to wear “real clothes” to work, right?  Do those real clothes still fit you appropriately?  Maybe Yoga pants are acceptable in your company culture, but if not, you’ll need to assess what you’ve got to dress in.  And don’t forget the air conditioner wars that happen in offices.  Do you have your office sweater around someplace handy?

One last step in prep – Pets! Don’t let thoughts of lonely rover stress you out as you get ready to go back. Take some time now to work out the details of dog walkers and bird buddies.

It’ll Look Different

While we’re going back, it won’t look the same way it did at the beginning of 2020.  Find out what the safety procedures are at your office and be prepared – masks, eat at the desk, elevator capacity? Coffee stations? You don’t want to show up that first day with an empty coffee mug only to find out that community coffee is no longer available.

Be ready to be flexible. Many companies are working out the details of a return now but won’t know how it will work out practically until there are seats in chairs. New protocols are NEW. They may not work right away, or they may need tweaking over time. Change is inevitable.

Take Care of Yourself

Monitor your stress.  We’re all moving into a new frontier at the same time. Each of us handles the strain of change differently. It’s been a tough year and a half. If you’re a manager, be sensitive to the fact that some employees will be anxious.  If you’re an employee, it might help to reach out to coworkers now to make the transition back to the office a bit easier.

Check in on your state of mind and make sure you incorporate some self-care into your routine.

We’re not going back to what it was, but we’re creating a new normal. It will look different. Remember, different isn’t always bad.  Some changes will be for the better.  Try to recognize and acknowledge the good.

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