We’re halfway through 2021, the end is in sight… but we’re all still working from home. Offices will soon start to re-introduce their employees back to their desks. It will be a strange time for all as we’re all now used to working from home and rarely leaving our self-defined workspaces. Yet, if we’re all to become productive and employable again we’ll need to get back into the routine of working 9-5.
A lot of homeworkers who haven’t had ‘proper’ jobs since the pandemic hit will find it odd to have an employer dictating when you need to be at your desk. It’s going to take quite some time to get used to again, so we should start preparing now.
The chances are, you’ve been coping with your makeshift workspace for the past year and a half. Getting back to your original desk will be a refreshing experience for your productivity and mental state. Your wonky desk, slow broadband, and noisy household will be a distant memory when you’re back in the office. But… just in case we get thrown into another lockdown in the future, you should consider switching your broadband if you’ve been struggling with slow web pages and freezing zoom calls.
The key to re-acclimating to an office environment is to start off small. Start waking up a bit earlier to compensate for the upcoming commute. Commuting will start to become a reality for us all again, and depending on where you live in relation to your office, can end up being a couple of hours a day. Getting used to this now will make it less of a mission once we all make the move back to the office. In some cases, it might even be worthwhile going for a morning walk before actually starting your job.
Once you’re actually in your office, try not to start working straight away. Make yourself a nice cup of tea and take time to read the newspaper. Find out what’s going on in the outside world. You might even recognise some people from your old life, chances are they’ll at least be interested in hearing about how you’re doing and if you’re still alive! Try to take a break once or twice during the day and have a chat with other people in your office.
Make the most of socialising! You might not remember, but it’s one of the best things about working from an office environment. Having like-minded people only a few feet from you will be a refreshing taster of what the future will hold. You will likely have forgotten what your co-workers even look like after looking at them through grainy, pixelated Zoom calls.
Post-pandemic anxiety is a real thing and should be taken into consideration even if you don’t suffer from anxiety, to begin with. We’re all going to be anxious when we go back to work, as well as our co-workers. A lot of people will be on edge and may not feel comfortable being around others.
There are a huge amount of people out there who are also anxious about going back to work, which may be a good thing, however. In an office environment, being around others is key to staying productive. Find someone who you’re comfortable with and see how they react when you go back to work within the next year.
Many of your old co-workers will be more than happy to hear from you and it’s a great way to make friends in the office again. We all have to do it even if we’re not particularly anxious about working as the pandemic has shown us that even the sanest can go off the rails at any time.
You’ll have plenty of other people around you who are nervous about going back to work with their old jobs, so take it easy on them.
You may feel like you’ve lost friends over the past year, but that’s likely everyone’s social life was put on pause over the pandemic lockdown. If you were one of the lucky ones who was on every pub quiz zoom call then you’ll have no problem blending right back into the social side of office life.
You’re going to want to prepare for a re-adjustment period in your mental state. You might need some time off work for a couple of weeks until you feel comfortable again around the office. If you have social anxiety, go for a walk outside every morning in the early hours before everyone else gets up. Meditate every night before you go to bed. Take some time to read up on what’s going on in the outside world. You may even be able to get a grip of how the public is feeling, this will have helped in the past, and may help you again in the future.
Once you’ve fully adjusted back into your new working environment, try to remember how you used to work before the pandemic hit. It’s likely a lot of your old habits disappeared during the lockdown, but you may not be aware of it.
It’s important that you don’t lose yourself in going back to work again. Whatever you do, don’t start working late and not getting up early again, it can destroy your sleep schedule and throw your entire life off-kilter. Get up early and go to bed early. This will put you in good stead for the next time you have to go back on lockdown.