By Sam Ancer
Since the beginning of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, or more commonly known as Covid-19, a lot of us have had to get used to working from home. However, since the vaccine rollout and the easing of restrictions, people are now working in their offices once again. But with two years of working from home there is going to be an adjustment period for everyone heading back into the office. This can be a stressful period of adjustment as people get used to working in an office once again. We here at AES Global want to help you with our 5 tips to help you return to the office.
1 Establish a Routine
One thing that is crucial in leaving the work from home environment is establishing the right sort of routine. A routine can help us prepare for the days and weeks ahead and gives us a bit of control in our lives. A routine can also help us make sure that we are checking all of our boxes so to speak. It makes sure that we get enough sleep, that we are having breakfast and preparing our lunch, that we will get to the office at the right time. All of these measures help us reduce stress. It may also help to do an activity in the morning so that the start of your day is not thinking about work but rather on the activity that you have planned. This could be going for an early morning walk, working out at the gym, or even doing the crossword. Just give yourself that time in the morning that is just for you.
2 Set Boundaries
In that same vein it is important to establish boundaries in your working environment. Remote working during the pandemic made us all far more available during time that would normally be completely private. Use this opportunity to take back your home life. Communicate when something makes you uncomfortable or is too much of an expectation. Remember that the company or organisation that you work for is going to value your peace of mind because you will be able to do your best work. So if you are feeling overwhelmed or that a line has been crossed, it is important to stick to your guns and set your boundaries. Take the opportunity to set what you think are the best, and most appropriate forms of communication. If you feel like weekly meetings take up too much time and its best to just use email, communicate that. On the other hand if you think there is more value in face to face conversations then that is also something you should point out.
3 Be Patient
Remember that periods of change are often stressful even if the change is positive. Disruptions to our day to day lives can cause anxiety and so we must remember to be patient and kind, not only to others but to ourselves as well. This will once again be a period of adjustment so give yourself and your colleagues the space to adjust. This does not mean accepting unacceptable behaviour but do be aware that everyone has just experienced a life changing event, including yourself, and we are likely going to be very different people than those who left the office two years ago. So be patient with yourself but also your colleagues. Understand that your response to things is going to be coloured by the fact that you have not worked in an office with these people for quite some time. Your instincts will be off and you will need time to adjust to the change of working in an office once again. At the same time, give yourself some slack in that same vein. You can’t expect yourself to be 100 percent ready to be working in an office environment so do give yourself the space to adjust and do not be too hard on yourself if that takes time because it most likely will.
4 Appreciate the Benefits
While remote working certainly has some positives you should remember that there are some bonuses to working in an office. For starters you’ll be more active as you actually have a reason to get out of the house and move around. You’ll also be able to spend time in person with your coworkers and friends. We have all spent less time with friends and family than we had in the past, so make the most of your environment and have some face to face conversations with your colleagues. Your office might also have some internal perks like free coffee or work outings. Here at AES Global we get a monthly office lunch on Friday afternoons. Take the opportunity to build camaraderie and make friends with the people around you. A study published in 2021 on loneliness in young adults in South Africa indicates that there is a mental health crisis running parallel to the pandemic due to people feeling depressed because of their isolation.
5 Take Care of Yourself
Remember we are still in the middle of a pandemic, a life altering event. Make sure you are taking care of your mental health as it is still a significant issue in our current times. Communicate with your boss and colleagues when you are under strain. Make sure you are doing things that are life affirming. Whether that is spending time with family, or just doing a hobby, make sure you are actively doing positive things that make life worth living. There is more to life than just work, and you need to make sure those other aspects of your life are also a priority. If you are a manager or a supervisor do remember that your workers will need time to adjust and give them the space and opportunity to do that.
With many offices recognising the benefits of remote work and in office work a lot more companies have introduced a hybrid model. Usually entailing a few days a week at home and in the office the hybrid model is able to save costs and maintain communication. People are able to have work flexibility while also having a sense of community in the office. If your company is moving from remote work to a hybrid model, a lot of the tips already discussed will apply. Another thing that will be useful for you is to communicate to your bosses and colleagues. This will likely be a learning experience for everyone so it will be incredibly helpful if you are clear with how you are feeling around certain issues. Make sure you are maintaining a proper work/life balance and take time for yourself to make sure you are okay.
While it feels like the world is returning to some semblance of normal, we must remember that this return is another adjustment to get used to. There may be moments where you struggle with the changes and you must have patience and understanding for yourself and others at this time. Going through a historical event is not easy. We all want to be awesome professionals who get the job done no matter what, but try to remember the best way to do that is to take care of yourself and give yourself some space to be human.