Now that the pandemic is (hopefully) winding down, many of PSI’s clients are adopting hybrid work environments that allow employees the freedom to work both virtually and onsite. By the end of 2021, employees all around the world will likely be working across dispersed teams and/or leading dispersed teams. If you are one of the employees who will be returning to in-person work within the next few days, weeks, or months, we have four tips to help you prepare before heading back to the office.
1. Resort to old or create new schedules prior to your first day back
Children are not the only ones who benefit from routines! Many of us crave structure and thrive from it. Getting back into a consistent work routine can boost productivity and wellbeing. Consider pre-planning and prepping your lunches for the week to help take one more thing off your plate (no pun intended) during the work week. If you will be working in a hybrid environment, when possible, schedule your days in the office and at home for the week in advance. Creating and staying on a schedule helps us control the controllable, which we can all use a little more of after a year full of unpredictability.
2. Implement things that worked well while working from home
While we all hope that history does not repeat itself when it comes to the pandemic, many people can find at least a few positive changes they have made that they would like to continue. Maybe it was taking a walk at lunchtime instead of eating at your desk, or getting a workout in first thing in the morning instead of waking up and immediately getting ready to go to work. Challenge yourself to continue incorporating practices into your routine that have proven beneficial and produced positive results for you in one way or another.
And if you're a manager, this goes not only for yourself but your team as well. Provide flexibility to your team to keep practices in place that helped them adjust to working from home and can do the same going back to the office. There is a possibility that their personal life has changed in some capacity during the pandemic, so be empathetic and respectful of each employee's unique situation. In the end, working from a communal location does not mean our efficiency gains or overall wellbeing have to suffer.
3. Treat yourself
When you were younger did you get excited to plan out your first day of school outfit? Maybe treat yourself to some new work attire to generate some excitement to return to the office and celebrate retiring those pajama bottoms back to their original purpose. If that’s not in your budget, maybe it’s something small like ordering a new lunchbox or reusable bottle to carry your food and drinks. Another idea is to make a little more “you” time before heading back to the office. Read that book you’ve been putting off or go to happy hour at that new restaurant that just opened down the street. Whatever it is that gets you excited – do it! We all deserve it after this long year and a half.
4. Give yourself grace
Just because you’re back in what was once a very familiar setting does not mean that it will immediately feel like the world of old. Let's not forget that a job alone can be a major source of stress in our lives, and that's without uprooting our work location multiple times in less than two years.
Give yourself time to adjust and settle in. On your first few days – or even weeks – back in the office, consider scheduling some “adjustment” time on your calendar periodically. Ideally, this time would be meeting-free and dedicated to any activities to help you readjust to office life, such as catching up with colleagues who have also returned to the office, reacquainting yourself with the coffee machine, or setting up your desk in a new way.
Your mental health and wellbeing are the foundation of both your personal and professional life. In order to be a productive and successful employee, manager, or executive, you need to prioritize yourself. Utilize these practical tips to make the transition from a full-time work from home schedule to your new hybrid or in-office routine as smooth as possible. Oh, and even if your work environment isn’t calling for going back to the office, I still recommend treating yourself!