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After over a year of working from home, many of us are now preparing to head back into the office. For some, it’s like Christmas! There’s the anticipation and excitement of returning to this phase of normality, hanging out with our co-workers (BFFs!) and that sense of socialisation once more. For others, there’s a feeling of dread and doom. Whatever camp you are in, you may face some new challenges as we handle this change.

We won’t all be in the same place

First and foremost, we’ll not all be in the place mentally about having to return to the office. As highlighted above, some will be super eager and excited to be among their colleagues and friends once more. Or you may notice that others may be more apprehensive and may well notice behavioural changes in your colleagues; they can seem more distant, quiet, and withdrawn than they use to. This will likely be temporary as they warm to the change.

Until you (and your colleagues) find a rhythm again, be mindful of each other’s space- wait for them to state how they’d like to engage or if you’re feeling uncomfortable, you can say what you’re comfortable with. Above all, be understanding of how challenging this may be and lend a hand if you can.  

Go prepared

It’s important to remember that the virus is still very much present and we’re not completely out of the woods yet. Although we’ve seen the back of most laws, there is still a lot of guidance in place to ensure our safety.  Be sure to always follow the guidelines and the plans set out in returning to the office- your work will have conducted a health and safety review which you should have been privy to. Play your part and follow the restrictions in place.

If you’re feeling particularly anxious about the virus (I’m with you on that!), make a note of everything you need to take with you and that will make you feel comfortable. Allow yourself plenty of time to travel in, set up and get comfortable again. Be sure to take a break at lunch and if you can, take a walk and get some fresh air.   

Speak to your employers

Any concerns, worries, or issues you have, be sure to talk to your employers. It’ll be no good bottling up any problems you may be experiencing in returning to the office. The last thing they want is for staff to end up on sick leave or any risk at making the office unsafe. Whether it’s to discuss a phased return, options to working from home, or suggestions you have that could help with the transition (regular testing for example), or to have an open discussion that could help to alleviate any concerns would be best to get out in the open.

Try to enjoy yourself

There is no doubt that it can be a challenging prospect and action returning to the office after so long at home. However, we’re social beings! Humans thrive in human contact and although we can’t touch each other yet, a shared joke, the chance to chat to someone- other than the cat, and to feel the thrill of the hustle and bustle will help to spread some of those happy hormones.

Take care of yourself

Finally, be sure to allow yourself some space at the end of the day. It may not happen immediately, but you could feel quite overwhelmed after suddenly going from seeing no one and doing nothing, to seeing lots of people and being out several times a week. Plan in some down time to allow your body to relax and process the day. A good bedtime routine will help to calm your active mind (it may go into overdrive) and ensure you get a restful sleep, ready to tackle it all again the next day.

How do you feel about returning to the office? If you’re back already, how are you finding it? Let us know in the comments below.

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