If you’ve been working from home lately, chances are that you noticed some benefits and some drawbacks to the whole process. While Zoom meetings and glitchy Wi-Fi are popular work-from-home complaints, one major benefit is the flexibility working from home brings. When it comes time to go back to the office, leaving that flexibility behind may seem daunting. But there are ways to make the transition easy so you can appreciate what you’ve been missing this whole time (getting out of the house and interacting with real live people, for example). If you’re heading back to the office, here’s how to make the transition easy for yourself and your family.
When you go back to the office, you’ll likely have to wake up earlier than you have been to get yourself ready and make sure you have everything you need. If you’re a caretaker as well, you’ll have to make sure everyone else in your household is prepared for the transition. For that matter, start communicating what you need from them early in advance. That might mean planning timeslots for showers and making sure everyone eats breakfast. During the school year, this could also mean making sure everyone is dressed and ready to head out the door with their backpacks by a certain time. Whatever you need from your family, communicating your expectations in advance will reduce any stress on the first day.
Once you have a plan established, do a practice run to know what hiccups, if any, to expect. After all, you don’t want to be late on your first day back. If you have kids to drop off or dogs to take to doggy daycare, make the whole trip together, so everyone knows what to expect. This will also help you discover any issues with your planned route. Who knows, you might find that there’s construction on your traditional work route that slows things down significantly. A practice run will allow you to plan a new route and identify any other issues that pop up before your first day back.
Probably the best part of transitioning back to the office is giving yourself a reason to treat yourself to some new work clothes. Workwear is ever-evolving, and Lands’ End has mastered the art of dressing smart for work. If you want to go strong all day long, you’ll need clothes that work with you and not against you. You can easily find comfy casual pants that look professional but feel incredibly comfortable thanks to elastic waistbands and stretchy fabric. Don’t forget comfortable shoes as well, especially if you haven’t worn proper dress shoes in a while.
When you go back to the office, you might need to pack items that you didn’t have to before, such as extra face masks and hand sanitizer. You may also find yourself taking your laptop to and from work if you’ll be splitting your workweek between home and the office. And remember that refrigerators, coffee machines, and drinking fountains might be off-limits at first, so you may need to pack a lunch, a water bottle, and a spillproof coffee mug. You’ll need a bag that can handle it all, so look for canvas tote bags that are lightweight but strong. An open bag will allow for easy access, while a zippered bag will ensure nothing falls out while you’re traveling to and from work.
If you have concerns about going back to the office, even if they seem minor, you should feel at ease talking to your boss about them. You may find that certain rules have been relaxed and that your employer is a lot more accommodating than they used to be. For example, if you feel more comfortable slowly transitioning to a full-time on-site schedule while you sort out childcare at home, you may find that simply asking if you can split your time between home and the office won’t be a problem. Chances are they’ll appreciate you being upfront with them as well.
Going back to your old routine may mean switching to a more fast-paced lifestyle, but it will also help you appreciate your time at home more. When you come home from work, your home should be a place that encourages you to switch gears and be yourself. The last thing you want to see is your home office staring at you. If you won’t be using it anymore, why not redesign the space and make it a cozy anti-work area? Pack up your office supplies into some storage baskets to keep them out of sight. Buy some nice candles or flowers to give the area a facelift. Do whatever it takes to keep your work life where it belongs: at work.
Going back to the office can be an exciting time to reconnect with your colleagues and experience a change of scenery. But it can take some getting used to. These tips should help you get right back on track and ease into things in no time.