We are over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and since then many of our daily work routines have changed significantly. The majority of us have now adapted to working remotely. Our conference rooms have transformed into virtual meeting platforms and many operations are run online. Some advantages of working from home include saving time and energy on commutes, flexible schedules, and the comforts of being at home (sweatpants, anyone?).
Now with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations and our general desire to break free of the pandemic’s hold on us, it seems soon enough many of us will be returning back to the office in either a hybrid or fully in-person setting. For some of us, this prospect is exciting, for others it might be daunting. We just got settled into our work-from-home groove. Now we have to adjust again. Health and safety concerns are also still prevalent.
As we venture back to working in the office, here are four tips that can help you adjust:
1) Plan your (new) work routine
Your in-office work schedule may be different from the work schedule you had at home. It’s important to plan accordingly. Pre-pandemic practices of getting ready for work, eating breakfast, and commuting may be “new” again.
Lunch is another consideration. Is your usual lunch spot open right now? Is there indoor seating or only takeout? If you are bringing meals from home, is your office kitchen area open for employee use? These are all aspects to account for as you transition.
2) Continue to practice COVID-19 safety protocols
As COVID-19 safety protocols continue to evolve, be sure to follow the guideless set forth by the CDC and your employer. You may still be required to take your temperature before entering your office and wear a face mask when you arrive. Social distancing and using hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes can continue to help reduce the spread. Of course, if you are feeling ill, you should notify your employer and stay home.
3) Expect people to have different comfort levels
Everyone has their own point of view about COVID-19 and the precautions they take. It’s important that you and your colleagues set boundaries on what you’re comfortable with. Each office will enforce its own rules and regulations but be mindful of the little nuances that some may not be comfortable with. For instance, some individuals may opt for a wave instead of a handshake, while others may prefer that no one meets in their personal office. It’s important to be conscious of these preferences.
4) Re-introduce yourself to new colleagues
If you started your position during the pandemic or your co-workers have, you most likely haven’t met some of your colleagues in person yet. Or, even if you’re a veteran at your company, it may be difficult recognizing each other with masks on. Don’t hesitate to re-introduce yourself, and don’t take it personally if you aren’t recognized right away. It’s been quite a year! This also helps to avoid any confusion and awkward stares when trying to figure out “who is who” on the first few weeks back into the office.
Just as getting into the routine of working from home had its challenges last year, getting back into the routine of working from the office may as well. Take the time to plan ahead. Recognize what may hinder – and help – your transition back. And put steps and resources in place to help. We’re in this transition together!
Sonja is 2021 RDW Spring intern. She is a senior at Salve Regina University studying Marketing with a minor in Business Admin. She is enrolled in Salve Regina’s Joint Bachelor’s Master’s program and hopes to receive her MBA with a concentration in Social Ventures in May 2022. She is from Massachusetts and enjoys going traveling in her free time.