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8 tips on making a smooth transition back to the office after working from home

Making the transition from working from home back into the office

Many of us who have been working from home (WFH) during the COVID-19 restrictions have developed some healthy routines thanks to extra time gained by losing the time-consuming tasks associated with office life. Working from home has also seen many of us become far more efficient; using those ten minute breaks from the desk on productive stuff like popping on a load of washing, prepping dinner, wiping down the bathroom or helping our partner juggle childcare. While keeping all our new routines may be mission impossible, there are certainly ways to keep some of the benefits – here are some tips on making the transition back to the office (or workplace) after working from home.

1. Explore whether you can maintain some work from home

Even pre-COVID-19, employers were increasingly placing more value on work/ life balance, and companies and employees alike have been surprised at how much more productive working from home has been for some. If you found that you excelled while working from home, and it is practical to divide your time, chat to your workplace about what they are happy to trial. On the days that you are required to be back in the office, make sure you continue to keep yourself safe from COVID-19 and other nasty germs by keeping-up your rigorous personal hygiene routines.

2. Adjust your expectations as you return to office life

Remember that learning to work from home was a big adjustment and going back will be too. So, while you’ll want to keep some of your new habits up and running, it pays to be kind to yourself and adjust your expectations of what you’ll practicably be able to keep up and achieve (alas, that pile of washing may rebuild, or the daily family lunch be reduced to weekends.)

3. Your pets will need to transition back to a ‘new normal’ too

It’s not just you that’s not looking forward to the end of WFH life – your furry co-workers have gotten used to, and enjoyed, having you around all the time. It is safe to say that as people return to work separation anxiety amongst pets will be at an all time high, so it is important to factor in time with them as you return to the office. If possible, try a gradual return to work, instead of going back 5 days a week go back 2 days to help your pet to readjust. If you’ve been walking your pet every day you should try to keep walking them every day, even just for 10 minutes after dinner, or alternatively you could organise a dog walker to come and take them out while you are at work. Read more about pet anxiety and how to manage it.

4. Work out which of your new habits are possible to replicate when you’re no longer WFH

While you may have to adjust the ‘how’, some of the tasks you managed to finally make time for while WFH could be replicated with a little imagination as you transition from working from home back into the office. For example, if you found yourself enjoying a daily brisk walk to get out of the house and clear the cobwebs, you can replicate this by parking further away from work or getting off the bus a few stops early – it’ll realistically only add an extra 10 minutes to either side of your commute. Doing the washing on a weekday is another luxury that many of us were able to fit in while WFH – instead of washing in the morning to hang-out the clothes by midday, try putting your washing in the machine the night before and setting a timer to start 1-2 hours before you wake up, that way you can hang out the washing before work so it will be dry for when you get home. Note: you may want to check the weather forecast to make sure there is no rain on your drying day!

5. Don’t forget to spend time with your partner

You went from spending 24/7 together to just spending an hour in the morning and the few hours between getting home and bedtime. Whether or not you enjoyed spending all the time together that was forced upon you by the COVID-19 lockdowns, it is important to remember that going back to work will mean less time to connect with one another. While returning to your weekly date night may not be possible, due to financial pressures or if your favourite restaurant hasn’t re-opened its doors to dine-in, setting aside time to spend quality time with your significant other can offer lots of health benefits. Marie Claire have a list of 50 date night ideas to try with your partner.

6. Take in the lessons you’ve learned and use them in your new ‘normal’

Those of us sharing an abode have been given a rare opportunity to see how our other half lives (and for families, an even rarer insight into what the day to day is like for the stay at home and the working parent.) While it’s not possible to continue the level of face to face support WFH offers, we can take what we’ve learned into how we run the household moving forward. Examples? Many the messier half of a couple have learned how hard it can be to work around piles of detritus now that they’re in it 24/7, while others have seen what a huge difference picking up smaller jobs around the abode can make to the overall running of the homestead.

7. Work out what you can live without

While some of the changes have made life way easier (who else loves being able to stay on top of the tidying up by using those 5-minute breaks to make the bed and put your clothes away) they may fall into the nice to have, but not realistically possible to keep up. Which leads us to point 8…

8. Be mindful and remember you are losing (but also gaining) something

While making the transition from working from home back into the office, it’s easy to get stuck on what going back to the office will cost us. What many of us fail to recall is that we also felt this way setting up WFH months back. Acknowledge the wonderful things WFH life offered, acknowledge what you’ll be sad to give up, but also remind yourself of the little ways you’ll be keeping some of these life improvers alive. It is also important to be mindful of the things you’ll be gaining with your return to the office: less Teams meetings, an ergonomic desk setup and Friday work drinks just to name a few!