Take control with these five smart tips to help re-integrate Back to Office life into our daily routine as COVID restrictions ease. Depending on our line of work, some of us are going back full-time, while others have a hybrid back to the office schedule. There are so many questions going through our minds as we prepare for this shift both personally and with our family. It is essential to acknowledge this is not just a physical change and a mindset re-adjustment to transition successfully back to the office. Remote working has been challenging and rewarding at the same time. Take this change as the perfect opportunity to integrate some of the learnings and positive elements of the WFH experience.
Back to Office is NOT Like Riding a Bike
How long does it take to get comfortable in a new routine? Beware of the common myth that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. The 2009 study, How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world, focused on how long it takes to create a routine or pattern, by which behaviours become automatic. The study found that participants reaching 95% of automatic behaviour varied from 18 to 254 days. All of us are different in how we handle and adopt changes. Be kind to yourself, and remember there is NO magic number. We created this clever Back to Office checklist with five essential tips to help you transition more smoothly for yourself and help you enjoy quality family time.
5 Smart Back to Office Tips to Manage Stress & Anxiety
1. Understand the New Protocols in Place at Your Workplace
- Safety First. Read all communication from your employer carefully before returning to the office. Compare them to your own safety checklist. Reach out to HR and direct report if you need further clarification.
- Hoteling At Work. Many offices have also been re-calibrated spatially, resulting in fewer desks. The desks are often undesignated with a hoteling workplace format in place. Hoteling requires online pre-booking and selecting a desk or work-station at the office in advance. Take this as the perfect opportunity for a great view and book early!
- New Housekeeping 101. Do not forget to find out about the shared kitchen and fridge situation. IT may affect what you bring for lunch when you are in the office.
2. Start a Co-Worker Buddy System
- Get Ready to get Social IRL (In Real Life). Chances are, we are more likely to be socially awkward after working from home for this extended period. Start a buddy system and create a support system and new social face-to-face routines at work.
- Find Your Tribe at Work. Reach out to your favourite co-workers who share or understand your back-to-work reservations. There will be supportive input to help you calm your anxiety.
- Lunch Breaks & Coffee Dates. Rejuvenate your relationship with your co-workers. Arrange for lunch or coffee breaks. Re-building your social circle at work will help make this transition easier.
3. Plan Your New Morning and Evening Back to Office Routine
- Time Your Mornings Right. First off, time to set your alarms. Besides getting the family ready, make time for yourself too. Make sure you make enough time for yourself to start the day right.
- Start Your Day with You In Focus. Take your time to get ready for work. Pick your outfit. Do your makeup and your hair. This ritual will help you get more comfortable taking on the world in person.
- Change Commuting Time to Me-time. Re-calibrate this time as me-time without distractions from the family. If you are driving, sing out loud to your favourite music or talk back to your favourite podcast. If you are on the train, relish on a book or have fun on Wordle or Candy Crush with no one bothering you!
4. Integrate the Best of Your WFH Routine for a Better Work-Life Balance
- Preserve the Best of WFH Rituals. Besides the convenience of WFH, many of us discovered rituals and routines that benefit our mental health and home life. Work them into your schedule. Whether it is on your Peleton in the morning, taking a walk during lunch or baking cake, keep as many rituals that bring us joy.
- Create Boundaries for Work and Home. Many of us have blurred work time and personal time with WFH. We need to be more mindful to avoid burnout. Perhaps where you are, our government will be like the French government and pass a law that keeps businesses from requiring their employees to be available for workplace communication, like calls or texts, outside of regular work hours.
- Mental Health First. There is a societal awakening to the importance of mental health, and also in the area of work-related burnout. Talk to a professional and take advantage of the different available mental health programmes.
5. Be Kind to Yourself with Back to Office
- Adjust & Adapt on Your Timelines. All of us are different in how we handle and adopt changes. There is no mythical 21-day timeline to effect change.
- You Are Not Alone. Seek out support from your home and work circle. And do take advantage of the different mental health programmes now available.
- Adjust & Adapt Continuously. The first thing we all learn from COVID is the constant change and developments. Take this mindset in our Back to Office Strategy to smoothly transition back to the physical workplace.
Back to Office is Easier with Smart Preparation
Going back to working in the office is not easy. The common myth that it takes 21 days to form a new habit is not a benchmark for your personal adjustment. These 5 Empowered Back to Office Tips will help your transition and manage your stress and anxiety. Be honest with yourself about this life change. Do the legwork and prepare yourself in advance. Find your tribe at work to help you navigate and smoothen the Back to Office experience. Equally important, take this time as the perfect opportunity to optimize your work-life balance, including your me-time. And last but not least, remember to be kind to yourself as you ease yourself into this new normal.