Returning to the office after more than a year of working from home will be an adjustment. Even if you love your workspace, the people, your leaders, there is a lot of apprehensions attached to returning to the office.
However, you don’t have to go into this alone. There are some very real things you can do to prepare yourself and relieve anxiety. Here are a few things you can focus on that will help make your return to the office more manageable.
Before heading back into the office, reach out to your coworkers and have a conversation about your level of comfort with in-person interaction. You might find that some people are comfortable with regular hugs and handshakes, while others prefer no contact. Understanding everyone’s comfort level and make sure you share your own will take some of the anxiety out of initial in-person encounters.
While you were working from home, you might have established a daily schedule that will look very different once you return to the office. Think about what habits you’d like to maintain when you’re back in the office and where they can fit into your day. Understand that your energy level may be different after an entire day at the office and give yourself time to settle into it.
During your first week back, ask your manager for a one-on-one meeting to find out what your manager’s priorities are now that you’re back in the office. Ask whether expectations, deadlines, or processes have changed now that you’re working in an office together.
Keep in mind that it might take some time to get used to being in an office environment again. Most people spent the last year months alone or only socializing with small groups. Give yourself permission to skip any big office lunches or happy hours.
Also, give yourself and your coworkers some grace the first few months; going back on day one, or even the first week, won’t be perfect. Allow yourself and your coworkers the time they need to make this transition a good one.
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