Since the government lifted Coronavirus restrictions on July 19th, people are no longer required to work from home and are encouraged to return to the office which has caused mixed feelings for many people, including me.
Having worked at home for 16 months now it has become a habit that is hard to break. I have enjoyed having a better work/life balance. Being able to work consistently and productively whilst still managing to fit in some household chores and daily walks with my dogs was, in my case, a positive outcome to being forced to work from home during the pandemic. A lot of people have felt the same. Since the pandemic began, we have established a new way of living which for many of us, was previously unthinkable.
Understandably then, the prospect of returning to the workplace has been met with mixed reactions. Amongst those I have spoken to over the past few weeks, there are some who feel excited to get back to work and have missed the social side of being with their colleagues. Others are resentful – they have made a big life change and adapted their routines significantly to accommodate working from home. They don’t want to go back to the office every day again and maybe experiencing ‘re-entry anxiety’. For some, the time spent travelling to work is seen as an unnecessary waste of time, for others, there is concern about mixing with other people again and the fear of contracting or spreading Covid.
As we begin to adjust it’s important to recognise that we aren’t returning to ‘normal’, because there is no ‘normal’ any longer, instead we need to be prepared to adapt to ‘now’.
Life cannot be exactly as it was before the pandemic but it isn’t going to be dramatically different either and there are lots of advantages to being able to get back to a version of our old schedules and routines.
The benefits of returning to the office
Research shows that those returning to the office are already finding that there are some benefits.
- Being back amongst colleagues helps restore ‘team spirit’.
- There is joy in collaborating – being able to ask for help easily or speak to someone who has information or guidance that you may need.
- The return of community – realising that some colleagues are also your friends. Being able to go for lunch or coffee with them. Reconnecting with the wider business community.
- Creativity is much improved by the ability to bounce ideas off each other directly.
- Visibility – getting your profile back, people remembering you, people remembering how good you are at your job.
- The ease of access to colleagues and other people, in the same room or building as you.
For those of you who do feel anxious about returning to work, take a look at this list and think about what is going to be the best thing about walking through the door and coming back to the workplace?
Then start to think about your logistics:
- Consider your travel plan – if you are nervous about taking public transport, can you walk part of the way or is there another way you can get to work?
- Build a new routine at home so that you can also take care of the things you have been doing at home.
- Prepare the kids – they have got used to you being very close. Prepare them and explain that this is normal.
- Anticipate the differences at work. Your workplace should be Covid secure which will mean social distancing and wearing masks in some cases or, you may be on a different desk or an alternative workspace.
- Plan to reconnect – Who have you not seen? Make a plan to meet up with them.
Of course, you can expect some small glitches. For example, you are likely to feel tired to begin with and of course, it can take time to reconnect – if you think you are going to get all of this done in the first week, you are pushing yourself way too hard. You must allow for the time it takes to get into a new rhythm.
Finally, it’s important to remember, we have all been through different journeys – keep in mind that whilst some of us may be excited to get back to work, others will be nervous and may have had a very difficult experience. Keep this in mind and above all, be kind to yourself and your colleagues.
If you are struggling encouraging your staff back to the office, contact us on 01473 653000. We offer professional HR advice to help you provide a smooth transition and all the necessary support your employees need as they return to the workplace.