The day has finally come. You just received an email from your boss stating the official date employees are expected to return to the office. *Gulp.* Cue the mixed emotions.
Whether you’re anxious or excited about the news, going back to the office is a big transition. Considering many people have worked remotely for about a year (or more), returning to a pre-pandemic workplace environment can take some preparation and mindset shifts.
Here are six specific tips to help you prepare for the great return.
1. Limit the decisions you’ll have to make in the morning.
Do you have those days where you just can’t decide on the right outfit? It’s not only overwhelming to make a lot of decisions before the workday, it can be time-consuming and mentally draining. It’s no wonder that some of the most notable business people wear the same outfit every day, eat the same things, etc.
Though we don’t need to go to that extreme, it’s nice to prepare certain things beforehand to limit the morning decisions and stress. The night before going back to the office, plan your work outfit, prepare and pack your lunch, get your work bag put together, and make sure you have gas in the car and/or your public transportation pass ready to go.
2. Leave early.
The return to work can feel like the first day of work all over again. Make sure to leave earlier than you usually would to reduce unnecessary stress. For those that have long commutes to work, traffic patterns may be different than they were when you were going into the office pre-pandemic. You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to commute and get your mindset right.
On the topic of commuting, use that time to get inspired and motivated by listening to an energizing playlist or inspiring podcast.
3. Don’t forget headphones.
After a year or so in your own controlled environment, being back in the office can bring some distractions. If you’re working on something that needs your undivided attention, wearing headphones can help signal to others that you’re in the work zone. Also, listening to your own music or favorite podcast can add a little joy and comfort to your day as you work.
As we go back to the office, it’s so important to incorporate actions that make you happy throughout the workday.
4. Explore flexible options.
As employees return to the office, many workplaces are extending flexible work options to get acclimated again. Work options like continuing to work remotely a few days out of the week or flexible hours to decrease the number of workers in the office at once. This is your reminder to look into your workplace’s policies and accommodations for flexibility.
If you have the option to slowly ease into going back to the office, it will definitely make the transition more comfortable.
5. Take your lunch break.
Being back in the office can make it easy to fall back into old habits, like staying glued to your desk all day. We all love productivity, but you also need to take care of yourself. There’s nothing wrong with taking a mental break every now and then, whether you’re in the office or not. A great way to give your eyes and mind some rest is to close the computer and actually take your lunch break away from your desk.
6. Practice gratitude.
The last year has been emotional. Extend gratitude and grace to yourself. Not being in the office took some time to get used to, going back will surely take some time as well. As you’re adjusting back to office life, make sure to be kind to yourself and incorporate gratitude on the daily (I know you hear about gratitude a lot, but it really can help your mindset!). If you’re struggling with this workplace shift, focusing on the good things about it, like seeing your coworkers again, can help make it a more positive experience.
If you’re feeling anxious about the return to the office, for any reason, know that you are not alone. Take a deep breath, prepare in advance, and don’t be hard on yourself. You can do this!
About the author: Abby Zufelt is the founder and host of Working Girl Talk, a podcast that covers the latest business and tech news, specific career tips, and interviews with inspiring businesswomen. When she’s not podcasting, Abby oversees digital marketing at one of the nation’s top journalism schools and leading public media organizations. Follow @workinggirltalk.