How to Transition Back to the Office Post COVID-19
April 20, 2021 | Maria Sodaro for ASG 365
Personally speaking, I enjoyed the ability to work from home. It gave me the time to focus on my health and well-being as well as eliminated my near 1.5 hour commute daily. I was able to take that extra time to work with training my new dog, update projects around the house, and much more. So, for me, the thought of returning to the office on a daily basis is a daunting concept to cope with.
One of the many struggles faced during the pandemic was the inability to communicate in-person with your work friends- and now we're seeing that many of those relationships have been severed by individuals leaving their jobs. But, another issue is for those employees who were hired in the middle of the pandemic. They had to completely learn a new job through a computer and video calls and have yet to have the opportunity to create real-life connections with their new coworkers.
So, where do you even begin? How do you start the transition back to the 9-5 plus commute time? How do you feel comfortable in an office building full of other people you haven't seen in over a year?
Rethink office layouts
One of the most popular models of office structure that has emerged from the pandemic is a hybrid model. Here, workers work a few days in the office and a few days from home. This allows a limited amount of people in the building which helps with the safe distancing structure recommended by the CDC. Many offices have also taken the time to speak with designers and other experts about how they can rearrange their office space to be more suitable to the distancing standards we are currently experiencing. Wisp® is a great way to work on finding new layouts.
Use phases/ planned groups to return
Sending the entire office back on one day will not work. It just won't. You'll have stressed employees not sure how to feel, management who are overwhelmed, and groups of people gathering in one area.
Be prepared for any COVID outbreaks in your office
We weren't given much notice when the transition to working from home began and employers scrambled to ensure their employees were able to still produce work. It is important as employers to be able to quickly transition to working from home again. Having an IT Provider like ASG allows for a seamless transition that can be completed behind the scenes so that your employees don't miss a beat.
Plan and communicate desk cleaning
It is definitely important to consider hiring a cleaning staff who are able to sanitize regularly to help cut down on bacteria and germs in the office- even those besides the COVID-19 virus. But, another thing to communicate is the importance of staff keeping their desks sanitary and regularly wiping down hard surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes or cleaners. At ASG, we wipe down our desks and phones before we leave daily to help cut back on bacteria and germs.
Now for the more fun transition topics:
No, you can't take naps anymore
Let's be honest. Lunch hour power naps became a thing when we started working from home. Regular work hours are back- sorry to be a Debbie Downer. Don't feel overwhelmed when it comes to reacclimating- it will take a little bit of time to get used to the guy that goes 55 in a 65 in the left lane on the morning commute. It'll take a little while to adjust to being able to not get up for another pot of coffee every ten minutes or not being able to throw loads of laundry in and clean throughout the work day. (My house is going to be a hot mess when we're back in the office.)
Be empathetic and patient
None of us have had to go through this before. We are all learning, we are all adjusting, and we are all growing. Your boss is doing their best to keep the business running while also keeping all of the staff safe. But, the important thing to note, is that you need to ensure you have your boundaries set. Coming back into the office does not mean you should be taking on the job of the employees who aren't back yet. You aren't the cleaning crew either. Keep your own area clean but, it is not your job to keep the office sanitary. Unless you actually are the cleaning crew, then yeah... it literally is your job to do that. Sorry.
Embrace your wardrobe
No you can't wear sweatpants to work anymore. Unless you find a way to make them look super professional- like we're talking the Jenner style with heels. But, I still don't recommended trying that. If your job does require you to wear heels though, I would strongly suggest trying to walk around in them BEFORE going back to work. It's actually amazing how you forget to walk and then look like a drunk giraffe when you do put heels on. No, I'm not at all speaking from experience. (I am.)
Find time for yourself
It is going to be stressful. There's no hiding that. But, it can also be exciting. Change can be hard for a lot of people- especially when we were really just starting to adjust to being home all the time. My best advice, and something that I'm currently doing, is go to a gym! Stop on your way home from the office and get a quick workout in. Don't bring the stress home to your families. It isn't their fault you had a rough week at work. Not ready to get back to a gym yet? Good thing the weather is nice! Get outside for a walk or run. Take that time to shut your work brain off and turn your home/family brain back on.
We can do this!