How to return to the office after lockdown
The long awaited, maybe dreaded, email has come in saying that you’re required to return to the office.
Having spent the last three+ months adapting to the new normal, the thought of having to go back to life as we knew it before COVID-19 may seem a little daunting. The fast pace, the crammed commute, the long hours, and now to top it off the possibility that you could catch a deadly virus. YAY!
If you’re relating to the above, know you’re not alone. I’d be surprised if I spoke to someone who said they were genuinely looking forward to going back to the office. Working from home for a lot of us has given us the time and opportunities we’ve always dreamt of. My first piece of advice if you are worried about how you’ll cope returning back to reality is speak to your boss. Even more so if there’s child care involved. Now Coco (the little Chihuahua featured often on my stories on the gram) may not be a child, but she’s an anxious needy little thing that needs my care. So having spoken to my boss they’re open to her being in the office. It’s the little things that can make going back seem a little less of a hassle.
The rest of my Return to Work list consists of;
1. Write out your new routine
I mean every single little detail.
When you’ll have to get up to allow enough time to get ready and get to work. (this may take longer than it used to, if like me you’ve completely forgotten what dressing in anything other than gym clothes is like)
When you’ll fit in your meals.
When you’ll fit in your steps or exercise.
What you have to do during the weekend that you’ll no longer get chance to do during the week.
You get the idea.
It may seem overkill, but being prepared means that it’s one big stress less when it comes to getting on with your day. If I don’t plan when I can fit my meals in around the rest of my day, I get thrown off completely and that’s when sh*t can get nasty, once your gyals hangry there’s only going to be trouble.
There’s also the opportunity to freshen up your old routine. Were there things about your old routine that you didn’t like? Can you make your new routine more adaptable?
One thing for me that’s a huge impact on routine is the gym. Not that they’re open just yet, but I’m not planning on retuning any time soon. My gym is now at home, which will make my evening routine a hell of a lot easier!
2. Get prepared
Prep your food.
Prep your mindset.
Prep yourself emotionally.
Prep your handbag full of sanitiser.
Food prepping is easy, work out when you’ll eat, what you’ll eat then bulk batch cook it and store 3 days in the fridge, the rest in the freezer. Just take the meals out the night before and pop them in the fridge to defrost!
Mindset prepping may sound silly, but you want to go back into the office with an open mind. Start thinking about the future again, what were your plans before lockdown? How can you get back on track with pursuing these goals? You also need to prepare yourself to be extra mindful of your colleagues and those around you. They’re probably feeling exactly the same as you, and you’re all in the same boat. So making sure you’re supporting one another, adhering to the guidelines and ensuring you’re all staying safe is imperative.
Emotional prepping. Okay so it will be hard. Going back to work will be hard. It will be a test for a lot of us. Some of us may be super excited to get back, others may have their anxiety boiling up inside telling them that the unknown is too much to handle.
One thing you can do is journal. As i’ve spoken about before, it’s a great method for handling your emotions. Write down everything that could possibly go wrong. Then go back over your list and write down how you would handle each thing if it did happen. By planning ahead, you can keep your anxiety under more control and know if something did come up, you have a plan on how to tackle it.
Don’t forget to prioritise your own health. Wear a mask. Even if you feel stupid. No one cares. We’re all in the same boat. Take your hand sanitiser. Take some antibac wipes for your desk. And anything else you can think of that may come in handy when it comes to hygiene!
Food. Commute. Fuel. Coffee.
Now you’re no longer in the comfort of your own home, it may be time to have a look at your budget. You’ve no doubt been spending less during lockdown, so planning and ensuring you’re covering your costs going forward is important. The little things you don’t think about can eat into your monthly allowance!
4. Let people know
To avoid getting a sudden FaceTime from a friend in the middle of a meeting, make sure you tell the important people in your life that you’re going back to the office and won’t be just sitting around in your pants anymore.
5. Have a sulk
We’re all human here. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to go back to work. There’s also nothing wrong with having a little cry about it. Sometimes holding in our emotions and constantly trying to act like we’re okay and handling everything life throws at us can be overwhelming. It can bubble up then explode. It’s okay to be weak. It’s okay to accept your own feelings.
6. Understand and accept that things will probably be different - the office, the vibe, the way people are. There’s a chance nearly everything will be different.
Finally, a great way to allow yourself to move onto the next ‘phase’ is acknowledging and being grateful for the time spent in lockdown. I for one am so grateful, it’s given me so much time to spend with my family and loved ones that i would never have had before. It’s allowed me to grow my business and get things in motion which I previously struggled to find time to do. It’s helped me grow mentally and physically and although it wasn’t without it’s struggles, I feel like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity we should all appreciate having had.
If you have any questions about returning to the office email me firstname.lastname@example.org I’m always here to offer as much help and advice as I can.
Thanks for reading,