Are You Ready to Return to the Office?
Can you feel it? A sense of hopefulness, that this long season of the pandemic may be drawing to a close? That we may be able to see each other again, in person?
In my part of the country, the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, county health departments have decided to loosen the mask-wearing requirements in response to good progress on vaccinations, and the decrease in COVID cases.
Places such as gyms, offices, and churches that have a static population are now allowed to let their vaccinated members go mask-free in communal spaces. And people are loving it! Those of us who are open to the public with an ever-changing group of people walking through the doors are not yet eligible to go mask-free. Think retail spaces, movie theaters, restaurants, and, my business, flexible workspace communities.
As disappointed as we were to realize we weren’t included in the new health directive, we feel hopeful that our turn is coming. We have seen an uptick in people calling for information and scheduling tours. Most of those callers have concerns about safety and we inform them of all the COVID-safety protocols we have installed and continue to manage.
So, are you ready to go back to the office? Ready to leave the corner of your bedroom, kitchen table, or couch and talk to people who aren’t expecting you to get them a snack or take them to the playground? I mean, how many times can you discuss the Winnie the Pooh movie? Or sing along with Frozen?
BE PREPARED FOR VARIABLE EMOTIONS
The pandemic has been a traumatizing experience for all of us, even if you haven’t gotten COVID or lost a loved one to it. We all had to suddenly shift to a home-based existence. As the months have gone on, we’ve been through a lot and have made a lot of changes to our daily lives. It won’t be easy to let go of the precautions we have had to practice. Psychiatrists say, even after the acute danger of a crisis has passed, stress-related behaviors — whether the result of specific health concerns or the spillover of challenging family or economic situations — don’t magically disappear. Indeed, the American Psychological Association reports that a full 48% of vaccinated adults are hesitant to return to in-person contact.
So, be prepared for differing emotions and allow yourself time to adjust. Talking about your concerns is important and just acknowledgment goes a long way to alleviate the worry. You will find that you are not alone in these thoughts, which also helps with fear.
AIM FOR TRANSITIONAL RETURN TO OFFICE
While many people can’t wait to get back into the office, others will have found they prefer working from home. Getting used to earlier alarms, commutes, and rigid hours again will likely cause some level of stress. It’s a good idea to still be flexible with work hours (if you can) for the first week or two, just so you can get used to getting back into a routine. Scheduling your week and sketching out a few important to-dos will also help provide structure and make you feel like you’ve achieved something. Just don’t overload yourself; keep your expectations realistic or you may put too much pressure on yourself.
OUR OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE HOW WE WORK
It’s important to remember that the post-COVID world is different from pre-COVID. Rather than just passively falling back into your old working routine, try to treat returning to the office as a chance to rewire habits, set up new processes, and apply remote learning to craft a better way of working. Have conversations about future work schedules and set-ups early on, and be proactive about it – whether that’s asking your boss for remote work opportunities – schedule flexibility, or changes to your work hours. If you treat returning to the office as a brand new experience and opportunity in its own right, you can easily boost motivation and stay afloat easier.
THE NEW NORMAL
I know we have all heard this phrase—the new normal. Life will probably never go back to pre-COVID times, and that can be a good thing. I, for one, will absolutely mask up whenever I have a cold and need to go to the drugstore, out of courtesy for others. (Gotta do something with my collection of fun masks!)
I think a lot of us will be rethinking our commutes—pollution levels dropped drastically during the beginning of the lockdown and solidified our understanding of how much cars pollute. So whether you want to be more ecologically minded or you want to cut out the time-wasting hours on the road (or both!), figuring out how to work closer to home or from home is necessary. Working out of a flexible workspace center is definitely an option you can consider, so come in for a tour. The coffee is always hot!
About Office Evolution:
At Office Evolution, we provide virtual office, coworking, and private office solutions at our shared office center. We offer meeting rooms, offices for rent, hot desking in a shared workspace coworking lounge, a shared reception, a business address, and virtual receptionist services. We have many options and price points, and all terms are flexible. Plus, you become part of a community of like-minded professionals.
Office Evolution will help you be more professional, productive, and profitable. Visit our location page to see what office evolution is closest to you.