Comfortably returning to the office after a long hiatus is not a simple feat. It takes some planning – on a logistical and mental level – to plan for the return, no matter who you are.
From there, it could take several weeks before you feel fully back “in the swing” of things, and you might encounter some obstacles along the way.
Keep in mind that some people have not set foot in a physical workplace for over two years, and many of them are settling into a brand new work environment after switching jobs remotely. Let’s talk about how to stay comfortable at work in this new era, with practical tips to use right away.
Before you get your gear and outfits in order, start by setting expectations for your entry back into the “real world” workspace.
Recognize that working among other people in a physical environment comes with its own challenges and requires another level of preparation.
You’ll need to be socially sharper, more aware of your presence with regard to others, and maybe brush up on some interpersonal skills that might have gathered dust in the past couple of years.
There’s also a logistical element to consider when getting back to work, whether that includes a commute by car, public transportation, carpooling, or riding your bike. You may need to rework your schedule to accommodate the time spent traveling each day, or make extra time elsewhere to get to the gym, grocery store, or wherever else you need to be.
As human beings, we’re always more comfortable when we have a plan. Tie up as many loose ends as possible and leave nothing to chance if you can. That way, you can glide ride back into the office lifestyle without a hitch.
The office environment is not always known for being inviting or comfortable. This is especially true if you’re working in a sterile, fluorescent-lit space with the typical cubicle configuration.
This shift in setting can seem even more drastic after working from home for 2+ years and having all those creature comforts within arm’s reach during the day.
Therefore, you’ll want to create a space at the office that has similar features and conveniences, even if you can’t totally replicate the home environment. Bring along a coffee mug or two, have some snacks on deck, and don’t hesitate to add some pillows or cushions where needed.
This is the art and science of ergonomics – making the most of your space for productivity and comfort – so take full advantage of all the tools available.
The concept of “business casual” has evolved in recent years, along with all other aspects of how we work. Things have certainly loosened up in most work settings, save for maybe the upper echelons of banking, law, and other power-broker professions.
But when we reflect on what we’ve worn for the past two years or so during the work-from-home era, it’s hard to justify those outfits for any type of office environment. We’re talking about the hoodies, the gym shorts, the ratty concert t-shirts, and the flip-flops (if you even bothered to put on footwear at all).
There’s no shame in maximizing comfort for remote work, but returning to the office requires a bit of a makeover. The ideal formula balances sharp, business-casual style with a comfortable fit and flexibility that makes you feel right at home.
For instance, you can now find everyday joggers mens pants that look great at the office while keeping you chilled, relaxed, and comfortable all day long.
Video conference calls can get the job done when conveying key information, but there is so much more to socializing when you enter back into the real world.
If you’re like most people, it takes more than a “flick of a switch” to initiate social mode, so take some extra time to connect with people in the workplace upon your return.
Even if you spend an extra twenty minutes a day “making the rounds” or introducing yourself to new staff members, this can go a long way in easing anxiety and making everyone else feel more comfortable.
Let this be a reminder that everyone is in the same boat here, and it will help to communicate any questions, concerns, or thoughts that come up in the process.
Make no assumptions and clarify everything from scheduling to expectations of others, workloads, tech needs, and more. Managers and teammates can’t read minds, so set the bar high for communication from the start and everything will turn out for the better.
It won’t happen immediately, but soon enough, you’ll feel like you never left the office in the first place. Apply these tips to stay comfortable and productive – and even make your re-entry to the workplace more enjoyable.
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