We’ve all felt the pressures of COVID: social isolation, new work and school environments, health anxieties, and many more. In fact, millions of Americans found themselves working from home for the first time thanks to the pandemic. In the early months of all the uncertainty, as much as 66% of the workforce began working from home, even if just part-time.
Going back to the office is going to feel strange, especially if breaking from the monotony of the office environment was a great relief for a while. Here are some helpful tips for making the move back to a physical workspace easier.
1. Decorate Your Space
Returning to an office devoid of family or the comforts of home may feel pretty daunting. Transitioning from your cozy dining room table to your cold office is certainly a big change, after all.
To combat this, consider making your office feel a little more inviting by decorating it. You might choose to display some pictures from that unforgettable family movie night or maybe just a few motivational posters that encourage you to keep on moving forward.
Plants can also help brighten up the room and have been shown to help improve mood. Succulents like aloe vera and jade plants are low-maintenance and can make your workspace feel more lively.
2. Incorporate Aspects of Your Old Routine
Another way to get back into the rhythm of working away from home is to reincorporate habits and routines you engaged in pre-pandemic. Activities you might have taken for granted before could help you get back into the mindset of a regular workday.
Things like picking up coffee in the morning or visiting a favorite sandwich shop for lunch may seem trivial, but going back and doing them again can lend your new routine a sense of normalcy and comfort.
Maybe you used to listen to the radio or a favorite podcast while commuting. Reviving those traditions can put you back in a productive mindset and even be reasons to look forward to leaving the house each day.
Getting back in the groove will be hard, but reviving routines that helped you get through the day before can be a huge help getting back on a set schedule.
3. Remove Distractions
Work shouldn’t be overly monotonous or isolating, but you know how you work best and what will keep you doing your job right and well. Some of the ways you might have worked during the pandemic won’t work outside it.
So distance yourself from distractions. If it’s not required for your job, consider turning your phone off during work to prevent checking it. You can also keep yourself from getting off-task by limiting access to certain websites on your computer. Chrome extensions like StayFocused can help by only allotting you a certain amount of time per day on selected websites, ensuring you don’t accidentally drift over to Facebook or Twitter while on the clock.
4. Explore Your Options
Finally, explore the options your employer will consider with regards to a more gradual transition back to work.
Some jobs may never require you to return to a physical workplace. For those that do, though, consider asking for provisions to make the transition more paced and flexible. Perhaps you could start out working one or two days a week in person and the rest back at home. As you get more comfortable being back, you could increase the number of days spent away from home until things were back as they were.
If your employer is open to it, you could even consider requesting provision for a hybrid workplace of sorts. If your boss will allow you to set up a home office, you can still spend most of your time working from home and then pop into the office every once in a while to discuss major projects or just to catch up. This setup might not be ideal for all types of work, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to suggest the idea.
Getting back to work after COVID will be hard. But trying these few tips can help ease you back into the flow of things and maybe even make you a little more enthusiastic about work than you were before.