The day has finally arrived: After months of working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the office is about to reopen. But what will it be like going back?
Transitioning to working from home took a great deal of preparation. Similarly, you can’t expect to return to the office and thrive automatically.
You may be thrilled to return to a more traditional work environment. Or maybe you’ve mastered working-from-home and would rather not go back. Either way, there are likely habits you’ve picked up that won’t be conducive to the office.
What are those habits? Nip the following tendencies in the bud before heading back to the office:
1. Sleeping In
You know how tempting it is to hit the snooze button. When working from home, getting ready for work takes less time, so you may have gotten into the habit of indulging that temptation.
When returning to the office, you can’t afford to slack. Sleeping in shortens the amount of time you have for a morning routine. Let yourself sleep in, and you’ll find yourself stressed out and off-rhythm.
If you’re having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, try waking to light. Also, consider starting your morning routine with an activity that makes you excited to wake up. And if the problem is the amount of sleep you’re getting, turn in earlier at night.
2. Poor Grooming and Hygiene
When you don’t have to physically interact with people during a workday, you might have let your grooming habits lapse. When you’re the only one who has to smell yourself, that’s OK.
In the office environment, though, you’ll want to be diligent. Be sure to shave, trim, shower, shampoo, and anything else you need to look and feel your best.
Remember that others are coming back to the office as well. Make it easier for them to share a space with you. Take care of yourself so you can all focus on work.
3. Not Dressing Up
Do you work from home in your PJs? Once you’re back in the office, that won’t fly.
Being comfortable is great, but sweatpants don’t exactly say “professional.” Be sure you look the part before and at your first in-office meeting.
How should you get into the swing of it? Make it exciting by buying some new clothes for work. Treat it as a chance to improve your fashion game.
4. Eating Junk Food
In the comfort of your home, it’s easy to grab a snack whenever you want. And who cares if you eat chips and queso for lunch every day?
At work, excessive snacking isn’t a smart idea. Not only is it a distraction, but you need to keep your energy levels high during the transition. Plus, unhealthy eating sets a bad precedent for others.
Make healthy eating easier by preparing your meals in advance. If you struggle with snacking, bring an apple or a bag of carrots. Alternatively, ask your employer to buy some healthy office snacks for the team to enjoy. Single-serve packaging minimizes the risk of transmitting the virus.
5. Bringing Your Work Home with You
The funny thing about working from home is that your work is literally home with you. This makes it more difficult to separate your work life from your personal life. And that’s not good for your productivity or your mental health.
If your work-life boundaries have blurred together, take steps to separate them. The following steps measures can help:
- Set limits on your laptop so you can’t access work-related things at certain times.
- Create an end-of-work habit, like taking a walk, that signals it’s time to stop thinking about work.
- Repurpose your work-from-home space when you get back to the office.
- Ask an accountability partner, such as your spouse, to discourage you from working after hours.
- Uninstall work apps like Slack from your mobile devices.
- Manage your mental health with habits like meditation, exercise, and yoga.
6. Constantly Checking Your Phone
Do you find yourself mindlessly checking Facebook or Twitter when you’re bored? When you’re working from home, there’s nobody around to see you goof off. But back in the office, constantly pulling up social media isn’t a good look.
Experts report that we pick up our phone 58 times a day on average. Most of these are not for intentional or urgent purposes. The result is aimless scrolling when we should be working.
Don’t let your phone control you. If you’re having trouble staying on task because of your phone, put it in a different room. Turn off notifications from apps that aren’t urgent. If necessary, block yourself from accessing certain sites until you get off work each day.
Every transition has a few bumps along the way. But if you plan ahead, you’ll make it that much easier on yourself. After all, you knew you’d have to head back sooner or later.