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How to Face the Return to the Office

Nervous about returning to the office after working from home for so long? Read our top tips to help make the transition less stressful than it needs to be.

As of January 2022, the UK government’s guidance to work from home has officially come to an end. For some, the lifting of these restrictions comes as a blessing, a chance to socialise with colleagues and gain back some ‘normality’ once again. For others, returning to the office can seem a daunting and stressful experience. We’re here to offer some helpful advice to help make the transition back to the office a little bit easier and reduce any anxious feelings you may be having.

5 Top Tips to Help you Adjust Back to Life in the Office

  1. Create a New Routine
  2. Set Boundaries
  3. Look After Your Mental Health
  4. Be Compassionate to Yourself and Others
  5. Stay positive and focus on the little wins

1. Create a new routine

Returning to the office means long gone are the days of waking up minutes before your start time, grabbing a morning coffee and logging on in your pyjamas. Getting ready for the workplace requires an established routine - and earlier mornings!

Although many of us would prefer a few more minutes in bed, waking up earlier can actually make you feel happier and healthier. So, a new routine could be just what you need. Take some extra time to prepare yourself a nutritious breakfast, pack your lunch and take a refreshing shower. Ditch the loungewear or athleisure and put on something that makes you feel confident, and make sure you leave the house on time!

Running late, crowded public transport and bad weather are enough to dampen your day. Whereas, doing things that make you feel good can help you regain some much needed ‘me-time’ before work and set the right mood for the day.

And, once you're back in the swing of things, you can start incorporating a few more activities into your morning routine. Why not head to the gym a few times a week or meet a friend for coffee on your way into the office? The key is to slowly switch up your routine and see what works for you.

2. Set boundaries

Did you know that 61% are unhappy with their work/life balance?

Working from home has blurred the lines between home and work life, which can disrupt productivity and take its toll on your mental wellbeing. Whether that’s looking at work emails on your phone outside of hours, or just the presence of your computer monitor looming in your bedroom or lounge, work can easily navigate its way into your personal life, making it hard to switch-off.

Making the move back to the office gives you the opportunity to take a stance and set new, healthier boundaries between your personal life and work. It allows you to leave the office behind you, both physically and mentally. You may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to establish your boundaries, now that you are suddenly surrounded by coworkers all day. Why not try a couple of these tips?

  • Communicate your preferred ways of working with management and colleagues
  • Take breaks away from your desk and get some fresh air
  • Try to arrive and finish work on time when possible
  • Find a quiet booth to work, where available
  • Work a couple of days a week from home
  • Take your sick days and mental health days off without feeling guilty
  • Say no to working in the evenings and at weekends
  • Show others you are busy by plugging in your headphones or closing your office door
  • Don’t feel pressured to attend after-work or social events if you don’t feel comfortable

If you’ve decided to adopt a hybrid working arrangement, where you work part-time in the office and at home, there are still a few things you can do to cement clear boundaries while at home. Why not try blocking out time in your shared calendar to let others know you are unavailable outside of working hours? Or even turning off instant messages, video calls and email notifications altogether?

3. Look after your mental health

At times like this, it’s completely normal for your head to be all over the place. Maybe you’re nervous about hopping onto a busy train again, making small-talk with colleagues at the water cooler or handling difficult client interactions - whatever your worries, they are all valid!

However, as we all know, your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so you should be conscious of how you are feeling, address these emotions and seek help where you can. In turn, this will also help reduce the stigma around mental health in the workplace. Here are just a few ways you can support healthier mental wellbeing at work:

  • Strive for a healthy work/life balance through setting boundaries
  • Set achievable goals to avoid disappointment or burnout
  • Celebrate all your wins, however small
  • Get away from your desk from time-to-time and get some fresh air
  • Book yourself a holiday or staycation after busy periods
  • Don’t bottle up your feelings - resolve conflicts with others in a calm and professional manner
  • Speak to your HR representative about your worries or seek professional help where required

4. Be compassionate to yourself and others

The pandemic brought about a great deal of grief, stress and loss. Whether that’s a loss of a loved one, unemployment, cancelled holidays or missed opportunities, the whole world was faced with challenging times and are still processing everything that has taken place over the last couple of years.

Being compassionate means relating to someone’s situation, showing empathy and going out of your way to support others who are struggling. In the same way you may be feeling anxious about the return to the office, your colleagues may be too. So, we recommend that you treat others the way you would like to be treated - with compassion.

If you see someone is struggling to keep up with their workload or seems more stressed than usual, why not help lighten the load for them? This could be by literally taking on some of their workload or simply brightening their day with words of encouragement or an act of kindness. Anything as small as holding the door open for someone, asking them about their day or sharing a smile, can make all the difference.

However, compassion does not only apply to others. Being compassionate with yourself is just as important. What does self-compassion look like? A few ways you can practise self-compassion is to care for your physical well-being, book yourself in for a massage or go for a jog, and exercise mindfulness, try meditation or journaling. This can help you process all of your feelings and keep a clear head space.

From reduced risk of depression and lower anxiety levels, the benefits of self-compassion are endless - however you choose to do it!

5. Stay positive and focus on the little wins

The key is to encourage a positive work environment in any way you can. For instance, it’s best to keep conversations lighthearted to help ease others back into the office. So, why not practice talking about the team’s wins each week and appreciating all their hard work? This can help boost company morale and motivate your teams.

Although some of your team members may now be working in the office, remember that there will be some still choosing to work from home, so it’s important to be mindful not to make those colleagues feel left out. Go out of your way to check up on them and praise their work as well!

Go easy on yourself. After all, living through a pandemic is no easy feat!

About Preeta Ghoshal

Preeta is a content writer with over 10 years’ experience across print, digital and broadcast media. She has worked extensively in multi-media content creation. Her work reflects a mix of subject matter research and storytelling to produce content that is both informative and easily digestible. She is presently providing content support to each of the FDM programmes and the wider marketing team.


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