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Your Guide to Mentally & Physically Preparing Yourself to Return to the Office

man sitting at desk laptop with face mask office open space

How to get yourself ready to return to the office and the “new normal”

Preparing yourself to go back to work in an office after months of isolating and working from home is a huge shift. COVID-19 is still present and impacting all of our lives. It’s important to make sure we are doing the best we can to take care of ourselves both mentally and physically.

This article will provide helpful information for keeping your personal supplies clean, staying positive in this difficult situation and visualizing what the “new normal” may look like when your office reopens.

Empower yourself to ask questions

Don’t be shy, ask questions! And keep asking them until you have a full picture of what to expect when the office reopens. Here are some example questions that may help:

What are the steps your office is physically taking to reduce the spread of germs? Physical changes can include: physical barriers and/or more spacing between desks/workstations, screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms and reduced seating in common areas.

What are the new office policies for social distancing and wearing masks? Practicing safe social distancing can be difficult in crowded areas. Ask if shifts are being staggered to reduce traffic in elevators and other communal areas. Make sure you know where and when face masks are required.

Is there a coronavirus committee or coordinator that can address employee issues? Keep in mind that this is new territory for your company too. Employee feedback can help improve new policies. Make sure you know who to contact if you have a question or issue that hasn’t been addressed.

What is the procedure should you become ill? Being sent home is a given. It’s important to also know what documentation is needed should you require extended time off work and/or disability pay. It’s also a good idea to get a copy of your company’s COVID-19 return-to-work requirements up front.

hand sanitizer desk face masks markers tupperware work fridge lunch break
Keep track of supplies with labels you can disinfect. No-iron clothing labels (Avery 40720) work great for face masks. Avery 61501 can be easily cleaned and are just the right size for your hand sanitizer and office supplies. Dissolvable labels you can personalize are perfect for reusable lunch containers.

Control what you can: get involved and keep your supplies clean

The American Psychological Association (APA) provides a great list of general tips for stress caused by uncertainty. One tip from this list is “control what you can.” This can range from keeping your supplies clean to helping develop your company’s coronavirus safety plan.  

Get involved with your company’s plan to reopen the office. If they have a concrete plan in place, simply ask if there’s anything you can do to help out. If your company is still developing a coronavirus safety plan, take initiative and ask if you can help research how to reopen the office safely.

Keep your personal office supplies separate from others’ and sanitized. The CDC recommends high-touch surfaces be cleaned daily to help protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Labels for personal supplies will need to be easily identifiable and easy to clean as needed.

Keep track of your face masks with washable labels like our no-iron clothing labels and iron-on fabric transfers, which can all be washed in a washing machine. Label items like your personal hand sanitizer and office supplies with durable ID labels that can withstand common disinfecting wipes.

If you bring a lunch to work, make sure you’re using labels to help people avoid touching your food. Dissolvable labels keep track of your reusable food containers and come off easily in the dishwasher or by handwashing with warm water.

calendar dry erase wooden table cork board laminated cleanable sanitize
Take some time for yourself and enjoy fun (yet practical) DIY projects to help you relax. Try making your own laminated calendar or personalized removable decal stickers using Avery 61512 and our free decal template.

Be kind to yourself if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed

Some people will adjust to the difficulties of working during a pandemic faster than others. Try not to compare yourself to others or beat yourself up if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Instead, try these tips to help you stay positive and motivated:

Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep. Explore stress-relieving activities recommended by the Mayo Clinic such as yoga, journaling and meditation.

Exercise compassion and kindness. Not only does it make you feel better, but it may also give you a competitive advantage in your career.

Seek support. Social support from friends and family is an important coping mechanism. Stay connected to friends and family with phone calls and video conferencing, or even make your own greeting cards for each other.

Organize your schedule. Help reduce stress for your family, coworkers and yourself with home and work calendars. This can help keep your routine running smoothly, giving you one less thing to worry about.

Set up two calendars (one for work and one for home) that can be used with dry-erase markers.

You can use a store-bought whiteboard calendar or make your own with a self-laminating sheet and calendar template.

Find the joy. It can be as simple as sharing funny memes on your break or making a list of all the things you love about your career.

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Help lighten the mood using our fun templates for t-shirts and face masks that come in options for dark fabric or light fabric. Set coworkers at ease by using floor decals for communicating your social distancing boundaries.

Reconnect with your coworkers— be social (from a distance)

Research has shown that socializing (or lack thereof) can affect both physical and mental health. While socializing at work during a pandemic may seem more easily said than done, it’s not impossible.

Find ways to have fun together while limiting contact. From 5-minute activities the team can do in a group chat, to creating a customized virtual game night, there are plenty of remote team-building activities you can do to help the team adjust to socializing from a distance.

Help set your coworkers at ease by setting and respecting boundaries for social distancing. For example, use vinyl floor decals near your desk to show people where they can stand at a safe distance. Taking the guesswork out makes you more approachable.

Find creative ways to share humor that you and your coworkers can bond over. If your office has a casual dress code, try wearing a fun t-shirt or customized face mask to make people chuckle. You can easily create your own with fabric transfers for light fabric, dark fabric and even stretchy t-shirts!

More resources for going back to the office during COVID-19

It may be challenging to switch from working full time at home to going back to the office. However, you can prepare yourself mentally & physically by asking questions, focusing on what you can control, reconnecting with your coworkers and being kind to yourself.

For more help easing the transition when your office reopens explore these resources:

Products Featured in this Article

Washable No-Iron Fabric Labels 1/2" x 1-3/4" (40720)
Durable ID Labels 7/8” x 2-5/8 (61501)
Dissolvable Labels 1-1/4" x 2-3/8" (4224)
Self-Adhesive Laminating Sheets 9" x 12" (73603)
Dry-Erase Markers, Assorted Colors (24459)
DIY Decal Sheets 8-1/2" x 11" (61512/94268)
Light Fabric T-Shirt Transfers 8-1/2" x 11" (3271)
Dark Fabric T-Shirt Transfers 8-1/2" x 11" (3279)
Stretchable Fabric T-Shirt Transfers 8-1/2" x 11" (3302)
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