If you’re feeling nervous going back to the office after working remotely, you’re not alone
As more public spaces open back up, it’s natural to start thinking about what it will mean for you and your family when you return to the office. If transitioning from working from home (WFH) to returning to work in an office is weighing on your mind, you’re not alone.
For many of us, it seems like we’ve just gotten a grasp on work-life balance and helping our kids thrive during distance learning while working from home. Now we’re faced with changing our routine and lifestyle again.
Whether you’re facing returning to work full-time in an office, or on a hybrid office schedule, our 6 tips can help you set your mind at ease and make the transition as comfortable as possible.
1) Prepare your kids for how returning to work may affect daily routines
As much as we’re all clambering to get out of the house, a big change is always bound to be a little bumpy. Talk to your kids about how everyone’s daily routines may change, and set up ways to communicate that help smooth the transition.
An easy way to help the kids get comfortable with your new back-to-work routine is to set up a dry erase calendar for tracking your WFH and in-office days. You can easily make your own with self-laminating sheets and dry erase markers.
For teens that can’t be pried away from their devices, a digital shared calendar is another great option. Google calendar is an obvious choice but there are many other great calendar apps for families out there as well.
2) Ask policy and procedures questions: know what to expect when you return to work
Start by reviewing all materials your work may send regarding COVID policies and procedures. For example, temperature checks for COVID screening and other plans to help employees stay healthy. Simply knowing that there is a plan in place to reduce the spread of germs may help ease your mind
If there is something confusing, or missing, in the return-to-work guidelines don’t hesitate to ask! HR or your facility manager will likely be more than happy to answer your questions.
If it’s not covered in the policy, ask about company-supplied disinfecting supplies and other COVID office supplies. Many companies are providing such things to employees returning to work. However, if they’re not able to provide supplies for you, knowing ahead of time gives you a chance to get them for yourself.
3) Make yourself a personal return-to-work germ safety kit
In addition to continually practicing every-day preventative measures, the CDC guidance for returning to work includes three items to carry with you at all times: 1) a face mask, 2) tissues and 3) hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Keep your COVID safety items portable and separate from your purse or laptop bag, or at the very least, in a dedicated outer pocket. You don’t want to have to dig through a bag to get to your hand sanitizer.
When you return to work, it’s a good idea to also carry a spare mask for yourself and 1-2 disposable masks for coworkers if possible. It’s always nice to be able to help a coworker in need and it can ease worry about meeting others without masks.
4) When you return to work, prepare your office/desk
Stock your desk with disinfecting wipes and/or spray. If your office has not provided disinfecting supplies, bring them in yourself. You want to be prepared to wipe down your personal area at least once a day.
Protective film that discourages bacteria can be used on the phone, back of your chair, door handle, or light switch to reduce germs on high-touch surfaces
If it’s not done for you, measure and mark space for social distancing within your work area. It can be difficult for others to gauge distance on sight, so help them keep their distance when entering your space. For hard floors a preprinted vinyl floor decal is great. For carpet, simple masking tape will do!
Some companies may not enforce social distancing. If you have an office, or workspace with a wall, partition, etc. removable wall decals work great for communicating your mask and social distancing preferences as well reminders to wash hands or use sanitizer.
5) Prepare additional personal items you use at work
When you return to work you will need to pay more attention to keeping your supplies separate from the supplies of your coworkers. You can also upgrade supplies that travel between work and home. Heavy-duty office supplies like plastic dividers, sheet protectors and heavy-duty binders are easy to wipe down.
Pro tip: Use labels you can clean. The same ones you used for the kids during back-to-school season work great!
Here’s a handy table of best label sizes/types for common office supplies:
|What to Label||Best Label Size/Type|
|Pens, pencils, highlighters, staplers, calculators, etc.Personal cups, mugs and any other eating/drinking utensils you might wash by hand at work||7/8″ x 2-5/8″ durable film labels; waterproof and chemical resistant|
|Lunch containers that you take home to wash in the dishwasher||1-1/4″ x 2-3/8″ dissolvable labels; food safe, easily dissolve when washing|
|Headphones/earbuds and headsets||Barbell labels for cords, sold by the sheet; choose the UltraDuty® white film option for waterproof, chemical resistant cord labels|
6) Create mental and emotional space as you transition back to work
We all have moments where we fall into the trap of ignoring our mental health for whatever the reason, whether we tell ourselves it’s for productivity or a busy family life. However, taking care of yourself is not selfish!
When you feel your best, you do your best. Making time for exercise and enjoying your hobbies, among other things, are well-recognized ways to manage stress.
If you find that returning to work is really weighing on your mind, here are some self-care ideas to try:
Make time for yourself. Schedule self-care time in your planner, bullet journal or calendar. You can even feed two birds with one scone and explore a variety of planner ideas and supplies that turn effective time management into a creative break.
Find ways to process your thoughts and feelings. Whether it’s meditation, journaling or expressing yourself through artistic hobbies, you need somewhere to process what you’re going through. Meditation apps are super convenient for extra guidance.
Take advantage of free resources. Experts at the CDC have provided a comprehensive list of non-medical mental health resources for coping with this specific situation.
Returning to work may be stressful, with preparation you can ease worry
Starting a new routine is bound to have an adjustment period. With a bit of planning you can make preparations that will help you ease worries about germs, while also mentally preparing yourself and your family for a change in your daily routine.
You just might find that a change of pace is refreshing! And just remember that a return to work means that we’re one step closer to unplugging on a road trip and other fun activities that have been on hold during the pandemic.