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How to Return the Office After Working Remotely

Amanda Ann Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Certified 

The time has come in when you need to return to the office. You might be returning due to expectations from your employer, a job change, or perhaps an awareness that it’s in your best interest. Regardless of your reasons, you might experience a potentially stressful transition. Therefore, it’s best to support yourself in order to ease the discomfort of such a transition. 

If you are returning to the office, here are a few methods that will help you manage your transition:

Acknowledge and Process Your Emotions 

How do you feel about returning to the office? Are you angry? Sad? Disappointed? Anxious? Excited? It’s important to acknowledge your emotions, as they are a vital part of your transition. Allow yourself to feel your emotions since this will help you process them rather than let them fester beneath the surface. Identifying, feeling, and expressing your emotions will likely make your transition easier rather than harder, as processed emotions help us to cope and make better decisions. There are many ways to process emotions, so here are a few examples:

  • Talk to someone who is capable of listening, understanding, and expressing empathy.
  • Express your emotions physically, such as crying, dancing, stretching, or walking. 
  • Express your emotions through art such as writing, painting, and singing.

Reconfigure  Your Boundaries 

Returning to the office may impact your schedule, time, employment expectations, and contribution to the household. Therefore, the boundaries that you have established for yourself or others may need to change. Take some time to identify what boundaries need to be reconfigured in order to support your transition. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What hours are you required to be in the office?
  • How would you like to utilize your commute time?
  • How are you expected to contribute to your family/household?
  • What are your employer’s expectations of you when you are in the office as opposed to working remotely?
  • What boundaries do you need in order to support a healthy work/life balance? 

Adjust Your Expectations 

Any transition — even a good one — can cause increased stress, anxiety, irritability, and sadness. You may not be able to function at your best during a transition due to your emotional state. As a result, you need to adjust your expectations in order to support your transition. For example, you may not be as productive at work or at home during your first two weeks of returning to the office. Instead of judging yourself for this change, consider whether you’re holding yourself to reasonable rather than unrealistic or excessively demanding expectations. You might tell yourself, “I’m allowing myself some time to get through this transition until I start a new project.” Don’t neglect rest and self-care, which are integral to making any such transition in a healthy and sustainable way. 

Embrace Advantages

Is there anything that you gain from returning to the office?  If so, identify these gains and take advantage of them. Common gains are being able to socialize with coworkers, having a separate work and home space, and having a designated transition time from work to home life. Take advantage of these changes by embracing them and making sure that they are an active part of your transition. 

Change Your Office Environment

What do you need to make your office more comfortable, productive, and accommodating? Consider making changes to your office in order to ease your transition. Here are a few ideas:

  • Bring items from home, such as headphones, pictures, plants, scents, and healthy snacks.
  • Make changes to support your physical health, such as altering your workstation to prevent ergonomic hazards. 
  • Request that your employer makes changes to the environment that will support your transition. 

Are you struggling with your transition back to the office? If so, counseling can help you navigate these transitions. Contact an intake specialist at Symmetry Counseling to get paired with a Chicago counselor today.

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