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How to Prepare For the Return to The Office After COVID-19

Mary-Lauren O’Crowley, LPC, NCC 

“We all are in this together”. A very popular and true sentiment which can adequately express the fact that not one person in the world wasn’t affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many individuals lost wages and loved ones, battled extreme anxiety and depression, and even cared for the sick. Thankfully, we can safely say that things look like they are returning to a more normal state. Vaccines have been rolled out, mask mandates are being lifted, and workplaces are beginning to call their remote workers back to the office.

Now, this is all good news; However, we still have issues to address. The truth is, opening up the economy will benefit us all, and heading can feel exciting; Nonetheless, challenges lie ahead. Transitioning back to work after over a year of working from home will likely not come without its “hiccups”. There will be lingering fears pertaining to the virus along with drastic changes in the morning routines we have gotten so accustomed to. In light of this, I will outline several tips for easing this transition and preparing for the return to the office: 

1) Prepare for work from home

Your adjustment to being back at work will be very difficult if you go “cold turkey” and start your new routine for work on day one back work. The many changes in things such as bedtime, wake-up time, breakfast and shower routines and commuting to work may not be easy for your body clock. After all, you have been waking up much later than you once used to, probably you head from waking up to the bathroom, put on your work shirt, then head to the laptop. You may even be eating breakfast as you log onto your meeting platform. Going back to work won’t see this possible. You will be returning to a routine which requires preparation. In anticipation for this, begin to set your alarm clock earlier, practice having a full bathroom and breakfast routine, prepare mentally for commuting and interacting with persons. 

2) Be patient and take small, simple steps

The transition of going back to work after covid-19 will require a good amount of adjustment and acclimatization. Take it easy. Take the transition in small steps. If you prefer to take a private cab instead of the bus or train for the first week or so, do that. If you have anxiety about interaction with others, don’t be afraid to take lunch alone or in a smaller group than usual. If you need to take half day for the first day, ask your employer for that privilege. Some workplaces may offer an option to remain part remote and part on-site for the first few weeks. Take the option and ease into things. The pandemic has been very traumatic. Give yourself room to take it slow. 

3) Talk to others

For mitigation of the stress, fear, worry, and anxiety that you are likely to experience, talk to others. It is very probable that your co-workers are just as nervous and anxious about returning. Be open about your thoughts and feelings related to this transition. Express and address your concerns without feeling shame. Employees all over the world are facing similar experiences. If you do not have co-workers to whom you wish to speak, consider reaching out to a therapist who will help you work through your emotions. 

4) Make your office feel like home

If you are able to make your office resemble something about the workspace you had at home, go ahead. Put up pictures, bring your favorite coffee mug, snuggle with your favorite throw blanket. Whatever it is that makes work feel more cozy and comfortable, do it.  

Returning to work is a major achievement after what the world has suffered through. Prepare for obstacles, make plans in advance, and be patient with yourself as you re-acclimate to the new normal. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with returning to the workplace during COVID-19, please reach out to the intake specialists at Symmetry Counseling today!

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