With the shift from pandemic to endemic and the lifting of mask mandates, many offices are finally unlocking their doors, and employees are returning for in-person work.
Whether we wanted to stay at home or we were looking forward to getting back to a shared space, there are some changes in all of our brains that happened during the Pandemic remote period, and we all have things to consider when returning to the office.
Communication, for instance, is something we’ve all adjusted to with Skype and Zoom and the little delays between talkers, the lack of in-person idiosyncrasies, and the spontaneity in conversations. These are just some of the things we’ve internalized, and it’s something employees and employers should consider when returning to the office. Here are six tips to help things along.
Keep your schedule light
When you return to the office, it’s important not to overschedule yourself. Pad your schedule, set some breaks between tasks, and allow yourself breathing time to readjust to your surroundings and reconnect with your coworkers.
Plan to connect
Put the distraction you’re bound to feel when you return to the office to good use and set a daily intention to connect with someone. Maybe if you get frazzled, or when you just have your hourly restlessness, make a habit of walking to a coworker’s desk to strike up a conversation.
Sleep more, sleep well
The commute, the change of location, and the influx of socializing, all of it is going to add to the load, maybe without you noticing it. Avoid burnout and the extra stress by taking it slow and remembering to get your REM hours in.
Be open, honest, and without barriers or mystery about future plans for your employees. Involve them in the conversation around big changes like the return to work and keep talking about it. Research shows that when there is clarity and communication, employees have 36 percent more good feelings about returning to work.
Organize by events, not days
When organizing the schedule, and planning in-person days, don’t pencil it in by date and time but by the task and what needs to get done. Teams benefit from the shared reality of in-person collaborative work, so set a time for creative problem solving or brainstorming and not just “work on Wednesday.”
Set socializing times
Even when employees are not working, they can be working to make themselves a better team. Let your team have agenda-free social interactions, even set break times or longer lunches, to let them interact. We’ve all been missing out on the dopamine and oxytocin pleasure hormones that release when we socialize and improve interconnection, so strengthen your team’s cohesion by letting them get to know each other again.