How to adjust to going back to the office

People will be heading back to the office from September 20th. Are you ready for the readjustment?

September 20th is the date that employers and employees have circled in their calendars. It’s the date where we start returning to the office on a phased basis. For some this is a moment of relief, for others, it’s anxiety-inducing. Both are totally normal reactions. So how do you prepare?

Feeling Anxious

If you’re feeling anxious about returning to the office, you’re not alone. Transitions, be they big or small can cause feelings of unsettlement and unease. This is exacerbated by the uncertainty that surrounds COVID-19. Many people are still fearful of catching the virus and want to reduce their risk as much as possible.

Many people are also anxious about losing a good work/life balance that they’ve cultivated while working from home. The past 18 months have allowed many of us to spend more time with our families and our hobbies which we might feel anxious about losing or giving up that extra time to commuting.

Addressing Anxiety

One thing to remember is that going back to the office does not mean going back five days a week immediately. Many companies are looking at bringing in hybrid working. This will allow people to ease themselves back into working in the office at their own pace which is a great way to reduce anxiety.

Another thing to do is pay attention to your body. Our bodies often show signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety before we even recognise them! Ensure that you’re looking after yourself by getting a good night’s sleep, drinking water, getting plenty of exercise and switching off where possible.

It’s key to remember that you’re not alone. All of your colleagues are going through the same thing. It can be a good idea to arrange check-ins with each other to see how they’re coping and discuss issues that you might be having. This can be a great way to ease stress and anxiety.

Hybrid Working

If you’re concerned about striking a good work/life balance as we return to the office, having a chat with HR and your manager can be a good idea. As stated already, many companies are looking at hybrid working models going forward. The Irish Government has also brought in new guidance on the Right to Disconnect and will look at bringing in legislation around the right to ask to work from home.

If you’re unsure about your own working arrangements, organise a meeting with HR and seek clarification on what is expected of you in the coming months. Share your concerns and seek guidance on what arrangements can be made. This is especially important if you are someone with an underlying condition or are caring for someone who is vulnerable.

Above all, be kind to yourself. The last 18 months have been a massive upheaval for everyone. If you’re finding that stress or anxiety is starting to impact your daily life, there is help available to you. Speak to your GP or your HR manager about seeking professional help if required.