Many New Zealanders will be going back to the office after working at home for weeks (or even months). While we’ve experienced this before, the transition can be stressful. Therefore it’s helpful to think about how we can successfully navigate returning to the office. We also need to consider how the coronavirus pandemic has changed work, perhaps forever.
How Covid Has Changed Work
Covid-19 lockdowns have led to remote working for office-workers, which has had a number of consequences, both positive and negative:
Many people have found that the positives of remote work, especially its flexibility, make up for the negatives. In fact, around 29% of people would prefer to work from home permanently. Even more, up to 55%, would like a hybrid working model (i.e. 2 or 3 days in the office) that would combine face-to-face interactions and meetings with the flexibility of working from home. As employers also tend to prefer having employees in the office where it's easier to supervise them, a hybrid working model could be the future. Zoom and other technologies that have come out of COVID make this even more likely. Therefore, we may have more to adjust to than simply returning to the office.
here are some tips to help you return to the office:
1. Take Care of Your Mental Health
Covid-19 and alert level changes are stressful, so make sure you take care of your mental health and practice self-care. When your life and work is in a state of flux, having routines can be helpful. It’s also good to be on the lookout for burnout. Leisure activities can also help, so it’s important that you...
2. Don’t Stop Your Lockdown Exercise
Any exercise habits or hobbies that you may have taken up during lockdown can help you deal with the stress of returning to the workplace, forming part of comforting routines, if you can, keep them up when you return to work. One way of doing this is improving your scheduling, with methods such as setting hourly alarms or using a scheduling app. However, if scheduling all these activities creates more stress for you, it might be better to give yourself a break and evaluate your work-life balance.
3. Manage the Social Side of Work
Loneliness while working at home during lockdown can be a real problem for some people, so if you’re looking forward to getting back to the social side of working in an office, that’s great. Embracing workplace friendships can really help you enjoy the transition back to the office. If you struggle with the social side of work or even have particular coworkers that you hate, this is not the time to get involved in any workplace drama. If your office is only going back on a part-time basis, you may be able to schedule your days to avoid coworkers with who you really don’t get on.
4. Voice Your Health Concerns
It’s okay to voice your concerns around health and safety in your office. If your coworkers or boss aren’t taking government guidelines on covid seriously (e.g. not wearing masks or socially distancing), they are putting their coworkers and the team of five million at risk. Likewise, it’s illegal for your boss to force you to come into the office if you are sick or awaiting the results of a covid test.
You may be more concerned about covid if you are in a high-risk group, in which case your management should allow you to continue to work from home if that’s what you need to feel safe.
5. Remind Yourself of the Pros of Working in an Office
Another way of making the transition back to the office easier is remembering the advantages of not working from home:
Returning to the office after a long period of working from home can be a struggle, but there are benefits of working in the office. We need to prepare for a slightly different work world post-covid and the transitions between working from home and working at the office can help facilitate this.