As life transitions to the “next normal,” many of us will be returning to the office, either full-time or on a hybrid basis. Some of us will be anxious about it, while others can’t wait to leave working from home behind. However you feel about taking the next step to normality, here are eight tips to help you get back-to-work ready.
1. Set the alarm
Working from home has meant working flexibly around family commitments such as home schooling. This may have meant pushing your workday into the evening on some days, and logging on at dawn on others. Rewire your body clock to re-adjust to a more regular routine. Your alarm clock may not feel like your best friend in the morning, but studies have shown that waking up (and going to sleep) at the same time every day is good for you.1 A consistent sleep-wake routine trains your master clock, stopping you from waking up in the night and helping you with cardiovascular activity, cognition, weight control, immune function and digestion.
2. Design your perfect morning routine
Having a regular morning routine means more time for you, and less stress, which is better for your mental and physical well-being2 Setting the alarm clock earlier buys you extra time to exercise and eat breakfast, but you can also save precious morning minutes by starting your routine the night before. Lay out your office outfit, pack your gym bag, and make a batch of granola bars for breakfasts on-the-go. Then you can relax with your bedtime reading rather than trying to sleep while going through mental checklists of what you need to do when you wake up.
3. Dress up
If you’ve been sporting the athleisure look, or dressing from the waist up (perfect for Zoom calls!), you may need to refresh your dress sense. Your company may have adjusted its policy from corporate to business casual but sweat pants will still be a no-no. Go through your old work clothes: iron or dry clean your favorite items and, if you think your wardrobe needs a refresh, check out the summer sales for some new pieces to give yourself a mood lift. Now there’s a great excuse to go shopping!
4. Don’t be late!
If you commute, make sure to check the schedules. Most train, bus and subway, operations have gotten back to normal, but some may still be running on weekend schedules, with longer journey times. Or timetables may simply have changed since you last traveled to work, so don’t assume you’ll catch your usual service again. If you’re a regular traveler, don’t forget to check that your season ticket is valid. Also, load up on your favorite podcasts to make the most of your traveling time and get you in the mood for a great day. (How about Market Matters from New York Life Investments?)
5. Reactivate your life
Talking of tech, reactivate the apps that got you through your working day, from the functional to the fun. For example, perhaps you have a productivity app to help you do your best work? A planning app could come in handy for mapping out your work and social appointments when life becomes a juggling act again. And, if you’re commuting again, don’t forget to switch on your live travel apps to keep you on time.
6. Go for lunch
Working from home for so long has been a challenging time in so many ways, from home schooling to a lack of social interaction. As long as you're comfortable doing so, make plans to enjoy yourself. Make a list of all the things you’re excited about doing when you go back to the office. Perhaps catching up with your co-workers is at the top of the list? If so, make a lunch date. You might not be surprised that eating with other employees boosts your morale, but a Cornell University study found that it can also improve team performance.3 Just don't overdo it, or your post-lunch productivity will suffer.4
7. Check your company’s policies
On a more serious note, before you go back to the office, be sure to check your company’s COVID-secure working policies, so you know the rules and advice around wearing masks, seating arrangements, and sanitization. Whether you’re fully vaccinated or not, the safety and well-being of staff will be paramount for your employer.
8. Be kind to yourself
Finally, don’t expect everything to quickly return to “normal.” There will no doubt be a few bumps in the transition to whatever the “next normal” is – for you and others. We’re all on a new journey , so take it one step at a time, find your own path, be kind, and cut yourself a break - remember, you adapted to working under challenging conditions during the pandemic. You can adapt to this too.
1“What Is Your Circadian Rhythm and Why Is It Important?” Pesce, Nicole Lyn. March 13, 2019. Accessed July 19, 2021. https://integrisok.com/resources/on-your-health/2019/march/what-is-your-circadian-rhythm
2 “The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine.” Arlighaus, Katherine. Published December 29, 2018. Accessed July 19, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6378489/
3 “Lunch Is Served! Workplace Meals Improve Productivity.” Published May 06, 2020. Accessed July 19, 2021.
4 “Why Do I Feel Tired After Eating?” Butler, Natalie. Published March 29, 2020. Accessed July 19, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/why-do-i-feel-tired-after-eating
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