Just as we’re finally adjusting to the new norm of remote work, we’re facing a fresh challenge: returning to the workplace.
As cities and states begin to open back up, some companies are allowing their employees to return to the office. Though you’ll be working in a familiar environment, things won’t be the same as they were before.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this return process as I’m in a similar situation. Like many companies, Lucas Group is giving employees the option to return to the office with additional safety measures in place. While it will be great to see my colleagues again, I know a lot will be changing. Managing my expectations, and considering the needs of my colleagues and family, is key to navigating this transition
Here are three places to start:
Your Daily Routine
For me, I’m someone who thrives on routine. When I’m at home, I want to relax, cook my favorite meals, or even catch up on chores. Working from home required me to shift my mindset, creating new habits to segment my day between my professional and personal life. Now, as I prepare to return to the workplace, I’ll need to rethink my routine again.
One of the most significant changes will be reintroducing a commute into our daily schedule. Another shift will be thinking through what we need to bring to the office. In the past, we might have gone to lunch with colleagues or stopped by the break room for an afternoon coffee. Depending on where you work, nearby options might be limited, or a shared break room could be temporarily restricted. Think through the different touchpoints in your day so you’re prepared. For example, when I go to the grocery store, I bring my own pen in case I need it. I’ll be doing the same thing at work, and taking other precautions like keeping a safe distance and constantly washing my hands.
I’m getting married in November, and my biggest concern is making sure everyone is having a good time, no matter their comfort level. I won’t take offense to a loved one skipping a hug or handshake.
The office is no different, and it’s more important than ever to be considerate of our colleagues. Unless they specifically state otherwise, you should consider your colleagues as high risk. Respect their wishes and don’t be afraid to speak up if they’re doing something that makes you uncomfortable.
Some companies are introducing social distancing into the workplace in unique ways. For instance, using colored wristbands to let employees share their feelings. Green wristbands mean fist bumps are okay, yellow bands are okay for talking without touching, and red ones indicate the worker would like to keep their distance.
This idea underscores the need for open communication when returning to the workplace. We need to frequently and regularly state our preferences and respect our colleagues when they do the same.
You’ll also have to set expectations with your family. When problems arise at home, you’re no longer available during the day to take care of them.
As you return to the office, your kids are likely heading back to school, too. That change opens up the opportunity for more interactions — and more germs. Even if they’re taking classes remotely, it will be a new experience for them.
I have a nurse and a doctor in my family. Here’s a tip they shared: When you get home from work, immediately change your clothes and spray your shoes with Lysol. I encourage my family to keep shoes outside the house, as well. These small precautions can help limit what you bring into your home.
There’s no doubt going back to the office will be different, but it doesn’t have to be scary. When you take the right preparations for yourself, your colleagues, and your family, you’ll be positioned for a successful return.