For some, returning to the office after working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic can be a daunting and even unwelcome experience. There may be feelings of anxiety, fear, and reluctance as the transition to the hybrid work environment approaches. While there are technical considerations to prepare for this return, there are also personal things to think about that can alleviate stress and get your mind and body ready for the change.
What is re-entry anxiety?
Re-entry anxiety, or anxiety about returning to a post-pandemic world, is a real thing as returning to the office gains momentum. Working from home has been the new normal for many for well over a year. There are many articles online that describe what people might feel about returning to the office after having ‘social-distanced’ for so long. Some of these concerns include:
- Safety and cleanliness of the workspace and public spaces.
- A resurgence in outbreaks as more people populate the office space.
- Co-workers that may have selected not to get vaccinated.
- Returning to connecting with colleagues and clients in person.
All of these concerns are valid and should be brought up with management. However, there are some steps you can take to personally prepare for returning to your office environment in any capacity.
Preparing personally for a hybrid work environment
The fear of COVID-19 and the uncertainty as we move towards a post-pandemic world is real and can foster feelings of helplessness and lack of control. To help prepare yourself, make a list of the things you can control:
- Mentally prepare yourself:
- Plan out the days you’ll go into the office ahead of time, especially if there are days where you will be required to go in.
- Aim to split your remote and office days evenly where possible.
- Review the office safety protocols in advance and ask questions if clarification is needed.
Mentally preparing yourself for the days that you will return to the office in advance can help ease anxiety around going back.
- Make a fresh start:
- Personalize your workspace in the office.
- Pack personal snacks.
- Buy some new masks.
- Buy a new mug or water bottle.
Making purchases that will help you feel more excited about heading back to the office will help ease some of the anxiety about your return, while also helping prepare you to be compliant with any COVID-19 related protocols that are in place.
Preparing technically for a hybrid work environment
Working in a hybrid work environment will require you to have all of your tools and devices available in two separate locations. Ideally, you’ll have the right equipment in both places to ensure a smooth transition between them both, but if you don’t, you’ll need to make a list of what you need to take with you to the office so that you can get to work quickly without too much adaptation. Here’s a checklist to get you started:
Tools and devices:
- Laptop or tablet
- Laptop bag
- Chargers for laptop and phone
- USB camera for meetings
- Mouse and keyboard
- Headset or headphones
- Water bottle
- Coffee mug
- Lunch container and utensils
When returning to the office, whether permanently or on a rotating schedule, it will be important to remember that others may have the same fears and reluctance. Maintaining office comradery and team building is still possible with safety protocols in place and is as important than ever as we move towards a post-pandemic world. The shift will be different, and will perhaps seem disruptive at first, but just as we have learned to live with working remotely, we will also adapt to the hybrid workplace. Be safe, be kind, and be supportive of yourself and your peers. We’ll get through this together!