What are your ways to adapt to office life like the time before 2020 - When we used to hug people we met after holidays, remember?
After 1,5 years home it’s been amazing how good and at the same time strange it feels to be back at the office. As much as being surrounded by the people you like to work and spend time with gives to you, it can be a bit exhausting. Even the things you missed during the social distancing might take more energy before your body and mind adjusts.
I hadn't noticed how much I missed the random jokes interrupting work and making me laugh. Interruptions. That is how I felt when someone all of a sudden opened up his/her mouth without a calendar reminder of the meeting to be started. I’ve got so used to being on my own without interruptions. Thinking about it now, it must have been so boring. Humour is not only a basic need to survive but it’s one of the things that binds us together and makes us feel we are a member of the group.
As funny as it was to see the faces from weird angles and the colourful backgrounds on my screen, seeing the entire person makes a big difference also to humour. Though I must admit that when seeing colleagues through the camera in their jumpers and natural looks, I felt that it strengthened the thought of us being the same, suited up or not.
Could ‘Casual Fridays’ become ‘Almost at Home Fridays’? Every Friday we’d wear yoga pants at the office, no makeup or anything. How would it change our communication and would it have an effect on our ways of working?
Take it easy
Start easy. There is no need to jump directly to the “5 days at the office” rhythm. As we all have different needs, it’s important to find out what suits you best: mostly office, mostly remote or something in between.
If you’re willing to try the office-life, a couple of remote days a week helps a lot to adjust. After remoting for a day or two the morning you're heading to the office feels like Christmas. You're ready to rock and solve whatever challenge there might appear. When you feel the base, try not to lose it.
Commuting by car or public transportation might make the start easier but challenge yourself. Choose a bike instead. A walk around the office works as well to wake up your body and mind. Take some time to smell nature or look at the buildings. Remind yourself how lucky you are to have a chance to do so.
Take some time from the evening to decide what to wear at the office the next day if the ‘Almost at Home Friday’ is not the thing regardless of how tempting it is. Yes, back in the days you wore clean trousers. Just dig deeper into the closet to find them. Doesn’t fit? Invest in a new pair and stop worrying about the size. It would have happened one day anyway. Don’t forget to recycle the old ones.
Once you feel like you’ve accepted the fact that you’re no longer able to start working immediately after you’ve woken up, perhaps it’s time to ask your colleagues how they’d prefer you to communicate with each other at the office. Some might still want to hide behind the screen and use slack instead. Some might still be the slave of the calendar and random face to face meeting requests by a human standing next to your desk before lunch can make some confused.
Despite your efforts, the start may feel heavy. If it happens I’d be careful with the regular sports you used to do after a remote day. Perhaps it’s a good idea to loosen up a bit the pace for a couple of weeks and give your body and mind time to adjust to new habits? Even if the trousers won’t fit.
Mute the environment around you
Reserve for every afternoon a short 15 min break. Yes, it's all about prioritizing and you are the one holding the first position on that list. Choose whatever makes you feel energized for a while. Close your eyes and listen to your favourite music, do some push ups, go for a short walk around the office or just breathe and stare at the wall. I would skip the screen and the mobile.
No matter the chosen method to escape the screen and mobile the most important thing is that the short break becomes a routine. Practise is the key. Try once and repeat the next day. Don't give up and thank youself every time you take the break. Sooner than you notice you feel like your day is not as it in the best scenario be without the break between the work you're on.
My top 5
Pick up the clothes ready the previous evening your decided to head to the office
Get a plant on your desk
When there is a need to concentrate, listen classical music
Reserve a 15 min meditation break for every afternoon. It doesn't need to always be a success. We are humans.
Enjoy the freedom of not being responsible for cooking lunch.
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