After working from home for such a long period of time, it can feel strange to go back into the office. Things will certainly be different and we’ll all have to adjust to the new normal. Your employer will likely provide you with social distancing guidelines and coordinate new regulations for meetings. They'll have rules, hand sanitiser, and new procedures for nearly everything. But, what do we do about our day-to-day interactions? Office communication and celebrations will have to change as well to ensure the health and safety of office occupants. The way we manage our personal spaces will also be up to us, including whether we want to continue working remotely.
Be thoughtful about communication. Before you walk over to someone's office to sit down and ask a question, think about whether the situation truly requires it. It could be a matter that could be resolved via email, text, or other messaging programs like Slack. However, some conversations should take place in person. Also, client meetings may be less frequent; as clients may be less inclined to come into the office. For this reason, you may want to continue video-conferencing.
Every office has a little office chit-chat. But, people might be less inclined to participate. If people aren't as chatty as normal, don't take it personally. You never know what they're going through, and we are all going to handle this situation differently.
As much as you want to celebrate being back at work, hold off on baking for your team for a while. Office celebrations are bound to be impacted, as people aren't supposed to gather in large groups. That probably means fewer snacks in the break room, so you may want to remember to bring your own to keep in your desk. Celebrations may be reduced to smaller groups, or even just a group email. This is sure to lessen morale in the workspace, so be sure to say a kind word to your co-workers welcoming them back to the office, even if it's a personal email.
Keep Your Personal Space Clean
Think about cleanliness. Don't just rely on the cleaning staff, disinfect your own space. You may want to keep some cleaning wipes in our office to wipe your desk down every morning before starting your work. Additionally, you may want to carry some hand-sanitiser to avoid running to the restrooms to wash your hands frequently. You may also want to skip the dish of candy you keep on your desk to offer to colleagues and clients during meetings.
Remote Work Days
Now we know exactly how much of our jobs can be done at home. It may be a lot more than you once thought. You may want to come into the office less than before, only coming in on days that you actually need to be there in person. Some may want to have one or two designated days each week in which they work from home. In many cases, this at-home work environment can increase productivity. Although, working from home isn't for everybody, and if it tends to stifle your productivity, you may want to continue doing the majority of your work at the office.
Returning to the office will look different for everyone. However, these changes don't have to impact your productivity. If there's one thing we learned from working at home, it's that sometimes these virtual methods can be just as, if not more, effective than in-person methods. Your office is going to have procedures for you to follow but think about the way you approach situations that are not dictated by the office. You have the power to make these situations more comfortable for both you and your colleagues.