South Africa’s lockdown regulations have loosened considerably since the president’s last Covid-19 address. As the country adjusts to a “new normal”, more businesses are going to be making provisions for employees to return to work. There may be anxieties about resuming normal life, but if you can no longer postpone returning to the office full time, then you will have to start thinking seriously about your return to the office.
Working from home and from a traditional office are vastly different experiences. Returning to work means you will have to make provisions for commuting to and from work and that impacts how early you wake up and get ready. It also affects your budget because you now have to consider fuel prices and other factors.
If your business or role doesn’t allow for you to continue working remotely indefinitely and you are prepping to go back to the office full time, we’ve got a few tips that will make the transition easier.
Going back to the office as an employee
Establish a new sleep schedule
Your WFH sleep schedule is probably very flexible. Chances are you’re working late and going to bed later because you can wake up 30 minutes before you have to start work. Working from the office means taking into account commuting, and it’s better to adjust your schedule a week before you head back to the office so your body can acclimatise.
Adapt your weekly routine
Adapt your routine to include travel time, getting ready and other morning rituals like having a cup of coffee. Plan your week ahead to make provision for commuting and prepare your lunch the night before to decrease the stress of waking up earlier.
Continue using online tools
Continue using the online and collaborative tools that you used when working remotely. Tools like business e-mail, video conferencing, collaborative workspaces and instant messaging are still very useful to keep the work and communication flowing. In the case of a team member being sick or unable to go to the office, these tools will help you have a full view of what they are working on and prioritise.
If there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s to always be malleable because things change in an instant. Embracing change will help you adapt to going back to the office.
If you’re unclear on anything from safety to schedules, don’t sit with it, just ask. Asking questions and reaching out for support will put you at ease and make the transition easier.
Going back to the office as an employer
Keep the lines of communication open
Your employees will have a lot of questions and you should avail yourself to address their concerns accordingly. Give them as much information on safety and assurance as possible so they feel like this is a well-considered move.
Welcome and solicit feedback
Make every employer feel like they can give feedback and that their feelings are valid. You don’t want to demoralise employees by making them feel like their opinion does not matter. Acknowledge that this is going to be a tough adjustment and that everyone’s feelings matter.
Keep reiterating the process
Don’t get tired of repeating the procedure of going back to the office. The more people know what’s going on, the better. People fear the unknown, and the more they know about the process and safety measures, the more relaxed they will be about getting back to the office.
Going back to the office may be a little stressful because we’ve been in a pandemic for over two years, but it also presents a new opportunity to reconnect with people. Plus, set better boundaries between yourself and your work. Being able to meet new team members and talk to someone face to face goes a long way in establishing good work relationships.
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