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by Rob Porter | September 12, 2023


Over the last few years, many companies adopted hybrid or entirely remote work paradigms. These paradigms have had a number of positive effects such as increased productivity, improved employee well-being, and even reduced carbon emissions. Still, experts project that many companies will begin to ask their employees to come back to the office by the end of 2024. Depending on the person, this could be a minor inconvenience, or an abject nightmare. Either way, it’s important to be prepared. Here’s how to survive returning to the office.

Plan Ahead

If you’ve been fully-remote for the last few years, you might be happily accustomed to getting out of bed ten minutes before work starts, rocking up to your work station in your finest sweatpants, and munching on some cereal as you start your day. If you’re suddenly being asked to come back to the office, none of this will work particularly well, so it’s time to start getting back into the swing of things.

Once your employer provides a specific return date, start practicing your pre-work routine. This might include getting to bed at a decent time, waking up early enough to give yourself plenty of time to get ready for work and prepare your lunch, and leaving your home with enough time to deal with your commute. If you’re required to dress up for work, you could also select your outfit the night before to save time. The bottom line is, you might be out of practice when it comes to a real routine, so give yourself plenty of time to adjust before you’re required to return to work.

Manage Expectations

Your day-to-day is about to change drastically. After all this time, it might be difficult to remember how it felt to be in-person at work. In another scenario, you’ve never even been in-person because you landed your first job with a remote role. Either way, if the office is local and you’re being asked to come back to work it’s going to be a major shock, so it’s important to manage your expectations accordingly.

For example, you’ll probably have to deal with traffic. Depending on where you live, traffic can become a source of stress, but it’s one of those things that we just don’t have a whole lot of power over. Additionally, you’ll be having lots of face-to-face interactions with your coworkers, which can be particularly harrowing after working remotely for so long. Managing these expectations ahead of time can help to mitigate stress.

Give Yourself a Break

Building off of our last entry, it’s critical to understand that going through major changes can affect just about anyone. Our minds and bodies get used to a certain way of living and when that suddenly changes, it can feel like reshuffling a deck of cards. You might feel tired at first, irritable perhaps, and you might feel like you have less time to see friends and family or that you have less time for your hobbies. Indeed, this can sometimes lead to negative emotions and thought patterns.

Bear in mind that while your schedule has changed, you still have the same opportunities to engage with hobbies and spend time with friends and family; you just have to look at it differently. There will be an adjustment period as you get into a new routine, so give yourself a break—eventually, you’ll get used to the changes and everything will sort itself out. In fact, a new routine is often very beneficial and can lead to positive changes in your life.

Employee Resources

When getting back to the office, keep in mind that your employer most likely has programs in place to help you deal with any number of issues. In certain cases, your employer might offer different types of counseling, or at the very least, a referral program that you can look into. If you’re having trouble, contact a human resources representative and inquire about such programs right away. Remember, your mental health is extremely important, so don’t ignore feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression.

You’re Not Alone

Whenever you’re having any type of issue, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Everyone goes through changes and each person deals with them differently, but feelings such as exhaustion and frustration are universal. In this scenario, all of your coworkers, fellow team members, and even those in upper management are dealing with the changes associated with returning to the office, so everyone’s in the same boat. This common ground can help to foster a workplace environment that is both patient and understanding.

Returning to the office might seem like an insurmountable task, but once you get past the initial shock of your new routine, you’ll start to realize that getting more rest, being presentable at work, and having in-person interactions with your coworkers is helping to build more confidence. Along with this, as you and your coworkers support one another throughout this endeavor, you’ll create strong bonds and build lasting professional relationships.