“Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work.” – Gustave Flaubert
So, now the world is slowly opening up again, and people and businesses are starting to move back to some sort of ‘normal’, many of us will be heading from the home office and back into the workplace.
So much has happened since we were last in our workplaces. We have all seen and experienced big changes in the way that we work, our views on how the way we work ‘works’, and indeed, what is important to us in terms of well-being whilst at work, and in our approaches to work-life balance.
Needless to say, this transition back out into the wider working world will be a significant one, and we will come up against challenges that we will have foreseen, as well as some that we won’t have done! Here are a few thoughts on things you might wish to remember and consider when making this transition, and personal boundaries that you may now wish to put in place and enforce after this, the bumpiest of periods.
1. You Are a Different Person Now
I had a bit of a shock the first time I walked back into a room to work and collaborate with other people in person. I was eager to get back into things, and walked back into work thinking, ‘I’ve got this. I know how this works.’ However, what became clear very quickly was that my temperament, after such a traumatic year, was entirely different. My tolerance was less, I was triggered and set off by a host of things I had never been set off by before… my fuse was somewhat shorter. This led to a bumpy few weeks, where I really had to be mindful of the changes in myself and learn how to work with ‘the new me’. Just be aware that your behaviour may surprise you. Be mindful of, and consciously observe, yourself.
2. Home Focus vs. Workplace Focus
When working from home, no doubt you will have gotten used to your own rhythms and ways of managing your time. I know that, for me, I take a break every 45 minutes to do housework for 15 minutes, as it helps my brain to stay fresh. It also doesn’t matter so much if I end up procrastinating beyond those 15 minutes with other stuff. You will surely, if you have been working from home, have implemented leniencies for yourself. Don’t get caught out with these home-based habits when back at work. Of course, I’m not implying that you’ll be turning up to meetings in your pyjamas, but just be mindful that a more structured workday might be more of a shock to the system than you think.
3. Finding Downtime
Following on from the last point, if you have discovered that you work better with scheduled downtime, try and find a way to fit this into the structure of your workplace. This is also important for your wellbeing right now, as doing a full day at work will come as a shock to your body. 8-10 hours out in the world might not sound like a chore, indeed, you used to do it all the time, but it is amazing how out of practice your body can mind can get! Find downtime to keep yourself afloat as you get used to this again.
4. Be Kind to Yourself
If you find the transition tricky, don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s not because you are suddenly ‘not good’ at your job, you are just out of practice. What is more important is that you remain conscious of your stumbles. This is a tricky time, and you need not make it trickier by hating on yourself. You’ll find your way back, all in good time.
5. Remember That You Are Not the Only One
We have all been in this together. So, whenever you are finding the move back to the workplace hard, know that many of your colleagues will be feeling the same way. This consideration is important in knowing that there is always going to be someone to talk to who will understand the difficulty and that you may have to cut others a little slack when they are having a wobble as well.
By Chris Thomson
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