Back to the Office: Returning to Work in 2021
Are you feeling nervous about heading back to work after the Christmas break? Are you worried that you might have forgotten how to iron your clothes? Do you still remember the etiquette of holding conversations with your boss in the lift?
The return to work after the Christmas holidays is always a little difficult — coming down from the high of Christmas, New Year’s, and potentially a trip away; the idea of going to work five days a week can be difficult to wrap your head around. You might not feel like getting back into the routine of early nights and early mornings, the Monday morning team meeting, or the emails rolling in every few minutes.
But, of course, going back to the office in 2021 is going to be a little bit stranger than it usually is. For many, this will be their first time back in the office since the beginning of 2020. For others, going back to work after Christmas will mean finally returning to working at the office full time. In any event, most of us are heading back to some kind of routine after a long break.
No doubt, it will take some adjusting. It just won’t do to be wearing pyjama bottoms with a work shirt on top anymore. Shoes will need to be worn. The fridge will not be within reach for all your snacking requirements.
But, although many will be a little bit nervous about venturing back to the office in 2021, it’s probably worthwhile to take stock of the positives of going back. After all, by now, you’ve probably had a bit much of whoever it is you’re living with. So, let’s put things in perspective and get mentally prepared to return to work in 2021.
The Right Frame of Mind
Probably the most important thing you want to do before you get back to work is to spend a bit of time reflecting on how you actually feel about going back. There is a good chance you are feeling anxious or fearful of going back to work, but you might not have taken the time to process it.
There are all sorts of reasons why you might be anxious: the idea of being surrounded by a lot of people again, the idea of speaking to your boss face-to-face, or even just the idea that you have to wake up a bit earlier to get the train or bus into the office.
But, by identifying how you are feeling, you stand a much better chance of actually getting comfortable with the idea of returning to work — perhaps even getting excited about it. If you are worried about something, the chances are that there is no real substance to your fear. Rather than keeping your anxiety in the periphery of your mind (where it does the most damage to your wellbeing), bring it front and centre. Confront it and ask whether it is really worth the emotional energy you are expending on it.
Once you’ve done that, you can take more active steps to put yourself in the right frame of mind. Below are some concrete tips to help you do this.
Tips for Getting Back into the Swing of Things in a Positive Way
Get to Bed Early
Towards the end of the Christmas break, you might be treating yourself to a few last late nights and sleep-ins. But your return to work is going to get off on a much stronger foot if you get good rest. So, start going to bed early at least a few nights before you return. This will also make you feel more confident and prepared to go back to work.
Give Yourself Things to Look Forward To
Going back to work doesn’t need to be torture. Give the experience some appeal by treating yourself well. For example, you might want to spend a couple of hours setting up a new work playlist for you to listen to at your desk. Or, you might spend a little time preparing some whiz-bang lunches to bring to work. At the very least, you can just focus on the idea of picking up your first coffee of the year from your favourite barista.
Attack Your Email
As everyone knows (even if it doesn’t look like they know), avoiding your email doesn’t make the stress of it go away. There’s a very good chance you will have built up a seriously untidy inbox while you were away from your desk. But your return to work will be all the better if you just attack it early. Set aside some time and let the endorphins rush in as you knock each email over one by one.
On that note, make sure you are eating well. You are going to need your energy to be high—both to avoid physical fatigue, but also to keep a positive mental outlook. Make sure you are eating a good breakfast and take the time to actually make your own dinner (rather than snacking or ordering in).
Reconnect with Your Colleagues
The office will be a much more comfortable environment if you take the time and effort to just go and touch base with the people in your office—if not all of them, at least those with whom you work more closely. Make sure you don’t neglect the boss! He or she might also be a bit down about being back at work, but your smile might just be the thing to lift him or her up.
Most importantly, reaching out to people will serve to build your own sense of confidence, breaking down any mental barriers of communication that might have built up while you were away.
By now, most people know how important exercise is for mental health. The benefits are almost endless—from giving you endorphins, to giving you more self-esteem and a more restful night’s sleep. Just do it.
Maintain the Things that Give You Joy
Lastly, going back to work doesn’t mean the end of the other aspects of your life. You still have your evenings and your weekends. Make sure you use these times wisely. Don’t get caught doing activities that don’t make you feel good about yourself—like watching television for hours on end. Make sure you stay in touch with your non-work friends and make time to see them. But, also, pursue your existing hobbies, or set yourself new goals.
Work is an opportunity for you to set and achieve your own goals—so look forward to it!