It’s been more than 2 years since millions of office workers around the world were sent home to work during the COVID-19-related lockdowns.
And while many employees continued to clock in from their kitchen tables throughout the rest of 2020 and 2021, this last year has seen them gradually returning to the office.
According to the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS), the percentage of employees who continued to work exclusively from home in early 2022 fell from 22% to 14%. While in Spain, only 9.6% of employees were doing their day’s work from the comfort of their couch by mid-2021.
But in a post-pandemic world, it can be stressful returning to the office no matter when you do it and for how many days (42% of UK folk had already adopted a hybrid work pattern in early 2022).
Concerns around catching the virus to feeling pressured to ramp up productivity under the watchful eye of your boss, can leave you worried and overwhelmed.
Let me tell you, though – you’re not alone in feeling this way. And luckily, there are several actions you can take to maintain your well-being now that you’re back at your usual place of work.
Avoid catching Covid, without causing stress
This is probably stating the obvious, but if you’re worried about catching COVID-19 then get your vaccine topped-up.
Your employer might offer ways for employees to get a vaccine booster shot. But even if they don’t, if you want to alleviate concerns about catching the virus on your commute or from one of your colleagues, then go ahead and do it yourself.
Take some time before you head back to the office to get familiar with any new rules that have been put in place to minimise contagion. Make them second nature so that they don’t become an interference and cause unnecessary stress during your working day.
Team players – organise a rota
Working at home alone, while for some works well, for others it’s a well-being disaster.
You may be the kind of person who thrives on interactivity and eager to get some real life contact with your team mates. This can be disheartening when you turn up to work to find you’re the only one there.
So if your workplace is adopting a flexible approach to working on the premises, perhaps get a quick 5 minutes with your colleagues every week to find out who will be in the office and when. Then you can make a plan to coincide with each other.
As you’re getting re-acclimated to a pre-pandemic work routine it’s important that you do so at your own pace and in a way that ensures you feel at ease. This means setting physical, mental and emotional boundaries, all of which will be very effective in helping you to protect your wellbeing at work.
For example, it’s OK to politely keep a physical distance from colleagues – you don’t need to engage in water-cooler chat nor squeeze into the office kitchen for elevenses just because that’s what you used to do before.
Use the new normal as an excuse to enhance your well being
Similarly, you may prefer to do something relaxing or rejuvenating during your lunchbreak to help maintain your energy and focus in the afternoon.
Activities could include taking a walk, reading a book, practising yoga or meditation, or even taking a siesta (if you can pop off home during your downtime!)
It’s critical that you don’t become mentally or emotionally overwhelmed by the return to your work environment and routine either.
So, think about the kind of work schedule you can create to prioritise a healthy work-life balance. Talk to your manager or boss about this if necessary. You may need to discuss with them issues around unscheduled overtime or delegating workloads, etc.
Develop a sleep routine
It’s going to take some time to get back into your old routine, especially if you’re rising early to leave for the office. One of the best ways to help you readjust to your revived work schedule is to develop a healthy sleep routine.
Sleep experts say that going to bed at a reasonable time each night and sleeping at least 7-9 hours is the solution. As well as easing any feelings of anxiety you might have, a good night’s slumber will leave you refreshed and ready to take on the issues that your work day might throw at you.
Walk or cycle to work
Often, one of the worst things about working out of home is the commute to and from your office. So, a great way to shake up your old routine and maintain your wellbeing at work at the same time, is to park the car or public transport and walk or cycle to the office instead.
After months of maybe doing very little exercising, this will help you stretch your limbs and get you moving, which, in turn, will increase your endorphin levels thereby reducing stress and boosting overall well-being. Win-win!
If you live in the UK, then lucky you too. The British government recently rolled out a new Bike2Work scheme to get more people moving and fewer cars on the road. The scheme offers employees a subsidy of up to 48% off the cost of a new bike.
These are just some of the many ways you can maintain your well-being at work now that you’re back in the office. But if you’re finding it difficult to get your head back into a post-pandemic work schedule, take some time out to make a list of things specific to you and your circumstances that you could do to enhance your well-being.
And if you feel the need for some deeper guidance, then go ahead and book a free coffee chat with a coach here.