Maybe you enjoyed working in the comfort of your living room; spending your days on Zoom calls from your comfy sofa wearing your pajamas and bunny slippers and dread the return to an office. If you’re an introvert, the pandemic was a godsend that allowed you to enjoy your co-workers in small doses from afar and pick up necessities without having to interact with others in a retail setting. For others, the pandemic shutdowns forced them to become multitaskers who managed children’s schooling, care for small children and sick partners, while still maintaining a hectic schedule of meetings and working on projects. Well, whether you loved or hated working from home during the pandemic, or some mixture of love-hate, your time on the couch is nearly over. For some, the transition to work already occurred or they’re going back to work part-time while working from home the remainder. But are you ready to make the transition both mentally and physically? Here are some things to think about before heading back to the office.
How to handle going back to work
Heading back to an office is a welcome transition for many while others face fear and trepidation about their upcoming transition to the office. Among the benefits enjoyed by those working from home are:
- 0 time spent commuting from your bedroom to whatever room used as an office
- Flexibility to run errands or throw in a load of laundry during the day or prep dinner between meetings
- You didn’t have to dress for Zoom meetings or work hours and, even if you did, many only dressed the part others could see on Zoom and didn’t worry so much about bathing and makeup. Sales of sweatpants soared.
- With kids out of schools, working from home allowed parents to monitor kids and their schoolwork
- Productivity actually rose during the pandemic
Of course, there was a downside to working from home including:
- The challenging environment where kids and pets interfered with your efforts. After a while, no one wants to see your adorable cat walking across your keyboard or your daughter throwing a temper tantrum
- Unless set up properly, your home isn’t designed as a workspace. Working around the kitchen table is uncomfortable and, if everyone works around the same table, it’s hard to maintain focus and conduct meetings with all the background noise
- Many businesses didn’t plan for the shutdown and didn’t allow for secure distributed environments or couldn’t provide access to necessary documents and files from home. Internet outages, slow internet speeds, and computer failures made working from home challenging without tech support standing by.
- Collaboration was strained without the interpersonal aspects provided by the office environment
- Many folks missed the companionship of their work friends and colleagues
Hence, going back to work offers a mixed bag of benefits and drawbacks for both employees and their employers. For this reason, some businesses decided they could perform well with remote workers, especially tech companies and those in cities where rent was exorbitant, while others are moving to a hybrid model where employees work in the office on a staggard schedule to enjoy the benefits of both working from home and from an office. This hybrid strategy combines the best of both worlds while reducing costs for employers who no longer need as much space to house their staff. So, let’s look at some things you should consider as you head back to the office.
Do you like your job?
There are a number of people out there who hated their jobs even before the pandemic. With an improved hiring environment, many decided to leave their existing job in favor of one that fits better– fuelling the great resignation. There are others who currently debate if they should go back. If you’re thinking about working for yourself, now is the time to do the planning and search out the finest opportunities for a new business. If you are not a fan of your job, now is the time to search out alternatives to see if you can do something you might enjoy. While you could handle a bad job before the pandemic or were stuck because of poor alternatives during it, you now face a situation where it’s an employee’s market due to low unemployment. There is no time like the present to change what you are doing.
How is your mental health?
A lot of people struggled with their mental health during the crisis and are looking forward to getting back to some form of normal. However, there are others who enjoyed working from home. Working from home opened up a lot of opportunities for people who found it tough to get out of the house. This new working model showed that we are more than capable of working from home, and there are some people whose mental health will not allow them to return to the challenges of an office. Will your mental health cope with going back to the old normal? Or do you think that getting back to your office will improve your overall mental health?
Can you work from home?
One of the biggest issues with working from home was finding the space for a home office. There were plenty of people who didn’t have the space for a dedicated office and were forced to work from the kitchen table. Over time, people have adapted but prefer a more professional setting that’s hard to achieve at home. Looking at your home right now, can you continue to work from home? Do you have an adequate internet connection to keep this going? Or do you just want to get out of the house and see other people? It does seem like a shame to ditch all of the hard work that people put into their homes to create a home office that functions well.
Have you been back to your office?
Many people were excited to finally go back to the office only to realize how awful it was. The pre-pandemic memories were not as great as they remembered and they struggled with being there rather than at home. After this, they requested to work from home again because they felt unsafe and their home felt safer to work from. Forced to take public transportation and facing long commutes, an office that felt like a Covid breeding ground, and being around so many people whose vaccination status was unclear made them uncomfortable. Many employers agreed that getting back to the office was not the best idea as they saw productivity slump. In the aftermath, many people decided to adopt a hybrid model of working rather than return to the office full time. You might be excited to get back to work but don’t be disappointed if you realize it is not as great as you remember.
Is your family ready?
Kids are heading back to school and more childcare centers are opening. This means enduring the astronomical expense to pay for these childcare options in much of the US and some other countries where school isn’t free. Plus, how do you deal with quarantines and unexpected school closures due to Covid that hit working parents hard?
Being at home with the kids was tough in the beginning, especially when everyone had to work out how to homeschool and balance working from home. But now, the uncertainty is worse than the daily grind of having everyone at home. there is a routine that works. The kids might not be ready to see you head back to work, especially if they feel anxious about going back to school themselves.
The pandemic forced us all into new patterns, some good, some not so good. And, the pandemic isn’t done with us yet. This winter may involve more shutdowns as the varients spread to the unvaccinated and break-through cases emerge. We may return to something approaching normal only to head back into our pods again. If you find the prospect of returning to work daunting, you might think about a new career by upskilling with classes at a local college or online or starting a business from home to replace your income. You might also negotiate your return to work with your employer as many discovered the benefits of employees working from home. Potentially, you can negotiate at least a hybrid solution rather than a full-time return to the office.
Need marketing help to support business growth?
We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies. Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get our FREE guide to creating an awesome website, or contact us for more information on hiring us.
Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.