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5 Top Tips Before Transitioning Back To The Office After The Pandemic!

Even if you’re excited about returning to “normality”, the adjustment will be bigger than you think for both body and mind, so here are some useful tips to help you through the next couple of weeks:

1. Prepare for the Mental and Physical Shock!

Rolling out of bed an hour before you have to be at the PC screen whilst working from home is a long cry from having to iron your clothes, get suited and booted, have breakfast, make the lunch, organise your files, get the kids to the minder, manage the traffic and the commute! They say that in order for something to become a habit, you must commit to a task/goal for 21 straight days. After just 3 weeks, the pursuit of that goal should have become a habit. Once you've established that habit, you continue to do it for another ninety days and hey presto, a new you! Covid lasted circa 2 years (circa 730 days) so we all now have new habits!

These covid habits won’t be easy to break, so be kind to yourself and prepare for the shock! Employers also need to prepare for the fact that transitioning back won’t be simple, and they need to be able to legislate for that to ensure that employees are as comfortable as possible. It would be a really good idea for employers to partner with mental health practitioners if they haven’t done so already.

2. Prepare for the Old Politics!

One day in March 2020, we all woke up to find that there was a certain cohort of people that we wouldn’t have to see again for the foreseeable. It's true for us all to some degree no matter how much you love your job! This may have been the annoying person who was always collecting €2 for the Lotto or the birthday whip around, the intern who had an endless supply of disposable income to have an annoyingly better social life than most celebrities, the embarrassing and quite annoying boss, the hot person on the next floor who you wouldn’t or couldn’t say anything to, the colleague who always left the milk out and never washed up…..But all of a sudden, as quick as remote working started, it is now dawning that your old “office” life is about come back to reality. Your oasis of calm is about to be shattered.

Two years ago what may have been perhaps mildly annoying, now may require a little more patience as our tolerance levels have changed, as may those that we once worked alongside. People have also grown older, some may have retired, some may decide not to come back and have been replaced. Understand that politics is now back in the building, and we all need to deal with it! Some people will be more irritated than others, their boundaries may have shifted, and may even result in a higher number of HR complaints. All matters for employers and employees to deal with head-on!

3. Work / Life Balance is now an Actual Thing!

So being 5 strides from the home office desk certainly does wonders for a work/life balance if managed correctly, but I am not quite sure if we have all fully appreciated that yet! We may very well have “lived it'' for the last two years but there is a big big difference from saying that there is a “grand stretch in the evenings” and “am I not very lucky”, as you bound down the stairs to head out for a walk at 6 pm, and a situation where you are looking at that “grand evening” through the windowpane of a bus for 90 minutes each way! Employees are likely to get disenfranchised very quickly if the transition isn’t managed. Some will feel obliged to the new “perks'' that they once had during Covid and will become resentful of the job that takes those away.

This could be something simple such as enjoying their favourite blend of coffee at home, or perhaps the fact that their much-loved pet spent all day at their feet and who must now entertain themselves! Soon enough we'll understand the true work/life balance that covid brought some people and sooner rather than later employers will need to understand that these matters need to be proactively addressed in order to maintain their key employees. This will after all be an employees market and those employers that offer hybrid working will be the employer of choice. Preventing illness by implementing wellness programs would be a good place for employers to start if they haven't done so already.

4. Others will have Set New Boundaries!

After the past two years, now is a wonderful time to set new boundaries, new goals and new ambitions! You will however not be the only one with this in mind! What was once an office of balanced equilibrium, will now be full of people with exactly the same idea as you! You may not be able to do the things you did in the past. You may not be able to say the things you did in the past! Understand and respect the fact that this has been a life changed the experience for many people. Many have lost loved ones, many will have been ill themselves. Transitioning back to the office is a time of change.

The old world order may very well not be in existence on your return, that may be a good thing or a bad thing. Just be aware that returning to work may have the same sort of feelings and experiences as walking into the job on Day 1. At the very least you are seeing, meeting, touching and smelling some people that you may not have been in close proximity to for over two years. You could also find yourself working with an entirely new set of people and as such a whole new workplace dynamic. People you thought were small, are actually tall and all sorts of perceptions are likely to be challenged. This in itself will require a certain level of appreciation and perhaps tolerance. One that both employees and employers need to understand.

5. Careful what you wish for!

It is pretty clear at this stage that the Government, and a significant majority of office employees, want their workweek to be a blend between remote and being in the office. But be careful what you wish for! A recent study found that hybrid working is more emotionally draining than fully remote working. That same study also found that hybrid working is more taxing than full-time, office-based work. As employers scramble to attract and retain talent in a post-pandemic world, a significant majority are changing their workplace policies to reflect the new hybrid way that people wish to work. What we don't know however at this stage, is whether such a move will actually create more problems than it is worth. We here at dulann offer flexible working arrangements to all colleagues and have done so for quite some time.

We are certainly finding that one size does not fit all, and that flexible hybrid working is not the panacea that Unions, Government and employers make it out to be. We predict that lots of hybrid workers will seek to either come back fully to the site or will most likely want to revert to remote. This will put employee / employer relations on a crash course for most businesses, and something that hasn’t even registered on the radar of the Government. Ultimately this is about ensuring that there is a good balance between what both the employer and employee want and need from the working relationship. This is true flexibility, but of course, Employers need to be extra careful to avoid the minefields of discrimination. There are employees who you would let work from home all day and every day, and there are others you probably shouldn't even have in front of you, never mind in a remote world. All must be treated fairly, and with that opens another can of worms. One size does not fit all, so in order for “flexible working” to be successful, it has to have far greater meaning than simply moving to a hybrid working model. 

I hope you found this blog useful. Don’t forget your Cyber Security and Ergonomics Online Training, we would love to provide those for you. There is no such thing as a free lunch! We hope everybody transitions safely.

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