The pandemic first struck us in early 2020 and it threw off all routines in our personal and professional lives. Our working situations changed dramatically due to the pandemic, when everyone all over the world was asked to work from home- remote work was an unexplored territory.
I never imagined the privilege (or some may feel otherwise) of being able to walk 10 steps from my bed to my “workplace”. The increase in the amount of flexibility I had in my workday was also refreshing! In fact, I’m guilty of attending some of my virtual meetings in my pyjamas. Oops! For me, my working arrangements kept changing between remote working and hybrid working, according to the situation in Singapore.
You can say that the pandemic has likely changed the way people worked forever. Some companies like Airbnb, Dropbox and Slack are allowing all their employees to permanently work from home. With restrictions easing up around the world, full remote working will likely end for most people. The new default might even be hybrid working!
A couple of weeks ago, the Singapore government announced that 100% of employees are now allowed to go back to working in the office. I believe this announcement must have spurred a mix of emotions. Were you excited or were you anxious? Or both?
According to Dr. Alice Boyes, clinical psychologist and author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit and The Anxiety Toolkit, it is absolutely normal to feel anxious about returning to the office. Change can be scary! Remember how you felt when you had to transition from working in the office to working from home?
And here are some tips I have for you if you are totally anxious about it:
1.Get to know your company’s return to office policy
Your office space has likely gone through many changes since early 2020. Desks may be more spread apart due to social distancing measures or your company might have even adopted hot-desking. To help ease you back into work, you should speak to your manager or your HR to get a sensing of what’s different.
In addition, clarify your working arrangements with your manager—how many days are you expected to go back to the office? Is the timing flexible? Do you need any special accommodations?
2.Establish a new routine
Once you’ve clearly understood your new working arrangement, establish a routine that may or may not be different from your pre-pandemic routine.
I surveyed a couple of friends who were 100% working from home during the pandemic and they have long bid goodbye to their usual routines. Instead, they are more used to jumping straight out of bed and attending their morning conference call at the last minute.
Returning to office will most probably change that habit. You will have to wake up earlier than usual and some of your lifestyle activities might also change. Set aside time to plan out your new routine. You might have to meal prep your breakfast for days where you’re going back to the office. Or you may have to shift around your exercise routine or your self-care routine to suit your new normal. These are just a couple of the many examples you can base your routine on.
Back when I was remote working, I would plan 2 weekday morning swims on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the pool near my home. However, with the washing up and commute time, I wouldn’t be able to do so if I needed to go to the office! Now that I’m working in a hybrid mode, I shifted things around, and I swim on days I’m working from home.
3.Create something to look forward to in the office
You might want to plan a lunch date with your colleagues ahead of time. The last time you might have seen your colleagues in person was 2 years ago, or you might have never met them in person. Take the initiative to plan a lunch date with your colleagues to connect or reconnect with them.
You may also want to put in effort to make your workspace enjoyable and comfortable.
When I knew that I had to go back to the office more often, I treated myself and bought an “office cup” that I would leave on my work desk. For some of my colleagues around me, they have chosen to decorate their desk with desk mats, candles, and even small plants!
4.Prepare yourself well the night before
Start with picking out your outfit! This might be the perfect time for you to change out of your sweatpants and bring out your work clothes that have been in the closet for the longest time. Dressing well might just be the pick-me-up you need!
Next up, pack your bag to ensure that you have everything that you need for your workday. E.g., your laptop, mouse, keyboard, umbrella, water bottle etc. This will help you ease into your day.
Lastly, ensure that you have 7-9 hours of sleep the night before. This can help to reduce your nervousness and help to promote positive feelings.
A Final Word
Different individuals may respond differently to the ever-changing situations. Some may adapt more easily than others, you don’t have to feel bad for “lagging behind others”. Prepare and plan out your day to ensure a smooth and confident transition to your new working arrangement.
About Actxa Wellness
Actxa Wellness’ mission is to bring about sustainable lifestyle solutions through fitness, health and wellness. Our flagship programme is the Actxa Wellness Programme which provides employee wellness solutions to team build and create culture; elevate engagement and happiness; and improve overall mental wellbeing.
From providing hardware to track personalised physiological data, to leveraging a proprietary algorithm called the Healthy Living Score (HLS), to incorporating a tried-and-tested curriculum which includes workshops and challenges to engage and build sustainable positive lifestyle habits revolved around EAT, REST and EXERCISE, we have got our clients well covered.
About Sheryl Ng
Sheryl is the Programme Lead for the Actxa Wellness Programme. Her passion for health and wellness stems from her love for sport. She’s constantly on the lookout for interesting, meaningful and evidence-backed wellness related content so that she can level-up her content knowledge, to share with others.
If she’s not creating content or delivering wellness workshops, you can find her in the kitchen trying out healthy and delicious recipes or enjoying the outdoors!