It’s been a long time coming, but this month marks the month I’ll be returning to work in the office for the first time since our world was temporarily turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working from home has come with its challenges, but at the same time I’ve learnt so much from it. Most importantly too, on a wider scale, companies up and down the country and indeed all over the world have entered into a new age where working away from an office is considered more practical than ever.
So what am I thinking and how am I feeling about returning back to working in the office? It’s been 554 days since I last set foot there, and so much has changed since.
Whilst heading back to work will be a different experience for different people, in this post, I talk about things I’m personally considering about returning to the office.
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The office atmosphere won’t be the same!
Pre-pandemic, I worked in a relatively busy office building with an approximate capacity of around 400 people. I enjoy being in a busy environment.
I guess that’s one of the things about working from home and not in the office. I can sit in my own bedroom, in my own clothes and to an extent it’s quite easy going. However, in the office there’ll be more eyes on me and more people to interact with, so already it’s going to be extremely different to what I’m experiencing at home.
Not only that, but the atmosphere in the office will have changed dramatically.
I should add that I will only be going back to the office on a part time basis; 14 hours of my contracted 35 will be spent there with the other 21 at home.
Now, as this is the same for so many people, the number of people in the office at any one time will be significantly reduced from around 400 to less than 70. It’s going to be so quiet! With such a rapid reduction of the staff in the building at any one time, it’s going to be interesting adapting to an atmosphere that will naturally seem more relaxed just because it’s going to feel like such a ghost town most of the time.
Flexibility is key
So many of us have had to be flexible when it comes to working from home, which for so many of us was sprung upon us as a complete surprise.
Whether it’s setting up office equipment or simply finding ways to adapt to a different view at home, we’ve all probably shown we’re more flexible than we ever thought we were, especially inside our own individual organisations.
I’m fairly confident I’ll be able to adapt pretty well to going back part time, and having set days every week that I attend the office and set days I stay home. However, I do think it’ll take a little while to get into the swing of things.
It’s going to cost a little bit more
Not an awful lot more, but just something to consider!
I don’t drive, so getting the train into work will set me back another ten quid or so every week based on the two days I’ll be going into the office.
Plus, with an outlet centre just over the road, I’m always susceptible to popping in there to grab lunch or snacks for the week which can always be a dangerous game. Sure, I eat the food we buy in our weekly food shop when I’m working at home, but that’s pretty much always already factored into our budget anyway.
Due to the amount of time spent away from the office, I have wondered about how social I will be when the time comes to return.
I generally spend pretty much every lunch break on my own, just going for a walk to listen to music or phone home. I don’t imagine I’ll revert into a massive social butterfly, but I do think I should probably make more effort to be more open to mixing things up a little and being more forward with spending lunch hours with colleagues; which will inevitably lead to a little more cash being splashed!
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We’ve never “distanced” with these people before
Whilst I’ve been working from home, a select few colleagues have remained in the office and have probably gotten quite comfortable with the distancing rules they’ve been required to follow and the spaces that have been created as a result.
Now as I said above, there’s not a huge amount of us going back into the office, but with more people in the building there’s bound to be a little bit of a relaxation when it comes to social distancing.
As an individual, I’ve made the choice not to wear my mask at all in public apart from where it’s still required; however as it stands, they’re still required to wear a face covering in the office when leaving your desk. That in itself will feel strange!
There’s also that slight concern that some people may not feel as comfortable as I do. Do you still offer to keep your distance? I don’t know; I mean I’m not eager to go around hugging people don’t get me wrong, but you still don’t want to upset/endanger somebody unintentionally.
My desk drawers haven’t been opened for a while….
In all seriousness, I can’t remember whether I left any food in there….we left in such a hurry and didn’t think it’d be over 18 months until we came back!
I don’t think I did….
It isn’t just limited to this though. It’s getting used to sitting at a desk again, next to people, going to the toilet not in the comfort of your own home and so many things like this that I previously considered normal when working in an office. It might take a little longer to adjust to it than I might have thought.
I might need to smarten up a little bit
One of the benefits of working at home is that old story about how presentable you do or don’t need to be; it’s not quite the idea of shirt and tie on top for Zoom meetings with pyjamas on the bottom, but working from your bedroom does give me the freedom to be a little more relaxed with my attire.
I can’t tell you how often I’ve worn joggers whilst I work over the last 18 months, hell sometimes I’ve worn my dressing gown if I’ve got a little chilly.
Now I am lucky that, pre-pandemic, our office encouraged us to dress as casually and comfortably as we wanted whilst still adhering to office guidelines. However I still think they’ll frown upon the idea of me turning up to work in what is essentially an oversized fluffy robe.
So I guess I’m going to have to get used to wearing jeans again…..at least for two days a week.
It’ll never be the same again!
Say, for example, I stay in the same job for the rest of my life.
I bloody hope not, but say that happens.
I’ll potentially never work full time in an office ever again! If you’d have told me a couple of years ago that the tables would turn in the way they have, I’d never have believed you.
Am I looking forward to splitting my time? Yeah, I am actually. It’s nice to have the option to split my working time between home and office; it leaves me a chance to be there for school if need be but it also gives me an opportunity to separate my work and home life once again.
I’ve been eternally grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to work from home during the pandemic, as so many people have not been so lucky when it comes to furlough schemes and redundancies etc.
With the way the world is looking, we’re hoping that we’re never in this position again, but at least I’ll know that I can work at home again safe in the knowledge that I’m able to do so with everything I’ll need.
Have you recently returned to your place of work? If so, how did you find the transition? Have you got something in place for you to work part time at home?
Let me know in the comments!