Changing the Narrative Around Returning the Office
It’s been well over a year since some of us have worked in the office environment we were all so used to pre-pandemic. Now that returning to the office is becoming a real certainty, many people are starting to feel apprehensive or reluctant—in fact, only 1 in 5 people have gone back to the office since ‘Freedom Day’ in the UK.
Like a lot of people, I’ve become very accustomed to working from home—I’ve got my morning routine sorted, a WFH setup that allows me to work comfortably and I’ve fully embraced the use of Zoom, Slack and Gmail to keep in touch with colleagues.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not enthusiastic about getting back into the office to see everyone again after so long.
It’s understandable to be reluctant to come back to the office after getting so strongly into the WFH mindset. But there are lots of positives, so in this piece, I’ll be going through some of the reasons we should re-frame the idea of returning to work as something positive and motivating.
The end of isolation
Who wants to spend all day within the walls of their home office or bedroom? Sure, being comfortably at home has its perks but it’s not good for anyone’s mental health to be alone for so long.
One of the biggest drawbacks of working from home is the lack of social interaction; not being able to be around your colleagues, have a chat while making a coffee, or simply just having someone to sit next to.
Being back at the office will see the end of isolation, instead, we’ll be spending our days chatting to colleagues and catching up on some much-needed social interaction.
Improving mental health
The pandemic, in general, has been bad for everyone’s mental health. Not only has it been the isolation that has affected us, but also the immeasurable heartache and problems that have been caused by COVID-19. It’s been a lot for everyone to handle.
Being back at the office may feel daunting, but it’s a step towards the normalcy we once knew, which will ease the pressure that’s been on your mental health.
You can get back to being around other people, ask them if they’re OK, have a chat and get back into a safe, supportive environment that can help improve your mental health.
Get back to ‘proper’ conversations
Things like Zoom and Slack have proved a real life-saver over lockdown, allowing us to continue communicating like normal, even when we’re not in the same room.
However, nothing will ever be the same as having proper conversations, face-to-face with your colleagues.
I know that I’m looking forward to being able to turn around and ask a question to the person sitting next to me without having to type out a message and wait for a response.
Being in the office, we won’t have to worry about poor internet connections, being on mute or poor-quality microphones, we can just get back to real in-person conversations.
Over the pandemic, it’s been hard to build relationships and connections with people outside of your immediate team. You don’t get to bump into people in the corridors, or around the office like you used to.
It’s also been especially hard for people who have joined a company during the pandemic. These employees may have never got the chance to build connections with other colleagues that can turn into strong relationships.
These are the kinds of relationships that keep people in their jobs and help them to stay motivated in their role. The longer we stay at home, the longer we go without letting these relationships develop.
Employees will not feel a bond with the people they work with, so it’s important to get back into the office to let these relationships develop.
Embrace the company culture
Another thing that keeps employees in their roles is the company culture, which can be hard to instil when working remotely.
A good, positive culture is the backbone of any successful company with satisfied employees. It helps employees to feel more happy, valued and encouraged to do their best work.
By returning to the office, leaders get the chance to instil this culture into their employees, and employees will start to feel more motivated and satisfied in their roles.
Coming back into the office after the pandemic is going to be such a relief and something to look forward to.
If you’re feeling nervous or apprehensive about it, it’s a good idea to speak to your manager, or someone in your company’s HR team, who can put you at ease and suggest ideas to make the return smoother.