As businesses make plans to return to the office, employees who have been working remotely need to prepare for their lives to change again. While working from home can be challenging, it has some significant advantages.
If your employer is preparing to reopen the office, here are 10 things you may find yourself missing about working from home.
1. The comfy wardrobe
When you work from home almost anything goes for the clothes you wear, as long as you have a nice top at the ready for impromptu Zoom calls. So-called hard pants — anything with structure, like jeans or trousers — were out. Sweats, joggers, yoga pants, shorts and anything stretchy became the clothes of comfort.
"Your wardrobe choices are so simple and easy. When you're going back to work, you actually do care about, ‘Do these shoes work with this outfit?’ When you're on Zoom, you can wear the same thing every day for a month and no one would really notice,” says workplace expert Chester Elton, coauthor of Anxiety at Work: 8 Strategies to Help Teams Build Resilience, Handle Uncertainty, and Get Stuff Done.
Banking professional Tanya Taylor, a 50-something who worked from home for more than a year before going back to the office, says she misses not having to deal with hair and makeup. “Daily grooming has been very relaxed in the last year,” she says.
2. The work/life blend
Becky Melvin, 59, did gig work during the pandemic, after she left her job as director of book publicity at a major publisher. She delivered groceries to earn money while she figured out what was next. And she loved the ability to make her own schedule and blend personal demands with those of her job. Last year she landed a job as senior public relations account manager with a midsize PR firm. In the early days she found the transition tricky, especially getting personal tasks done.
"It's nice to be able to throw in a load of laundry in between Zoom calls. You could still get your life done on a day-to-day basis while you were working,” she notes. Whether you wanted to get in a quick run during down time, have lunch with your family members who were also present or start dinner a little early, being at home often makes it easier, Elton agrees.
3. The down-the-hall commute
Taylor also dreaded restarting her 80-minute round-trip commute. She has appreciated having that extra time back in her day, she says, time that helped her work on her part-time personal project, a blog called Travels and Treasures. Elton adds that not worrying about traffic, weather, being late to the office and — most of all — health and safety issues has been a big relief for many remote workers over the past year.
Robert Glazer, CEO of marketing firm Acceleration Partners and author of How to Thrive in the Virtual Workplace, says that the lack of a commute is something many remote professionals will miss. But he adds that it's a good idea to develop a “virtual commute,” even when you're working from home, to make the mental shift between being on the job and being on your own time. Take a few minutes to straighten your desk, plan your next day or otherwise close down your home office, to create boundaries between work and home.