As the coronavirus vaccine rollout continues and pandemic restrictions are lifted across the country, many workplaces and offices, shuttered for more than a year, are reopening — meaning employees who have been working remotely are being called back to their buildings.
It's a transition that experts say can bring up feelings of stress and trepidation for those who have been working from home for the past year, a majority of whom say they'd be interested in continuing to work remotely even after the pandemic subsides, according to a recent survey by YouGov.
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.
If you're anxious about the return to the office, consider these 5 strategies to ease the transition to in-person work.
Hold a dress rehearsal
Rehearsing your daily routine is one way to combat first-day jitters, says Connecticut-based clinical psychologist Holly Schiff.
Schiff advises worried clients to plan a “dry run” of their workday: Choose a day to wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed and commute like you normally would. If you have access to your workplace, Schiff says to consider entering the lobby or asking for permission to spend some time at your desk (people who aren't able to do so can visualize or write down the details of what it's like to be in their workspace instead).
This not only gives you the chance to sort out any hitches — for example, has the bus schedule changed since last year? Did you remember to bring your office key card? — but also prepares you physically and mentally for what your new routine will feel like.
And don't forget the “dress” in dress rehearsal, says life and career coach Stefania Baita, who specializes in back-to-work transitions. Take stock of your wardrobe before the first day of work and try things on. Don't beat yourself up about any pandemic weight gain, she says. Rather, use this as an opportunity to invest in a few new, key pieces of clothing to carry you through the transition.
Streamline routines and practice self-care
Returning to the office doesn't just mean a change to your workday, but to household routines like childcare arrangements or your sleep schedule that may have shifted during the pandemic.
"Do your best in your home environment to simplify,” says Annie McKee, a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and the author of How to Be Happy at Work. “If your kids were involved in 10 activities prior to the pandemic, maybe seven will do now. If you're the one who does the grocery shopping, keep using [a delivery service]."
APPLYING FOR A JOB?
AARP RESUME ADVISOR CAN HELP
Free resume review provides tips for highlighting your skills and experience.