With ‘the end of the UK lockdown’ nearing, a UK wide return to the office is most likely on the cards for many – fingers crossed!

A lot of us have already been making the transition back to office life, whether it’s been for a day or two a week or fully, in reduced staff numbers, a new normal has been happening. However, if you or your team haven’t started the transition or like the above have only been back for short periods, it’s time to start preparing yourself and your employees.

Below are some tips for when you and your team return:

  • Remember to communicate your thoughts and feelings

Happy, sad, excited, nervous, concerned… these are all normal emotions that you or your team may feel on return to the office, but it’s important to let your team convey these feelings, and listen well if they express concern. It’s been a long year working from home and some people naturally will have adapted better than others. Having a pre-return chat to discuss returning and if you or they have any concerns or questions, can make everyone feel more comfortable about the return and can provide a better understanding about how the office will operate going forward.

  • Accept that it won’t back to ‘normal’ on the 1st day

Many businesses across the world have had to adapt how they work over the past year, some more drastically than others. Now non-essential shops, gyms and hairdressers are open again, the return to the office does signify a light at the end of the tunnel, yet you can’t assume we will be able to carry on immediately like ‘normal’. Think carefully about inviting external people into the business, holding big in-person meetings, and shaking hands – there is still a risk and you can’t assume everyone is feeling as comfortable with these plans as you may be. Until there is an all clear from the government and vaccine targets are met, you should keep your workplace as Covid secure as possible.

  • Remember to take a break and have time away from your computer

It may take a while to get back into your usual routine, so it’s important not to glue yourself to your desk or expect your team to. We only have the capacity to focus for a certain amount of time each day, don’t burn yourself out by forcing yourself to outdo this time frame. Get up for a walk to the printer, kitchen for a water, get out for a lunchtime breather, or even eat outside. Just remember to drink plenty of water and take regular short breaks to help you feel more focused and refreshed throughout the day.

  • Ease into it and allow some home comforts

After working from home for the past year, some of the team may be itching to return to their usual routine, however going from home life to the office so quickly can be difficult to adapt to, no matter how eager people may be to return. Ease your team into it, perhaps staggering the teams return and slowly build up the days they work in the office up to full time again, or discuss the option of more flexible working. You could also bring in more appropriate home comforts with you into the office, maybe not your dog or cat, but your favourite mug, photo, radio/playlist, or by keeping your draws stocked with everything and anything you usually would have to hand at home, so that way you have everything you need.

  • Leave on time

It’s no surprise that during working from home, a lot of people have increased the hours they work. Doing an hour extra here and there, picking up emails/calls in the evening, or even skipping lunch all together, often without realising. Going back to the office gives you chance to redefine the difference between home and work - giving you a break and time to switch off. A lot of jobs naturally go beyond a 9-5 and can require some evening work, however it’s important to find a new work/life balance that works for you again.

Going back to ‘normal’ will take time, and how long that transition will be, will differ from person to person. It’s been a long year working from home, but eventually going back to the office will be a part of life again.