Workers have started returning to the office. Photo: Leon

Tips as staff return to office

By Katie O'Keeffe

Finding your feet as you return to the office can be daunting.

For some it has been almost 18 months of working from home with limited social contact outside of a small social bubble.

Now the latest easing of Covid-19 restrictions mean many staff get to go back to the workplace and people are getting the chance to meet colleagues again or even for the first time.

Cork-based life, career and teen coach Anna Lehane told the Cork Independent some of her top tips for helping people find their feet as they return to the office.

She said: “It can be a really overwhelming situation for people going into an office setting. I would just advise people to take it day by day and take it as it comes.”

For those who are nervous to return to a workplace in general, Anna says finding out as much information on the return as possible is key as the lack of information causes a negative default setting to fill in the blank.

“Write down a list of your concerns look at each one and ask yourself what action can I take? Bring the issues to your manager and see what they suggest, if they don’t have one for you offer one yourself, communicate what would help you. If the option of hybrid working is available and it suits you for the start of the return, do it,” she says.

For a lot of people this will be their first time in the office as they started their new job remotely. It may feel like a lot of pressure to make friends even in an adult work setting, but these new colleagues have also been working remotely, so everybody is in the same situation.

Anna says the best way to overcome the social aspect of the office can be something as simple as small talk.

“Communicate with your colleagues they are likely feeling nervous too, sometime small talk can go a long way,” she explained.

One complaint for many people was that as working from home continued, it became increasingly difficult to separate the two; your kitchen became your office and no longer a haven for family meals.

She continued: “In a way, going back is good to be able to separate work from home. Leave work at work, make a commitment to yourself to focus on your personal life once you clock out. If you don’t set those boundaries in place, other people wont respect them either.”

As the change in season rolls in and the shorter days and longer nights approach, it can be easy to fall into the trap of going home and cocooning after work but Anna advises that one social commitment a week can help boost your mood greatly,

“If you can make one social commitment a week, especially coming into the darker winter days, be it meeting someone for a walk or a yoga class, t can help your mental health to just have that one thing to look forward to outside of your every day schedule,” she said.

For many the return to work is on a phased basis as social distancing rules will still apply for at least another month.

Anna’s final piece of advice is simple: “Be gentle with yourself, it’s a big change.”