Back to the Future

A return to the office

29th September 2020

With companies slowly returning to the office what impact will it have?  Like everything in life there are pros and cons related to a return to the office.

For people who have been struggling with trying to find space at home for the home office and the mental health issues related to working from home it might be a welcome relief to get back into the work environment.

A ‘one size fits all’ strategy will not work for everyone.

Some might be glad to finally slip out of the slippers and slip back into some less comfortable work shoes! Laces?  Heels? What are they I hear you scream!

We were quick to pack up our offices and bolt out of the office and car parks with our favourite mug packed into a box with our laptop, highlighters, screens and keyboards. But maybe we’re not so fast to get back into the car, face commuter traffic again, purchase over-priced take away coffee and return the highlighters to the stationery cupboard!

The mental challenges we faced at the start of working from home and the pandemic still weigh on our minds.  Are we afraid that readjusting our routines of the past 6 months will reactivate the stress and anxiety experienced at the start of what we thought was going to be a two week break from the office? God be with the days when ‘the fear’ was related to waking up with a hangover from a heavy night on the sesh…now the new ‘fear’ relates to what lies ahead of us in the office!

But the room won’t spin and you won’t have to wait anxiously for photos of you to appear on Facebook doing the unspeakable!  In fact, going back to the office a few days a week and gradually reintroducing our old routines might not be such a bad thing.  It might actually alleviate our new fears.

While we all joke about falling out of the bed at 8.25am and being at our home workstations at 8.30am in our pyjamas, the reality of it is that a lot of people are still operating on their old working hours.

While some of us are still up at 6.30am, the difference now is that instead of spending half an hour (or more in some cases) trying to look presentable and an hour commuting, we are now up and out walking/exercising, having breakfast in the kitchen as opposed to at our desks, cleaning the house, putting on the wash and we’re still ready to start the day job at 8.30am!

Interactions with colleagues have now become project focused and our sense of connection has deteriorated.  While it’s easier to ignore a work colleague’s email request for assistance than it is if they are standing at our desk staring down at us, the impromptu, engaging and totally irrelevant conversations are no longer happening.  When was the last time you asked a colleague what they got up to at the weekend or complimented them (even if you don’t really like their new haircut or think they are a little over the hill to be wearing such an outfit!) or simply asked them how they are doing (in your best Joey Tribbiani voice!).

But saying that, people are now figuring out answers for themselves. Whilst it was once easier to just turn and ask a work colleague or manager for an answer people are now figuring out things for themselves resulting in a greater sense of responsibility.

Being remote can be proving productive for some people while others want to feel part of something bigger. A ‘one size fits all’ strategy will not work for everyone.  The best thing you can do is talk to your team lead or manager about how you feel about returning to the office. If you have had your shirts ironed, your shoes polished and your travel mug ready to go for the past 6 months and you are more than ready to get back into the office…great! If on the other hand you have questions around social distancing, if you can use the work canteen or how often the desks are sanitised then ask! If you need more time to sort out childcare, then ask!  For once there is no such thing as a stupid question! Remember the only person that can take care of you is yourself.  Stay safe, stay sane, stay sensible.

If you are currently looking for a new role please send your CV to queries@peglobal.net or call +353 21 4297900

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