Heading back to the office? Here’s how to make it a smooth transition 

27 January 2022 Sharyn Waterworth

Returning to the office

​Courtesy of COVID-19, remote work has become the new norm for many of us over the last two years. 

But as Australia (and the world) begins to open again, many of us are going to be transitioning back to the office soon enough (if you haven’t already). 

If you’re an employee, this news might come as a shock to you. You might feel like you have to ‘relearn’ everything — from socialising, to putting on pants in the morning, to packing lunch, and sitting in peak hour traffic. 

You’re probably anxious about the health implications and want to make sure you’re safe at work. 

If you’re a manager or employer, you’re dealing with all of the above, plus the extra pressure of being the person who needs to instigate and regulate a smooth transition for your employees. 

Here are our tips for making it a smooth transition.

1. Don’t give up the small joys 

If you worked remotely for any extended period in the last few years, chances are you developed a few habits that brought you joy throughout the day. 
You might have gotten really good at doing crossword puzzles while you waited for your coffee to cool, or maybe you made it a habit to sit outside while you enjoyed your lunch. 
Whatever positive habits you started, keep going with it. Returning to the office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still make the time to do what makes you feel good. 

2.  Prioritise your mental health 

Our biggest message is this: stay in touch with how you’re coping. 

As silly as it sounds, transitioning back to the office IS a big change, and it’s going to take time to become reacquainted with it. Don’t push yourself and please don’t be too hard on yourself. 

If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or like your mental health might be taking a dip, assess what small things you can do to lighten the load. 

And, if you feel comfortable, speak with your employer or manager. Let them know where you’re at and what you need from them. 

Whether that be more flexible working hours, extra support or more information on how they’re planning to manage your team's wellbeing. 

3. Support the health and wellbeing of your colleagues

Let your colleagues know you’re there to support them. This isn’t just saying it once, in passing. Consistently reminding your colleagues that you care honestly goes a long way.

If your workplace doesn’t have clear guidelines in place for things like mask-wearing and social distancing, create them! (Or if this isn’t in your remit, push for them!)

If you're a manager, making yourself available to your team is one of the best ways to show you care; just like active listening demonstrates you’re present and in the moment. 

4. Make it a gradual transition

Going straight back to the office full-time is likely to be jarring, so we’d definitely recommend a gradual transition period. 

Easing into your new normal so you’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed or resentful about the change. 

If you’re planning on bringing your team back to in-person work, make sure they have a heads up well in advance so they can make plans and get mentally prepared. 

Looking for more HR tips? Check out our blog.