Back to the office blues affects people in different ways and it is often just a temporary blip.
Following an unprecedented and anxiety-ridden period of working from home, it seems fair to expect the transition back to the office to be a little more intense than usual though.
Having to share space, commute and fit back into a rigid routine may feel tiring and restrictive; anxieties about health and your career probably won’t help either.
But getting back to the office is ultimately vital for work to return to normal.
While it may be tough at first, there are several things you can do to lighten the load. And most importantly, get rid of your back to work blues.
1. Expand your network and make connections
It is only natural to feel slightly inhibited when returning to the office; after months of relative autonomy, you are suddenly surrounded by colleagues and expected to conform to workplace norms.
Rather than hiding this, you should embrace it. Use the opportunity to expand your network and create a new level of intimacy with your co-workers.
Share your experiences of the pandemic; open up about your anxieties and fears; be honest about how you feel to be back in the office: you might be surprised how much it resonates.
Not only will this make you feel more comfortable, but it will also help generate positive energy and openness throughout the team.
After months of restricted socialising, most people will be hugely grateful for the interaction; even if you’re secretly sad to be back to the office, enthusiasm can go an awful long way.
2. Take regular breaks
The pressure to perform in the office can be immense; it’s important to pace yourself and take time out regularly.
Too often, breaks are viewed as a way of avoiding work. But the reality is they tend ultimately to improve performance.
Not only do regular breaks help break up the workload. It can also avoid the dangers of burnout. They actually increase productivity, creativity and motivation.
There are a variety of ways you can structure your breaks – from the 20-20-20 rule to simply grabbing a coffee and checking in with your colleagues.
Try to find ways of using the time that gives you a boost: you should think of breaks as a way of rewarding yourself for concentrating and integrate them into your daily plan.
3. Make plans
While the pandemic has caused a great deal of uncertainty, planning for the future is still possible. And this will help put the present in perspective.
Whether plotting your next holiday, personal projects you’d like to undertake or simply figuring out what you’re going to do with the next weekend, making plans is vital to overcoming the back to office blues.
This goes for individual days too: having a clear schedule and designing your daily tasks intelligently can have a huge knock-on effect.
For example: starting the day with a simple but worthwhile task. Work on something you can do quickly but will feel good about achieving, This will set the whole day in positive motion.
4. Work on your sleep
There is nothing more powerful for your overall well being than improving your sleep. Bad sleep lowers your IQ, makes you more hungry and ultimately brings about worse moods and higher frustration levels.
Few focus on sleep as a means of feeling better. It is because it seems so simple and often isn’t obviously related to the problems you’re facing.
When you delve down to the root of back to the office blues, however, disruptions to your established sleep patterns and an overall change in energy levels are often a major contributor.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can go about improving your sleep: from exercising and eating more healthily to reducing light exposure and improving the environment you sleep in.
The physical effects of lockdown won’t be understood for a long time, but it seems fair to say everybody’s bodies will have to slowly adapt back to normalcy. Sleep is key to unlocking the energy necessary to do this.
5. Negotiate more flexibility
If none of this is enough and you still feel bad about being back at the office, it might be time to negotiate a more flexible way of working.
Of course, this can be daunting and shouldn’t be taken lightly, but you will probably be surprised how susceptible to the idea management is.
The best approach is to lay out exactly why you think a flexible approach will improve your performance and overall satisfaction; you also need to be ready to negotiate in person and make clear that it is an important issue for you.
Ultimately, one-third of your life is spent at work. It is essential to look after yourself to avoid burnout. Read our guide on identifying burnout at work and what you can do about it.
If it is still impacting you a lot, maybe it is time for a new career opportunity.