10 May 2021

5 Tips To Feel Empowered When Returning To The Office

Here’s how to protect your wellbeing while navigating changes.

As a collective, we’ve gone through major changes in our lives in the past year - working from home, balancing work and personal life, dealing with an unexpected pandemic, and overall just trying to get through a unique time in our existence.

Things are finally opening up again… As you’re moving through this process, a lot of emotions can come up. After a year of adapting to the work-from-home life, going back to the office can seem like a daunting prospect.

But here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to be.

In today’s blog post, I’m going to give you my best advice on how to rock your return to the office. Spoiler alert: the power is all yours.

Why I’m talking about this

Women and young people seem to be experiencing mental distress more than others. This is mostly due to the comfort and flexibility that WFH conditions allow, which will no longer be entirely available.

You’ve been telling me it takes you twice as long to get ready in the morning because you’ve got so used to being around the house…

On top of that, there’s commuting, 8 hours at a desk, people making noise around, distractions, meetings...

All of it can definitely bring up anxiety and stress.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said it best: we’ve never been through this before, so we all have to do our best to help each other keep our mental and physical health intact.

Together with other organisations in the UK, CIPD calls for compassion and empathy while nurturing a better relationship between you and your workplace.

The great things about returning to the office

Your workplace is so much more than a desk and a long list of to-dos.

Even though working from home has its perks, we can’t forget that returning to the office can be fun and productive:

  • impromptu moments with your co-workers, talking and cracking jokes, reminiscing, or simply just being in the presence of other people;
  • a deeper focus on your work because you’re in a place that promotes productivity and efficiency;
  • all the right resources you need to do your job (anyone else desperately missing a printer?!);
  • the opportunity to connect better with others in meetings, because video calls can only do so much.

If you’ve found yourself missing the buzz of the office, I’m rooting for you to enjoy it all.

Don’t worry, this blog post is for you, too! Keep reading to get my favourite tips on how to make the best of these moments.

5 tips to rock returning to the office

1. Imagine your ideal week

If the pandemic situation has enabled you to experience more freedom in your life by working from home, it could be overwhelming to try to go back to the old ways.

And we’ve all moved on from the old ways This is our opportunity to shape new ones.

It may seem like your week depends on your work goals, but that’s not true. YOU decide. These are important but remember they don’t have to come above everything else.

Create balance. Think about the non-negotiables when it comes to your personal needs and desires (i.e. family time, self-care time, meditation, gym etc.) and build your week around that as much as possible.

Remember: busyness doesn’t make you more valuable or deserving of being validated. You already are both of those.

2. Talk openly to your boss

Every company is trying to figure this out. Leaders are under a lot of pressure to navigate it as smoothly as possible, but they’re only human at the end of the day.

This is about working together to adapt to the new normal: lots of new rules, uncertainty, and demands for different work conditions.

Talk to your boss. Have a genuine conversation about how you can move through this together. Speak your mind - not to “negotiate”, but to make sure you’re voicing your needs.

Ease into it. Propose working conditions like 3 days/week at the office or whatever works for you. Find some common ground.

Also, if you don’t have peace of mind around safety in the workplace, definitely bring that up with your boss. They’re required by law to take every measure to ensure the best safety for their employees.

3. Ask for help from family and friends

If you’re anything like I was years ago, you may feel like asking for help is a sign of weakness.

You’ve been building yourself up for so long, creating a wildly successful career, getting to this point where you’re the best. And the best can’t possibly need help, right?

Uhm… wrong.

Asking for support is a sign of strength, not weakness. You can let yourself be a bit vulnerable. Reach out to someone you trust, spark a conversation, and open up about how you’re feeling.

It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, it can be as casual as you want, but don’t hold back from leaning on other people sometimes.

A support system is important. Make sure you build yours and have a network of women who will cheer you on and hold you up when you need it. Let asking for help be part of your growth.

4. Be kind to yourself

Are you anxious about seeing your colleagues, clients, or boss face-to-face?

Recognise your emotions and allow yourself to feel them. It’s perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable - we’re all going through a transition period.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. Be kind to yourself while navigating it all and have your own back when things get a bit more difficult. It’s a tricky time in all of our lives, and we’re doing the best we can to get through the inevitable changes.

My advice? Open yourself up to the possibility of having fun moments throughout the day. Maybe a laugh with a colleague, a smile from an old client you haven’t seen in a year, a good word from your boss for your fabulous work through this all… These small things count.

5. Hype up your team - and let them do the same for you

If you’re a leader, this is the moment to nurture and consolidate your team. Everyone will be facing different struggles - time away from family, resistance to letting go of the flexibility they’ve been enjoying, social anxiety…

This is not to say that you have to “keep it together” for them. Even better! This is to say that you’re not alone.

Remind them of your collective purpose. Listen to their individual needs and share your own. Learn from the wisdom they’ve been gaining throughout this time.

This is an opportunity for a fresh start. In one way or another, we’ve all become a new version of ourselves during this past year. Take the time to get to know everyone again.

Share these moments, learn from each other, and come together to create a new normal that serves all of you.

Remember: we’re all navigating this in our own way.

It’s a period of transition from the old normal to the new one. There’s no standard you have to reach when returning to work. You don’t have to put pressure on yourself.

Embrace the “new normal” and define it to serve YOU, not everybody else (no, not your boss either).

You don’t have to have it all figured out, and you certainly don’t have to deny your struggles (or your excitement!). We’ve all been in a pandemic that turned our lives upside down. You’re entitled to your feelings and you should feel free to take control of your own life moving forward.

Have fun, have coffee every morning with your co-workers, share jokes, share about what your life has been like, and the things you’ve learnt from slowing down a little.

It’s time to really think about how you can own this next chapter. Start today.

If you need some support, I’d be honoured to support you in creating a FABULOUS next chapter that enables you to live your best life. Let’s chat.

Jeni Carroll

As a certified life coach, Jeni helps busy, successful women ditch overwhelm & selfdoubt & rediscover their energy, passion & freedom with proven strategies.

Ready to ditch the overwhelm and self-doubt? Start your transformation now.