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What will home workers miss most on the return back to normal?

Mark Taylor, Managing Director - Office Furniture Online

Come “Freedom Day” on the 19th of July, many offices can expect an influx of staff. But, for those that have worked from home throughout the pandemic, and have become a little too comfortable with joining Zoom calls in their PJ bottoms, or treating themselves to an extra hour in bed, just how prepared are they for a change of routine?

A new study* recently delved into workers’ attitudes towards heading back to the office, including what they’ll miss most about working from home, alongside what, if anything, they’re looking forward to about their return.

According to the findings, some of the top things workers will miss most about working from home are as follows:

  • No commute (49%)
  • Lie-ins/getting up later than usual (42%)
  • Peace and quiet (41%)
  • Working in their pyjamas (28%)
  • Spending more time with their furry friends (26%)

One in 10 (13%) also stated they’ll miss seeing other people’s pets on Zoom calls.

Looking at the things workers are most looking forward to ahead of their return, although 15% state they’re not looking forward to anything, for those that are, some of the top factors include:

  • Office gossip and banter (35%)
  • After work socials including drinks (31%)
  • Big, collaborative meetings (18%)
  • Perks such as free food (17%)
  • Escaping their childcare responsibilities (14%)

It’s no secret that many workers may feel a little anxious ahead of their return to the office, having worked from home for nearly 18-months now. So, to help workers best prepare, Julian Hall, co-founder of My Internal World shares three simple tips.

  1. Pre-book face to face meetings
    Make it your mission to reconnect and have physical meetings with those you have missed. It’s so much better to start the return to the office with pleasurable meetings to look forward to. Think of this as the first day at work when part of your settling in was building rapport with fellow workers.
  1. Make yourself aware of the new office rules
    Before your return, you should be informed of the new rules your office space has implemented to ensure the safety of its staff. Take some time to familiarise yourself with the new rules and communicate any questions or concerns you might have with your employer. By doing so, this will ensure you’re mentally prepared for how the office may have changed when you return. 
  1. Breathe
    Use breathing to manage your emotions. Before retreating into anxiety or rising to fight because of restrictions or behaviour you do not agree with, stop, spend 60 seconds focusing on your breathing. This has two advantages; you are engaging your parasympathetic nervous system and starting to lower the adrenaline in your system, and you are giving yourself time to respond rather than react.

Mark Taylor, Managing Director of Office Furniture Online, also says:

“Returning to the workplace will be a shock to the system for many, however, workers mustn’t rush the process. Many employers will have set out a phased return policy for employees to help ease them back, therefore it’s important this is read before your return, so you’re fully aware of the changes, and what’s expected of you in terms of working days within the workplace.

“The return of the commute is also a factor to be considered. Having not experienced the daily commute for such a long time now, a trial run will help to determine how long the commute may take, or whether there’s an easier route that can be taken. This will also benefit those who started a new role during the lockdown and haven’t travelled to the office yet. Each of these preparations will hopefully help to relieve the first day nerves which we’re all bound to feel.

“If you’re a business leader, consider making your staff feel welcome when they come back to the office, with a welcome basket, or a (safety conscious) team event like a BBQ or picnic. Ask them about their concerns, and how you can make the transition as easy as possible for them.”

*data from Office Furniture Online

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