Headed back to the office? 8 tips to help you feel zen
The chill in the air and the cool fall breeze let us know that summer has left us once again. But fall can also be a much-needed refreshing and reinvigorating time, like turning a page and leaving the fast, fun and often chaotic summer behind.
As restrictions lift, some of us are excited about heading back to the office, while others don’t plan on going back at all. And if you’re reliving those back-to-school jitters – don’t worry! We’ve got your back. We spoke to various thought-leaders and industry professionals about what their fall is looking like and got their best tips for easing into a new routine.
1. Remind yourself of everything you’ve missed and are excited about
Tired of staring at the four walls in your bedroom or your chilly basement? You’re not the only one. Space became a significant factor during the pandemic and dividing your work and personal space (especially when sharing with loved ones) became quite a contention point.
Laurie, an events professional in Waterloo, says it’s all about change and getting excited about a new scenery and routine.
“For me, it’s even just having different coffee in the mornings! Or the excitement of getting to pick something new to wear. Also, being able to see people in person, rather than just on Zoom all the time, will be nice,” Laurie said. “That face-to-face interaction, going for lunch, and really connecting with people again is exciting for me.”
2. Keep what serves you, and let go of what doesn’t
For many of us, we found peace in this time at home. Some dove into hobbies, arts and literature, while others focused on existing relationships with those we hold most dear. We learned how to slow down, find what brings us joy and get back to ourselves.
Bhupinder, a lawyer based in Toronto, found his zen over the last year and a half after being forced to stay home – specifically on weekends – and says that many other millennials have, too. Even as restrictions relax for offices and social settings, he doesn’t plan on giving up this found-again outlook anytime soon.
“Covid has taken me back to who I am. Especially being in the city as a young professional in the age of social media,” Bhupinder said. “It’s so easy to get caught up in the fluff. For me, it’s been about learning once again what’s important to me.”
This has materialized for him by reading, spending more time with family, and even planning a trip when it’s safe for them to do so.
3. Don’t want to return to the office? Bet on yourself and do whatever you want
Self-discovery was a massive theme for those working and spending most of their time at home. And for many folks, the location of that home changed drastically. Remote work opened up the floodgates of relocation, and people who wanted to get out of the city finally had that option.
Enter nature, a solid internet connection (hopefully), and the rise of the freelancer. For Justin, a freelance content creator and strategist, he found everything he was looking for up north and all the inspiration he needed. After spending the last ten years living and working in Toronto, he realized the old school working mentality wasn’t working for him.
“Just because things were done a certain way for so many years doesn’t mean they always have to be that way,” Justin said. “We’re at this moment in time, where individuals have the power to redefine what work should look like for them – whether that’s inside or outside of an office.”
4. Stay focused on the big picture
Pre-Covid, too many of us admittedly were trying to accomplish too much. The week often felt like one big checklist, and we were simply going through the motions to fit it all in.
Katrina, an events coordinator based in Toronto, has been dealing with a slightly lighter schedule and reduced capacity at events. At the height of the pandemic, she was able to go back to school and complete her project management designation.
“I’ve definitely learned to slow down and I’m not trying not to pack so much into one day,” Katrina said. “Naturally, due to the industry I’m in, I currently have more time to work on bigger projects and stay focused on the big picture.”
5. Communicate your needs to your employer – you have the power
Communication for some was hard throughout the pandemic. Seeing people as little tiny boxes on a screen and communication via Slack emojis is not for everyone. Can online communication ever truly live up to communicating in person?
Tasnim, a digital marketer in Toronto, doesn’t think so. After her last company decided to go 100% remote, she decided to move to a company offering a hybrid approach.
“I just couldn’t see myself going fully remote or fully back in office,” Tas said. “Take baby steps and ask for those flexibilities you need at work. Ease into things slowly – employers are definitely open to giving employees more flexibility right now.”
6. Leave stressing about your appearance in 2020
Many of us are looking forward to getting out of our pyjamas and are shedding our Covid cuts, with relaxed restrictions on shopping, salons and personal care. As exciting as this is, some of us don’t want to return to exactly how it was before the pandemic.
Anne, a content specialist in Toronto, has a few reservations about heading back to the office – specifically about the pressure she used to put on herself to look “presentable” all the time.
“I remember certain days I would be late for work because I couldn’t find an outfit that looked good, I remember thinking I looked bad in everything,” Anne said. “I definitely have a better relationship with myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally, and I want to leave that old stress in 2020.”
7. Take the hy(brid) road
As the work culture continues to shift and a new normal comes into play, so does the approach taken from leadership.
Ahmed, co-founder and CEO of Carte Blanche Studio, says the creative agency is adopting a new schedule with two days a week at home to serve employee needs better.
“We’ll work from home Tuesdays and Thursdays as we transition to a new work culture,” Ahmed said. “I think this creates a more stress-free environment and allows for even better productivity.”
8. Be gentle with yourself
Finally, it’s OK to be a little nervous! Change can be nerve-wracking and stressful, and we’ve all had our fair share of it throughout the pandemic. However you’re feeling this fall – we can assure you that you’re not alone.
Danielle, a yoga and meditation retreat organizer in Toronto, has a few tips to help alleviate any stress you may be feeling. She recommends meditating, journaling your thoughts and feelings, and talking to your loved ones to help you feel supported and understood. She also recommends acts of self-care that may seem obvious but are all too easy to lose in the shuffle, such as sleeping enough, eating well, and exercising.
“Be gentle and don’t put too much pressure on yourself,” Danielle said. “Going back to the office can be a wonderful thing and just might bring more joy to your life and help you feel more fulfilled, productive and provide a new sense of motivation.”
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