Video calls, impromptu dog walks, button-up shirts with pajama bottoms: these are just three little weird and wonderful snippets of what working at home during the pandemic had to offer employees. While some continue to argue that remote working has brought about improved work-life harmony, many still favor being back in the office for its social benefits.

After going so long without stepping foot in the office and connecting with colleagues in real life, it’s only expected that employees across the globe feel apprehensive about returning to a physical workspace. If the big return to the office is on the horizon for you, now’s the time to start preparing for the transition. Here’s how to ensure your professional changeover back to the “old normal” goes as smoothly as possible.

Do Keep your Well-being in Check

As you’ll know all too well, masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes have now become an integral part of our lives. Your employer should provide you with these, however, if not, make sure to bring your own to minimize the risk of transmission.

Before your return, try your best to eat well, engage in exercise, and stay well-rested by keeping on top of a consistent sleeping schedule. Another useful tip is identifying your stress triggers. After all, you’ll want to return to the office feeling refreshed rather than unmotivated.

Do Ask Others to Respect your Space

Social distancing may not be a legal requirement anymore. However, it’s not unusual to still feel wary of others around you. Once you return to the office, let your colleagues know that you’re still practicing physical distancing.

If you can, you may want to move your chair slightly away from crowded areas, request desk dividers, or reorganize your working environment so that you can still chat and collaborate with other team members safely.

Do Check Office Vaping Rules

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many of us reevaluating our daily habits, with quitting smoking being a top priority for some. Researchers may not fully understand the long-term effects of vaping as an alternative as of yet. However, it’s clear that e-cigarettes are not as detrimental to our health as smoking. In fact, one PHE study concluded that vaping devices are at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes.

Seeing as though e-cigarette use in public has now become more socially acceptable, it’s easy to assume that all businesses are comfortable with employees vaping in the office. Online vape store explains that the UK currently has no explicit laws that ban the use of e-cigarettes in certain places. However, vaping etiquette is a real practice that should be followed, especially in working environments.

If you’ve recently taken up vaping or landed a new job, it’s in your and your colleague’s best interests to ask about the company’s e-cig rules. Speaking openly about this will not only let your considerate personality shine, but it’ll also keep others in your workplace safe.

There are still ongoing studies looking into the severity of second-hand vaping and the risks of passing COVID-19 to others. For now, it seems that vaping is a far more reasonable alternative to smoking and one which presents a significantly lower risk to others.

Do Rethink your Commute

Pre-covid, many of us followed the same commute day-in and day-out. Why not try out a new route like thousands of other employees have already done? If you’re lucky enough to cycle or even walk to the office, try to bear these options in mind. You may be surprised how much you could save on petrol, not to mention how much your well-being will benefit from a commute involving exercise.

If you’re someone who dreads the rush-hour commute by car, there are luckily many ways to make your journey more enjoyable. Try listening to an audiobook or a podcast that covers your interests and helps set your intentions up for the day.

Don’t Bring Your Home Attire to the Office

Unless your job doesn’t have a dress code, rocking up to the office in too-casual-clothing will earn you recognition for all the wrong reasons. Giving your wardrobe a makeover or experimenting with outfits can come in handy here! While wearing professional attire isn’t guaranteed to help you work harder, dressing for duty will certainly help you appear and feel more confident.

Don’t Forget the Habits you Learned while Working Remotely

Going back to the office doesn’t have to mean abandoning the way you used to work at home. Have a think about what you learned while working remotely, such as how you organized your time and kept your momentum going.

Maybe you were able to more effectively showcase your leadership skills, hone in on your talents, or come up with more creative ideas than ever before? Interestingly, a survey from TalkTalk in September 2020 found that over 50% of employees reported a rise in productivity since working at home.

Don’t Avoid Asking for Help

Due to social isolation from COVID-19, “Back to Office Anxiety” has become a real phenomenon experienced by many employees. Your mental health matters too – if you’re feeling anxious about returning back to the office, don’t hesitate to voice your concerns to your line manager. You may be able to negotiate to work in the office once a week and gradually make a return once you’re comfortable doing so.

Don’t Neglect your Work-life Balance

Once you’ve settled back into the hustle and bustle of busy office life, you may find yourself wanting to stay at your desk past 5 pm to complete a nagging task. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has become a common occurrence for employees working at home, with reports that UK workers have increased their working week by almost 25%.

If you can, try to leave this habit behind and focus on your priorities waiting for you at homes, such as your family, pets, and hobbies. Of course, proving yourself may pay off in the long run. However, for the sake of your well-being, it’s often best to detach yourself and keep to tomorrow’s deadline instead.

Author bio:

Jennifer Williams is a Staffordshire-based copywriter with notable expertise in the travel, fitness, and well-being sectors. While studying English and Journalism at Coventry University, she worked as a freelance copywriter for a variety of different industries and niches.