How to Plan to Return to the Office

If you are one of the many people who are being called back to the office - either full time or in some new hybrid environment, you need to be intentional about your return. There are no shortage of articles on how to do this, but I believe one element is most important:

Transferring what you learned in the pandemic to the office.

What I mean is that you were forced to learn new skills and be creative. The old ways didn't work anymore, so you developed new ways. Some of those new ways are awesome, so don't lose them. The worst thing that could happen is that you go back to the office and do things exactly as you did before you left the office. It's been 18 months in some cases - you've grown.

For example, one skill I've definitely gotten better at is focusing on one specific task. I realized that at home I had so many distractions - work and beyond work. The emails, calls, texts, chores, etc were so much that I was just bouncing around and never accomplishing anything. I learned to turn off notifications and put things away that distract me. I found that 30-45 minutes of focused time was much better then being constantly available. It meant I had to develop discipline, the will to say no to immediate responses, and a way to track thoughts that popped in my mind. But it has made me more effective in what I do.

If I were going back to the office, I would try to incorporate that focus more. Maybe blocking off time in my calendar for uninterrupted work. Or finding someplace where I could focus without interruptions.

The point is: don't waste what you've learned about yourself during the pandemic. Find a way to use that growth when you return to the office.