Legal Practice

Easing Back to the Office

I know the idea of going back to the office strikes fear in a lot of us but it is likely many will be easing back into a hybrid or a new routine where you are back in the office full time (I don’t wish this on you, unless you really want it!).

Seeing as I’ve been back since July (yes, five days a week!), I wanted to share some things that made the transition easier for me. Because there is a shift in terms of time, attention, and energy that comes with being away from home 9-5 and it’s nice to be prepared for it.

First, working from home for me, which I think is true for so many, helped me see just how important it was for my place to be livable and to be a source of calmness and happiness. Whereas before, I hadn’t worried about what certain areas looked like, during WFH I took time to revamp my space so that it truly felt like a haven. And in turn, working in a space that brought comfort and happiness really shifted my mood. I had sun streaming in my windows, I had a comfy couch to respond to emails, I could grab a snack whenever I wanted–I mean, you know the perks of WFH! And so leaving that to a much more confined space was not a super happy transition.

Here is what helped me make the most of it:

  1. Review my old routine and figure out what works and what doesn’t any more. For me, this mostly centered around how I nourish myself. In BC times (before covid), I used to just go to work without any idea of what I would have for breakfast or lunch. Not only was that crazy expensive, but it also resulted in me eating not so great most of the days. I decided to shift that as much as I could and instead I bring my own coffee and lunch on most days. During WFH, I mastered my style of coffee exactly as I like it. So while I still pick up starbucks, when I bring coffee from home I don’t see it as depriving myself from “good” coffee but rather providing myself with something I really enjoy. Think of some habit you’ve picked up during WFH that can still brought to the office.
  2. Review your wardrobe. Eek! I know. During the pandemic our dress code shifted from business attire to business casual, but as we all got used to being back the suit jacket, ties, and heels slowly made a return. Maybe your office will have shifted into a more casual atmosphere for the long-haul. Or maybe you’ve decided to retire articles of clothing that just don’t suit you anymore (like, maybe you realized life is too short for pantyhose). Either way, it’s helpful to review your work clothes, make sure they still fit (!), and assess what works for you and what doesn’t. Do you need to buy a few new pieces so that you’re comfortable but appropriate at work?
  3. Making mornings as easy as possible. Again, BC, I would crash from being so tired and wake up with just enough time to get ready and head out the door. It wasn’t working and I was exhausted. I still have a memory of the day I crawled into bed so ecstatic that the next day I would get to work from home for the first time and how that meant I would be well-rested. We’re not going back to that! I have a morning routine down now that lets me have some moments of quiet, work on outside projects, and get ready for work. I prep ahead of time by making my lunch the evening before and having a routine for cleaning, etc that lets me really ease into the morning rather than feeling tired and rushed.

For me, my hesitation in going back was the fact that before WFH things were so hectic. I would have meetings from one place to another, work late into the night, barely eat right, all to get up and do it again. And while the law and adjacent work is always stressful and busy, I do feel a shift. More than anything the shift is individual in what we can and can’t afford to do with our time, health, and career. So, if you’re going back to work prep for it as much as you can. Give yourself time to adjust, but it is also (almost 2022) and the reality of what work is, is endless. If you feel your situation hasn’t caught up with your reality then do yourself the favor and look for something that will suit you better!

Either way, good luck! It’s not as bad as it seems, but going in prepared will always make for a better situation.