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April 12, 2023 - 8 minutes

Transitioning from Remote to Office Work and Vice Versa 

Whether you’re heading back to the office or beginning remote work, you probably have lots of questions. 

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Almost everyone was faced with the possibility of remote work at some point during and after the pandemic and lots of companies have realized that their remote employees have the same or even improved productivity and efficiency, allowing remote work to continue post-pandemic. But that change didn’t come without challenges; this transition is a major one for lots of people and no matter if you’re transitioning from an office job to a remote one, a remote job to an office role, or have a hybrid role, there’s a lot to keep in mind. 

Transitioning from an Office Job to a Remote Job 

Whether it was your choice or not, the switch from commuting to the office everyday to working from home is a big one. Gone are the days of waking up early, packing a lunch, and working face-to-face with co-workers. And while you may be basking in your newfound free time and freedom, this transition can be quite difficult for many. We’ve outlined some of the main things to keep in mind as you embark on this new journey:

Anticipate and prevent loneliness 

If you’ve been working in the corporate world for years surrounded by your colleagues, team lunch breaks, or happy hours, you may experience quite the culture shock when you’re suddenly spending all day alone at home working, especially if you live alone or your partner is still working in the office. It may feel like a welcome breath of fresh air at the beginning, but reality is remote work can be incredibly lonely for many. 

If you find that remote work is getting to you and you’re missing human interaction, check out some of these tips: 

  • Try coworking spaces: many cities offer coworking spaces where you can rent out a desk or working space while enjoying a fresh cup of coffee. These are quite popular among remote workers, meaning you can benefit from being around others. 

  • Consider hybrid working: even if your role was marketed as fully remote, you may still have the option of an office. If you have the option of going to the office, consider incorporating that into your schedule one or two days a week to help you get that much-needed human interaction. 

  • Think about a workation: workations are growing in popularity and there’s never been a better time to explore the world while still receiving that monthly paycheck.

  • Schedule calls/events with colleagues: just because you’re remote doesn’t mean you can’t chat and bond with your colleagues; consider adding weekly catch ups or scheduled coffee breaks to your calendar. 

Ask questions 

Remote work means you have a lot of freedom and there’s no boss peeking over your shoulder or nosy colleagues watching you play Sudoku to clear your mind. But this also means that your company might have assurance measures in place to ensure you are actually doing your job. To make sure you’re acting within company guidelines, ask the following: 

  • Do I have to sign in everyday or track my exact hours? 

  • Do we have check-in meetings? 

  • Can I take lunch/breaks whenever or should I let the team know? 

  • If I’m sick, how do I communicate that to the team? 

  • When should we schedule a call to discuss something or just communicate via email/chat?

Your team and boss want you to succeed and should happily answer these questions to help you adjust to your newfound independence. 

Set firm boundaries between your personal and professional lives 

Working from home means you may be tempted to check your email on weekends or work through your lunch break; it also means you might decide to do some laundry or cook an extensive meal during work hours. At home, it’s quite easy for work and pleasure to blend together and setting firm boundaries is key: 

  • Create a workspace dedicated exclusively to work: focusing will be easier if you find a spot that is purely for work; this will help you both ignore personal responsibilities while at home and not be tempted to work after hours or on weekends. 

  • Be firm with your partner/kids/roommates: remember that remote work doesn’t mean that you’re just hanging out at home; you have the same responsibility to focus and get work done that you did at the office. In addition to setting boundaries with your physical working space, make sure you talk to those you live with so that they know you’re busy during working hours. 

  • Figure out what works best for you: especially if remote work is new for you, it might take a bit to get settled and be as efficient as you were in the office. Try new things and be patient with yourself; remote work can be challenging and finding your secret to success will take a few trial and errors. 

Be communicative 

In some workplaces, remote work is a privilege and you need to show your boss and team that you’re just as responsible and efficient from home; make sure you frequently check in with your team, provide updates, and make sure everyone is on the same page. 

Advantages of remote work

Remote work is quite attractive for lots of people and some people are actually only accepting remote roles. And there’s a reason for that: 

  • You’ll gain lots of time back (and sleep!) from the time saved commuting 

  • You’ll have more autonomy and independence

  • You’ll have a better work-life balance

  • You can use your newly-gained time to go on a walk at lunch, get ahead on household chores, or simply rest 

  • You can work from a variety of places

Transitioning from a Remote Job to an Office Job 

Were you one of the lucky ones that’s worked remotely long before the pandemic? Or did you transition to remote work during the pandemic and now are expected back in the office? No matter your reasoning, going from remote to office work is quite the challenge and we’ve got what you need to make this change successful. 

Take time to get prepared 

If possible, ask your boss if your reintroduction to the office can be gradual so that you’re able to fully adjust before heading in five days a week. If you’re used to waking up at 8:59 am and working in sweatpants, the transition to work clothes and a long commute might seem impossible. Consider these tips: 

  • Make sure you have the right wardrobe: it may seem a little obvious, but you’ll be surprised by how hard it is to find five outfits a week when you’re used to working in your pajamas. Treat yourself if you lack appropriate clothes for your office and plan in advance--it’ll make those early mornings easier! 

  • Be realistic: if you’ve been doing a 7:30 am workout class while remote working or fitting in a quick yoga session on your lunch break, consider that these may not be realistic options anymore. And, generally speaking, you will be more tired from commuting/being in the office all day and not be able to maintain the same social/exercise schedule as before. 

  • Meal plan: gone are the days of throwing something together at lunchtime or grabbing a snack when you’re hungry. Eating out or buying coffee everyday can add up quickly; ensure you have sufficient food (which will fuel you during the day!) packed and planned out so you’re prepared. 

Ask questions 

If you haven’t worked in an office in a while (or ever, if you entered the workforce during the pandemic), it may seem like a giant mystery. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your boss and HR department are there to help you and asking questions to get a better idea of what’s expected of you will help the transition be even easier. Don’t know what questions to ask? Try these out: 

  • Is there a dress code? If so, what is it? 

  • Are there set hours or are flexible hours an option? 

  • Is there a kitchen/coffee machine in the office? 

  • What kind of office space will I have? 

These are completely normal questions that your team will be expecting, so go ahead and use these answers to make your adjustment process as smooth as possible.

Go slow and be patient with yourself 

This won’t be easy at first and you’ll probably be more tired than you were while you were working remotely. And that’s completely normal! In-office work requires lots of energy, human interaction, and time; be patient with yourself as you get used to it and make sure you’re getting lots of rest at home and on weekends. 

Make it easier for yourself 

There’s no reason to make this transition harder than it already is. Did you always have your favorite coffee in the morning? Or listen to a great podcast during lunch? You can still incorporate what you loved about remote working into your in-office life and, in fact, it will help facilitate the transition. 

Focus on the positives

It can be easy to fall into negative thoughts and frustration about returning to the office, especially if you’re happy working remotely, but try to focus on the positives: you can have more human interaction, it can be easier to work with your colleagues if you’re in the same place, especially if you work on a team, and you can improve your productivity and efficiency. 

Maintaining a positive mindset will help you see the bright side of this change.

Advantages of in-office work

Believe it or not, some people actually prefer in-office work due to the following reasons: 

  • You’ll feel like part of the team

  • You’ll be more efficient and productive 

  • You’ll learn new concepts or programs easier 

  • You’ll work better with team members and monitor project progress thoroughly 

  • You’ll draw clear lines between your personal and professional lives 

No matter what your setup is, transitions are completely normal parts of the professional world and we have a secret: this probably won’t be your last one. As you continue to grow professionally, you will switch jobs or roles and be faced with new changes and challenges; keep this guide in mind and do everything you can to prepare yourself for the unexpected and tackle anything thrown your way. 

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