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When Andrew Marder returned to the office after telecommuting for three years, he found more hurdles than he was expecting.
At home, Marder, who was recently featured in a Wall Street Journal article about remote employees returning to offices, was able to balance parenting and writing responsibilities easily. But once he rejoined an office environment, he frequently missed his deadlines and found himself unable to manage his time in the office. It wasn’t that Marder was a bad employee; it was that the differences between working at home and working in a traditional office environment were more drastic than he remembered.
His experience isn’t uncommon. As major companies like Best Buy, Reddit, and Bank of America are limiting employees’ remote work arrangements, many people are being offered a tough choice: find a new job or rejoin the office grind. Team members who have chosen the latter have found that the offices they left are very different than the ones they’ve come back to, and it can be frustrating to re-learn how to operate within a company’s workplace.
So, how does one successfully transition from working at home to inside an office? Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Set weekly meetings with your manager.
If you’re concerned about staying on top of your responsibilities, set time with your manager every week to review your current progress on a micro and macro level. You’ll get to touch base about all of the projects you’re working on, and having a scheduled time to take a break from the day-to-day to refocus is always a good idea. It’s an easy way to be proactive, and your manager will thank you for it.
2. Track your responsibilities.
Once you’re back in the office, you’ll eventually find out what time management system works best for you. Until then – take note all of your tasks, meetings and other responsibilities in one document so you know what you’re supposed to do when. That way, the next time you’re not sure what you should be doing, you’ll have a great resource to refer to.
3. Limit distractions.
Working by yourself in a private space is one thing, but working in an open-floor office plan is something else altogether. Get rid of as many distractions as you can — put your phone on silent, wear noise-cancelling headphones, etc. — so you can focus on what you need to. Also, remember that it’s okay to ask for space from co-workers when you need it. If you’re in the middle of an important project and somebody swings by just to say hello, it’s not rude to ask them to come back when you’re less occupied.
4. Take advantage of your commute.
One of the most difficult parts of returning to the office? The trips there and back. It can feel like you’re wasting hours of your day driving to the office, so find ways to make that time worthwhile. Whether you choose to listen to a business-focused podcast, use audio resources to learn a language or call an old co-worker you haven’t spoken with in a while — there are plenty of ways you can utilize your time. You might even find yourself looking forward to the “me time” you get during your commute.
5. Get to know your co-workers.
Virtual and in-person relationships require different kinds of upkeep. Now that you’re seeing your co-workers every day (instead of just sending GIFs through Slack), get to know them a little better. Have lunch with them, or see if they’d like to get coffee during their afternoon slump. Not only will this foster a better working relationship, but you may find a friend that makes your time in the office more worthwhile.
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