How to Transition from Working Remotely Back to the Office & What You Need to Know Before Going Back

Sharon Mak Career Tips, HR & Recruiting Advice, Management Best Practices, Workplace Facts Leave a Comment

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that working from home is a viable option for some businesses. And while researchers suggest that more businesses may give employees remote-work options post-pandemic, chances are you will eventually be heading back to your bricks and mortar workplace, if you haven’t already. For all front-line and essential workers who have not had the opportunity to work from home, one thing is for sure – we thank you. Although it may be some time before things return to normal, we look forward to the day we can thank all of you in person.

For those of you heading back into the office, you may not be looking forward to it after a sustained period of working from home, but here are some tips to help smooth the transition, including what you need to know before going back:


1) Prepare yourself physically and mentally

When it comes time to return to the office, envision how long your commute will be, and what changes you will need to make to your daily routine. Start by getting your internal body clock back to a pre-working-from-home schedule. If you are aiming to go to sleep earlier, try slowly scaling back your bedtime until you are at the desired hour.

2) Make a list of things you look forward to at the office

Focus on the advantages of being in the office – you will likely have ready access to colleagues, the proper printing equipment, and office supplies. Maybe it is the office camaraderie, the collaboration with teammates, or the structure of office life? Or perhaps, the doughnuts and other snacks that would magically appear in the lunchroom.

3) Know your rights and the rights of your employer

The thought of returning to work during an unprecedented time may be daunting. To return to work safely, and get peace of mind, ask your employer to detail what safety measures have been put in place, including what personal protective equipment is available to you. If necessary, get any additional supplies you will need to do your job safely.

According to employment lawyers in this CBC article, employees are required to return to work as long as the employer has met the safety requirements and precautions that provincial health authorities have put in place. If you feel unsafe or have concerns about going back, you can decide not to return. However, if an employee chooses not to go back to work in an environment that has been deemed safe, the employer is well within their rights to consider that action as job abandonment or resignation.


1) Limit distractions

In the office, you might not have kids or pets interrupting you every five minutes, but there is a new environment to re-adjust to. Working in an open office environment can be distracting in its own way, filled with office discussions, ringing phones, and keyboard and mouse clicks. If you don’t have an actual office door you can close, try to remove as many distractions as you can — put your cellphone on silent, limit social media usage and invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones so you can focus on what you need to.

2) Make the most of your commute

Commuting to the office after working from home can feel like you’re wasting hours of your day. Instead of looking at it as wasted time, use this time to be productive. Listen to a podcast, an audiobook, or a music playlist – there are plenty of ways you can make this time worthwhile.

During this time of change and uncertainty, it is important to remember that the coronavirus pandemic is not over, and each passing day brings new developments. As we adjust to this new normal, let’s not forget we are in this together, and, as a community, we will support each other to find new ways of living and new ways of working while protecting our front line and essential workers.

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