Getting back to the office after more than a year of remote work is going to be a major reality check for us all. This is an opportunity to connect and live life once again, but we should also be prepared to overcome some challenges along the way.
We spoke with business leaders about the big transition back to the office, and they offered some tips to establish healthy new routines.
Trying the Hybrid Office
The next few months will be remembered as a time exploration and discovery for what will be known as the hybrid office. Remote work blended with frequent office visits – that’s the new normal we can all expect.
“The rulebook has yet to be written regarding the hybrid office. We all throw the expression around, but what does it really mean? Now is the time to put those policies on paper, with a pen, and map out the true meaning of the hybrid office for your organization.” – Luke Hotchin, Co-Founder of Kenzzi
“To ease your transition into the office, see if you can take up a hybrid schedule for a while. This would mean working some days in your home office, while going into the traditional office for the rest of the week. In this way, you can become accustomed to the change, but not all at once.” – Jared Zabaldo, Founder of USAMM
“We’re seeing high-powered CEOs in the tech space predicting a hybrid office setup for more than 80% of workers, maybe more. That’s a number with serious implications for the future of the workspace. Our best bet is to be adaptable and ready to experiment with different approaches to this problem. Nothing is set in stone anymore.” – Dylan Trussell, CMO of Culprit Underwear
“Remember to enjoy the freedom of working from anywhere and the flexibility to adapt your work to your life. It’s far more effective than strict rules and requirements.” – Alex Meunch, Product Designer at Doist
“The past year has thrown all of us for a loop, but there are many ways to make the transition easier. One way is to find ways to collaborate with other employees in the office as soon as you return. This can help ease the transition and also allow you to do what you couldn’t do when working remotely: enjoy the face-to-face interaction of others. Collaborative projects are also a great way to keep the team productive.” – Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition at MitoQ
“The worst thing is forcing employees into situations where they don’t want to be. Give them the opportunity to create a game plan that works for them and the rest of the team, rather than set up rigid rules for them to follow.” – James Sun, Founder of BeautyTap
Routines to Relax and Energize
Work is tough enough already. Add the pressure of a major lifestyle shift and things can get stressful. Creating a routine to help you out along the way will be vital to your sanity and success!
“When heading back to the office, it may be difficult at first not to take the dog for that midday walk anymore. However, you can find new routines that will help you be productive and engage with your team in-person again. Look forward to things like business lunches, and encourage safe face-to-face meetings when possible. You’ll be back in the swing of things before you know it.” – Travis Killian, Owner and CEO of Everlasting Comfort
“To ease back into the office, try to take some time in the morning to meditate. This will help center yourself and make the rest of the day go much smoother. It should only take five to ten minutes in the morning for meditation.” – Lauren Picasso, CEO of Cure Hydration
“To ease back into the office, try to take some time to just have a cup of coffee in the morning and chill out before work. Relaxation is essential prior to returning to the office, as the transition will cause some added stress into your routine. Try to find some individual time for yourself to relax and prepare yourself for the day.” – Craig Carter, CEO of Jack Mason
“If it helped you when working from home, why not apply those same principles to the office? Taking breaks, snacks, making tea or coffee, whatever. Everyone has become more flexible and adaptable after this past year, so ease back into the routine with the comforts that help you get through the day.” – Kelli Lane, CMO of Genexa
“Support your mental health by going outside for breaks throughout the day. Your social skills might be a little rusty so try initiating conversations with your coworkers to brush up on those social skills. It may help to bring a keepsake from home for your desk to help you cope and add comfort.” – Michael Scanlon, CMO and Co-Founder of Roo Skincare
“In order to be able to ease back into the office, I think people should start preparing days, maybe even more than a week, before returning to the office. Setting your alarm to wake up earlier and give yourself plenty of time to get to the office is a great place to start. The most important thing is to take all the time you need to make the adjustment and realize that now is a time to look forward and rethink some things.” – Dennis Hegstad, Co-Founder of LiveRecover
“If possible, maintain the routine you had while you were working remotely, such as morning walks and household tasks. Bring a picture frame or plant from your house to add a sense of familiarity and comfort to your workspace. Working remotely required constant communication between team members to keep the business running smoothly. Continuing that level of transparency will help maintain trust, prevent miscommunication, and promote productivity.” – Rym Selmi, Founder of MiiRO
Accommodating Policies for All
A few simple adjustments to company policy can help employees feel acknowledged and supported on their way back to the workplace. That small effort goes a long way.
“If you’re a supervisor or manager, send out memos or meet one-on-one with people on your team to check in more frequently at first. Everyone is going through this time with unique perspectives and challenges, so the least you can do is show some empathy.” – Brandon Monaghan, Co-Founder of Miracle Brand
“The future we envision allows for virtual workspaces that create limitless social and economic opportunities. Barriers like physical location and time zones won’t apply. It will take time to get there, but it’s a goal we think is worth pursuing..” – Andrew Bosworth, VP Facebook Reality Labs
“We have all of our employee’s safety at the forefront of our plans for returning to work. We plan to stay relatively distanced in-office and have plenty of sanitizing stations so each employee feels absolutely safe and comfortable while working. We also have plans to figure out a PPE strategy for employees. Beyond physical safety, we’re considering the mental toll of returning to work as well. We are really trying to push transparency and openness.” – William Schumacher, CEO of Uprising Food
“We’re aware that some of our staff may feel a little anxious about getting back to socializing in the office environment, so we allow for lags in the conversation. By letting our more team members decide when they want to come to the table with their ideas, they feel more comfortable about being back in the office and more apt to participate in the group.” – Tyler Faux, Founder and CEO of Supergreat
Staying Focused and Productive
Despite all the excitement and anxiety about returning to the office, we’ve still got to put in the work. Here’s how to stay productive and focused on the tasks in front of you.
“Say what you will about remote work, but it did have a positive impact on employee productivity when you run the numbers – everyone agrees. If you see production start to slip when workers come back to the office, recognize that’s part of the transition process and give them time to get adjusted once again.” – Ashwin Sokke, Co-Founder of WOW Skin Science
“In the creative industry, easing back into the office can look different, depending on the day. One day, you could be on set, and the next, you could be helping with editing and brainstorming for new ideas for a client. The main thing to transition into is the variation of new routines, or lack thereof, since every day is different. Plan your week so you know exactly what to expect and where you need to be ahead of time.” – Cody Iverson, CEO and Co-Founder of VisCap Media
“Many of us struggle with distractions when working from home, but those distractions won’t necessarily disappear when we return to the real office environment. You’ve still got to be strict with yourself and keep a high standard of conduct to stay focused.” – Aidan Cole, Co-Founder of Nailboo
“Don’t forget that we’re here to work, and you’ve got to channel that positive energy into getting things done. Everyone feels cooped up and excited to get back, but don’t take your eye off the main goal of building your brand and leveling up.” – Lucas Nudel, CEO of Pride Palace
Nobody – not even the top brass at major companies – is exactly sure what the future holds for the office, or the professional environment in general.
Like all aspects of business culture, we’ll see new trails blazed in real time, with best practices written along the way. Hopefully these insights will help you form a strategy in the short term.
Be ready for anything, and prepare to pivot at any time. There’s no telling what may happen next!