The office return draws closer…

With the easing of restrictions underway across the UK and a change in our current working life, how can we ensure we succeed in the transition back to working within an office?

Along with many others I am approaching a year of working from home and feel settled into this routine. After the first lockdown – following our business plan for a return to office-based working last year – some of our offices managed a brief, staggered return to their respective working spaces, but it was short lived.

Being based in our Edinburgh office, and therefore a couple of weeks behind the rest of the country, we didn’t have the opportunity to get back behind our desks before restrictions were tightened again. Following that there was a degree of general acceptance – with cases rising pre-holiday season and the inevitability of another lockdown post-Christmas – that working from the office wasn’t going to happen any time soon. The new year subsequently arrived and it’s only in the last few weeks that things have started to move in a more positive direction.

As we meander into spring there is a tangible air of gentle optimism and a feeling that change will happen, and for some that may be daunting. This is particularly true for those with a commute involved, leaving behind that space in the lounge, kitchen or spare bedroom that has become the norm, getting back to dropping the kids off at school, not having to schedule in maths as part of your working day, catching the bus, leaving our pets – but it’s OK. Whatever your life situation is, it will require a period of readjustment.

It’s all a bit nerve wracking, isn’t it? The expectation of how it’s going to be; will there still be social distancing in place? How many of us can work together? How will internal or external meetings work? Will we cope with the hubbub of office noise? Can we eat at our desk? Will there be ‘one in one out’ systems in place. Who knows! The truth is we really can’t know until it happens.

But let’s think of it from a slightly different perspective – how exciting! Seeing colleagues you’ve known and worked beside for years for the first time in months, seeing new team members in the flesh for the first time, the buzz, the realisation that people have legs! Not to mention quick and direct face to face interaction with no awkward pauses, no lost snippets of conversation, or shaky pixelated screens and shouts of ‘you’re on mute!’. There will be tea breaks and walks for lunch, and maybe even pub visits and events! Does that not sound amazing?

Some of us will be facing a significant level of apprehension going back into the workplace, whereas others will be literally running back to their desks in relief – whatever camp you are in, it’s important that we all support each other.

Businesses all over the country will be adapting and planning their return to work strategies to ensure safe working environments and to safeguard the health and well-being of their workforce, whatever the guidelines might be; so we can all be reassured by that.

Could it be the perfect opportunity for businesses to rethink the working week? A week that brings the joy of working in an office with our colleagues – and the camaraderie and the creativity that brings – together with the flexibility and positive benefits of working from home? Will those people that find it too comfortable being at home flourish being amongst their colleagues, or will the people that have found it difficult switching off get the change they need to master a better work/ life balance?

Either way, it is important for us to have open conversations about how that switch can be successful and that will require a team effort.

Here are a few suggestions of things we can do to prepare ourselves.

If you are worried, please talk it through with someone; chat to your HR representative, a colleague, line manager or mentor about any worries you may have
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – take time to adapt
Structure your day – remember to take breaks
Be patient, be mindful and be kind – others might find it harder/ easier than you to adjust
Don’t be dismissive of people’s personal circumstances over the last year; appreciate everyone has had their own experience/ perspective during this time.

However challenging, we as an agency will once again come together and face any challenges the future brings head on. And we’ll bring some of that gumption and spirit from the last year into the office as a positive driver to push ourselves, engage with our colleagues, reach out to our clients and propel our business forward for the remainder of 2021 and beyond.

We’ve succeeded so far, so what’s stopping us?

If we can help with your media needs our teams are ready to help you, whether from the office or from the comfort of our homes!