This past year has left many employees working from home. They’ve juggled more roles than they can count, and many are looking forward to returning to the office after almost a year away. Many workplaces will look significantly different due to COVID-19 related changes. You may not be enjoying quite as many chats at the watercooler or those break room potlucks for a little while longer, but here are some things you should know before you go back.
If you haven’t updated your license, your credentials, or gotten your background checks updated for work, don’t wait. Many employers are asking their staff to get everything up-to-date before they come back to the office. It’s a good time to ensure you have everything you need to do your job. Being home also gives you a little more time in the day to get these things done, so don’t delay.
Some companies are asking their staff to get their shots before they return to in-person work. While many are not mandating it, it’s important to understand your company policies, your rights and your responsibility to speak up if you don’t plan to receive one. Employees with disabilities are protected by the American’s with Disabilities Act and those with religious objections are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There may be incentives to receive it, but know that there are options if you cannot receive one. If you do plan to get one, make sure you receive all the doses before you return to work.
Masks or No Masks
Mask policies are typically left up to employers and the city or state where they reside. Some companies allow for staff to be maskless at their own desk or in a closed office if no one is nearby. Others require masks to be worn at all times. It’s best to ask about your new company policies around masks before you go in. You don’t want to be caught without what you need to do your job.
Adjust Your Gas Budget
If you haven’t commuted in over a year, your budget is about to take a big hit. The rising gas prices, plus waiting in traffic means that you’ll need to adjust your gas budget once again. If you’re working for the same company where you worked pre-COVID, you’ll be able to look at previous budgets to get a starting point. Once you start commuting again, it’s good to know you’ll have the budget for it. for how much you’ll need to start commuting once again.
Get a Haircut
A lot of people got a little relaxed working from home this past year. Not only did they wear business on the top and pajamas on the bottom, they also let their hair grow out like a weed. It didn’t help that in many places barbers and hair salons are just now re-opening. Going back to work is like going back to school after summer. Get a new haircut. You’ll look and feel much better with an updated style. Plus, when you head into those important meetings, you’ll look the part once again.
Ensure Your Wardrobe Fits Properly
It’s time to try on your work clothes. Whether you gained or lost weight working at home, make sure what you have still fits. It may be time to pick up a few new pieces if nothing fits quite right. The best work clothes are the ones that help you look and feel your best. Take some time before your office opens to ensure you have everything you need to wear to the office.
Remote Work Policies
Since it’s clear everyone was able to work from home, it’s time to find out what the new policies are especially if you worked in a role that was not remote pre-COVID. Some companies are offering remote work policies that give employees a couple of days a week in the office and a couple outside the office. Ask your HR rep or hiring manager what the new expectations are for remote work. Some companies are even offering staff members the option to stay fully remote if they want it.
Bringing Food From Home
Many policies are changing at workplaces around the nation. Some places will no longer allow staff to bring in food from home because of the risk of COVID-19. Others will allow it, but will no longer offer fridge space for storage. While it may seem like a small thing, check with your workplace about their policies around meals and if cold storage or reheating will still be available. Additionally, they may limit community events to keep people spread apart.
Even though many people have received their vaccines, employers may still require social distancing of their employees and customers. This means that at least 6 feet will need to be between you at all times when you interact with others. These social distancing guidelines are designed to keep everyone safe while still returning to work.
Some employers only offer shared workspaces. These workspaces will need to be cleaned more frequently than before and with different supplies to ensure they are sanitized and ready to go for the next person. If you share a workspace, ask about what cleaning supplies are available to you to help keep your area clean and sanitized. Your employer may have specific processes to ensure everyone does it the same way.
Getting Up Earlier
Before you head back to work, start training yourself to get up earlier again. You may have gotten used to rolling out of bed and heading to the computer in 10 minutes. But with a morning commute, preparing your lunch, and getting dressed for the office, you’ll need more time. The best way to prepare yourself is to start practicing again before you go back.
Things have changed a lot in the past year, but many places have opened back up and others are just now allowing their remote workers to come back to the office. These are just some of the most important things to consider if you’re one of the people heading back in.