Put your Work Pants Back on, One Leg at a Time (returning to the office after COVID-19)

By Lyndsey Karp

When an email titled “Phasing Plan for Returning to the Office,” hit my inbox, my head perked up- a light at the end of the tunnel! Similar emails are hitting inboxes everywhere as the country begins to (slowly) reopen its offices, and many employees look ahead to once again working out of the house. If you’re a little bit nervous about returning to office work, you’re not alone. It’s scary, after so many weeks in quarantine, to think about commuting to the office, working in close quarters, and having to *gulp* put on real pants again. We’re in this together. In this 3-part blog series, we will offer tips for employees, managers, and Bridge administrators as we transition back to the office and put our business pants back on, one leg at a time.

Working from home has its advantages: I woke up 30 minutes before my workday started (loving this short commute…to the other room), put on a sweatshirt (cozy is the new casual), and answered some emails on the couch while my dog cuddled close (my office is now dog friendly). It also has posed numerous challenges for those who are currently without daycare or are caring for elderly parents or sick loved ones. Quarantine has been a different experience for everyone, and returning to the office will continue to pose varying challenges. If your company is looking to reopen your office, here are some proactive things you can do as an employee to prepare:

If you received a similar email like I did about a plan to return to your office, read it. I know that emails can get lost in the shuffle, but this one is important. People in your office took time and care to create safety plans to return to work in compliance with local and federal policies. If ever there was a time to read every word of an office-wide email, this is it. 

Once you know your office’s plan, communicate how the plan affects you with your boss. Schedule a one-on-one meeting and outline what challenges you anticipate. Perhaps your return to the office needs to be delayed or, maybe the plan works fine for you. All of this information is important for your manager to know so they can make plans of their own and communicate up the chain if needed. 

Be responsible. It is clear that offices reopening will be a slow process and involve trial and error. Social distancing will remain in effect for the foreseeable future, and offices may need to re-arrange to provide safer working conditions. Do your part to make the transition easy and comfortable for everyone. I know you were a good office-mate before COVID-19, so continue being one now, in different ways. Before, you may have “forgotten” to return your office mate’s favorite, smooth writing pen. Now, you wouldn’t think of borrowing anyone else’s materials off of their desk, but if you did, you’d take extra care to sanitize it before returning it to its rightful owner.

Start the transition now. While you’re still at home, start transitioning to return to the office if you know that change is coming. For me, that means re-training myself to wake up with enough time for my real commute downtown and to stock up on masks so that I’m never caught without a clean and sanitary one. Whatever your preparation needs to be, start it early, so it’s less of a shock to your routine when your office doors reopen. 

About Bridge: Bridge is a learning and performance management platform that provides learning and growth opportunities for managers and employees. Go to getbridge.com to learn more about how Bridge makes holding successful 1:1’s a seamless experience for both employee and manager alike.

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