It’s official – you just read the company email stating that employees are going to start returning to work in person, with a few exceptions.
Should one of those exceptions, be you?
You’ve found the perfect fuzzy socks or slippers, or maybe you’re a flip flop kind of person? Perfected the dressing from the neck up (short notice Zoom call anyone) and mastered the quick commute to your new Work from Home location. Maybe you even took some time to ‘deck out’ your office, chose furniture, wallpaper, and décor for your cozy Work Remotely corner.
Now, it’s time to make a decision (if you’ve been given a choice) – about going back to the office.
Here are some things to consider before you decide to stay in your work from home bubble.
Do you want to work from home permanently?
Have you considered a hybrid schedule where you go into the office a day or two per week?
If you stay at home…
1. Will you be the ONLY employee to do so? If most of the staff goes back into the office, you may begin to feel left out of the daily professional and social circles. Does this matter to you? Are you part of a team that needs you to be present – or may resent you for not being there? And if you are the ONLY one at home, might you be the first to be let go if budget cuts come along?
How to navigate this: Consider going into the office when you know there is going to be a highly visible or important meeting and to collaborate with colleagues on team projects. Every meeting may not be delivered via Zoom. Talk to your team members about your decision to stay home and how you will continue to contribute.
2. Will you have the same promotion opportunities and recognition as everyone else? You might get overlooked (literally and figuratively) for promotions, career enhancing projects, and recognition. If most of the office (or your team) is visible during the daily grind - and you are not – you become less visible and may struggle not to become invisible.
How to navigate this: Keep in consistent contact with supervisors and team members. You may have to overcommunicate until everyone has a greater comfort level with your work ethic, performance, and deliverables. Document everything that you accomplish in a Google doc or spiral binder (old school always works) – this is only for your reference. Include bullet points about how you have improved, capture any feedback or kudos you receive. Send your accomplishments to your Manager at an agreed upon benchmark time.
3. Will you miss interacting with coworkers, inside jokes, and office banter? Are you a social person who craves interaction and conversation? If you live alone and work alone, you may need more connection. Or maybe you have a house full of people and need to get away for a little while.
How to navigate this: Keep in contact with colleagues, team members, and supervisors. Ask to be invited for after hour cocktails, parties, work lunches, or in office get-togethers.
There are many positives to working from home: No commute, extra expenses for wardrobe, gas, or transport costs, less financial output for daily lunches. Daycare may be easier to manage (or not). You may be able to work when and where you feel most productive (any fellow night owls out there)?
If you decide to stay at home, here are a few tips to help navigate the challenges.
* Set a routine and a schedule that you are able to commit to each day.
* Make sure you have a separate space that is just for work.
* Develop a written agreement and schedule with your Manager to garner feedback, ask questions, or review projects. Ask for a check in time once a week or a few times a month.
* If you are a leader and manage employees make sure to create standard operating procedures for them to communicate and turn in work.
* Consider having an ‘inside colleague’ to touch base with and talk through ideas or challenges with.
*Ask for written feedback from your Supervisor so you know areas where you may need to improve and can capture positive feedback to reference when evaluation time comes. Companies are moving away from conducting ‘formal’ evaluations, so this could be imperative to getting a raise or promotion in the future.
* Don’t stay sedentary - get up and walk around periodically or consider a standing desk option. Get outside during the day (maybe during your lunch to grab some Vitamin D) and provide a change of scenery.
* Make sure you have a plan in place in case one of kids, roommate, or significant other gets quarantined while you are working from home.
* If you haven’t already, decorate your ‘office’ so that it is somewhere you enjoy going every day, working and that enables you to be your most productive.
Working remotely has gained more acceptance than ever before. The stigma has been lifted!
There are even some stats that say remote workers are often more productive.