So You Used to Work at Home: How to Return to the Office

Companies like Yahoo! and HP are either canceling or severely curtailing their work-at-home policies, which leaves some former WAHers struggling to adapt to the office environment.


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If you’re trying to get used to working in the physical office — or trying to remember what you used to do, before you became a remote worker in the first place — these tips can help.

1. Prepare.

List-makers, rejoice: now is a perfect time to put your favorite hobby into action. Specifically, you’ll want to keep track of everything you’ll need to do differently or outsource once you’re away from the house all day.

The more time you have to plan, the better. Start the second you hear you’re going to be transitioning back to the office, and keep a diary of all the non-work-related things you do every day. This should include obvious things like child care and errands, but also the smaller things you do, like putting in a load of laundry or starting dinner early. Once you know what you’re actually doing, it’ll be easier to figure out how to plan around office hours.

2. Get up earlier than you need to.

Maybe you’re that rare work-at-home type who gets up every morning, does yoga, takes a shower, and puts on clothing appropriate to the outside world. If so, have you considered writing a self-help book, instead of going back to work? We know some people who would read it. Ahem.

But seriously, one of the main perks of working at home is that you don’t have to get office-ready before you start working. Your new routine will take some getting used to, and the first few mornings of being a commuter will be a lot easier if you’re not pressed for time.

3. Hold this thought in your head at all times: I am not at home.

You’ll never realize how much you talk to yourself (or sing, or cuss) until you transition from working at home to working in an office again. Again, it’ll take some time to form new, work-appropriate habits. Eventually, it will become second nature not to multitask on your laptop during meetings or eat salad with your hands in front of your co-workers. Until then, try to remember that you have an audience.

There are pluses and minuses to both working at home and working in the office. Once you adapt to being in the same building as your colleagues during the day, you’ll be better able to get the most out of the experience.

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