It’s happening – more and more people are returning to the office. Some, such as frontline healthcare workers, always went into their workplace even during the worst days of COVID-19. But for those who mostly work via computer, the pandemic was a chance to work away from the office and avoid the spread of coronavirus.
However, some are likely to continue to work from home regardless of whether people return to the office. For example, some companies are encouraging work from home because it might save money on office space, while some employees have asked for – and received – permission to work at home most or all of the time.
If you’re among the work-from-home group, you might worry about how you will deal with the changing work dynamic as hybrid or full-time in-office schedules begin. Here are some tips:
Be organized and productive
There is a misconception that working from home can negatively affect your productivity. You want to make sure that no one can say that about your work! To be sure, plan to:
- Organize your day in such a way that all of your work gets done on time and meets expectations
- Be early to all meetings and prepare well enough to contribute to all of them. You could also ask to be the note taker, which will show everyone that you were paying attention
- Take the lead on some projects. This could show that you can collaborate with multiple people
Be a presence in meetings
You might feel awkward if you’re the only remote worker in a meeting that primarily includes in-office employees. You can address that problem head-on by making several important points during each meeting, which will help establish your expertise even if you’re not there in person.
You can also offer to make presentations, especially during internal meetings, to show that your location doesn’t limit your ability to work with the team.
The worst thing you could do is to be silent during all meetings and shut off your camera. Yes, Zoom fatigue can be difficult at times, but make sure you engage! You already may be at a disadvantage if you’re not there in person, so asking people to project your picture on a screen during the meeting and speaking up when needed will make it seem like you’re as present as anyone else.
Participate in get-togethers
Unless you’re far away from the office, it’s ideal to make occasional visits to the office, such as for important meetings or social get-togethers. Although it might take some time out of your busy schedule, it’s worth it to see people face-to-face.
If no in-person meetings are possible, you could continue one of the pandemic’s new traditions – the virtual happy hour. If a few other people in your same WFH situation might be the ideal group to start. You could also invite a few in-office participants as meetings continue, or make it a hybrid event from Day 1.
Act like you’re at work
Even though you’re in the privacy of your own home, it’s not all private – people will likely see what you’re wearing during a video meeting and your workplace backdrop can provide a positive or negative impression.
That’s why you’ll want to:
- Dress professionally, especially for meetings external to your organization and with higher-ups in your company. You don’t want to make it look like you just woke up or went to the beach.
- Have a professional setting in your work area, so that if you’re on a video meeting people aren’t looking at dirty dishes, an unmade bed or a messy bookcase in the background.
- Be responsive to emails, calls and other communications, or else people – especially those in the office – will get frustrated. You’re not helping yourself if you take hours to get back to someone because you took a long midday break to go grocery shopping.
- Have the best technology possible, from the computer you get from your employer to the wi-fi set up in your home. Choppy communications on a Zoom call can frustrate the people you work with and make it much harder to collaborate.
While it might not be as easy working from home when people start returning to the office, you’ll find that you can show your colleagues that you are as valuable and productive as those who are working in the office with some preparation and hard work.