scary RTO

How to Prep to Return to Office… even if you’re terrified

The office sits on a hill, its windows open and drafty. The formerly majestic plants in the window are now gray, drooping - or even dead. The ghosts of your 2019 projects still haunt the garbage bins, waiting to be released the minute the door opens. The Return to Office is coming for you…and there is no escape! 

But You Can Prepare, Brave Creative

We’ve talked a bit about how to make a hybrid work model successful. We’ve also mentioned how certain employers really want everyone to RTO (return to office), regardless of how the employees feel. It can sound callous but, at the end of the day, the company is going to do what’s best for the company—including not closing down offices. And, if you love your job, you might be on board with their decisions. RTO, though, seems to be a sticking point for many workers. If you find yourself in this complex situation, we want to help quell your anxieties. Even though you can’t control the fact that your employer is making it mandatory that you need to return to the office, that doesn’t mean you have a total lack of control over your own health and safety.

1. Evaluate What Makes You Feel Safe

You are in control of the level of information and preparedness you give yourself. Do research around how many COVID cases there are in your area, if that’s a genuine worry for you. Are they going up or down? How are hospitalizations? Also look into your method of transportation—do you want to drive every day or are you committed to mass transit? Are you comfortable carpooling again? Will it fluctuate depending on how you feel? Knowing what’s going on in your immediate environment can help you evaluate your own risk and whether or not you show up wearing an KN95 all day, bring your own lunch, keep away from the communal kitchen and so on. Also evaluate what your company is doing to keep you safe during RTO, including how they are approaching cultural and social situations these days. It can be great intel for how you’ll proceed at the office… or decide to look elsewhere for remote work.

2. Set Your Own Parameters

Once you look into your environment and get a sense of what your office will probably feel like, you can set your own boundaries around what feels best for you, both in your commute and within your office. You can wear a mask all day every day if that’s how you feel the safest. Maybe you only want to wear one in close proximity to others (like in meetings and in the kitchen). Will you ask people to keep their communication virtual instead of coming to your desk? Will you set up a mini fan in your cubicle to keep air flowing in a kinda-cramped office space? Take the time to make your cubicle a welcoming place, too. Plants can help with air quality while making you happy. Bright, inspiring artwork and pictures you love should also make the return to office with you, too. 

3. Be Firm and Stay True to You

The scariest part for some around RTO is the fear that you could lose your job. This is a totally valid fear—especially when you consider how rigid and insistent some employers are around full-time RTO. How do we stay in control when we feel forced to do something we don’t exactly align on? We remain firm in our boundaries, communicate those boundaries, and, if we’re being disrespected, we make alternate plans that ensure our safety. An example of being disrespected is a coworker mocking someone else for wearing a mask all the time. Another example could be a manager passing over people for promotions in reaction to their need to work from home for a day or so to care for a relative. If people at the company outright disregard your needs for safety and refuse to work with you, it’s a red flag. The next step would be to figure out what you need—and don’t need—from your next employer. Network, save money, and leave for another position when you feel ready.

TLDR; Stay in control of your health and safety needs, communicate them with the company, and you’ll have an easier time adjusting to RTO life without fear. 

Whether you’re looking for remote work, hybrid or full-time office work, we have so many jobs available to suit your ideal working life. 

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