We were supposed to back into the office last Monday, it got cancelled the Friday before at the last minute because there was another change and now we aren’t going back until September 7th. However, I got all prepped to go back in (“back” as if I have ever been there before); so I thought I would write down what I did to prepare to move into the office after only working at my new-ish workplace remotely.
I am more than slightly nervous, it feels extra weird to be going in having started this job remotely. It is also setting off alarm bells that I know almost nothing about the office culture of my workplace. I worked some vaccine clinics with a couple colleagues over the past couple weeks and I badgered one of them a bit about some office culture stuff, how people dress, etc. but there are some parts of being in an office that you have to experience. Like, is it a super quiet office that is going to amplify my quiet, shy, introverted tendencies, or will it be a fun, chatty, office where I get to make the best work friend I’ve ever had (Hi Sarah! I miss you and no one will ever replace you promise)? I don’t know and I don’t know how to ask someone that question.
So here is what I did to prepare (and then it sat in my backpack for a week until I unpacked it finally on Friday):
- My manager told me to go in to set up my computer and desk, which will be great so that I don’t have to worry about that whenever I do eventually do get to go in, I didn’t end up doing this because I was away at vaccine clinics in the middle of the week and then Friday morning we got the memo that we weren’t moving in. But knowing exactly where I am going will be super reassuring when we get to move in. If you have the chance to go in and get set up beforehand, especially if you are starting at a new office. I think that being able to go in, walk around a bit, figure out where my desk is, where the bathroom is, the office kitchen. That will make me feel a lot more comfortable and relieve what I’m sure is going to feel exactly like first day of work jitters.
- Outfit prep. I really hope that someday how I look will not be a big source of anxiety for me, but I also know that dressing appropriately for the occasion makes me feel a lot more comfortable. I don’t mind being a touch overdressed, but I never want to be so casual or so formal that I am significantly different from everyone else. At least not at first, give me a few months and then I will start only dressing for myself, but until I have my footing a bit I will be very concerned about my appearance and will be paying very close attention to what others are wearing. I’m doing laundry and ironing over the weekend so that I can have full selection and I’m going to select my outfits for Monday-Friday on Sunday night. I hope that this will also help alleviate some of the stress the in the mornings because rolling from bed to desk is no longer an option.
- Planning my morning schedule. I would like to walk to work when it’s not raining/storming/snowing/miserably cold. I am going to do the walk to the office building and time it out and make sure to factor it in, along with all the normal morning stuff. I really want to make sure that I am eating breakfast, showering, doing my hair and makeup, having a proper adult routine. Something that I haven’t always had over the past few years, mostly because I stay up too late and have overworked myself in the past and so struggle to wake up in the morning.
- Meal planning. This is pretty normal; even through the pandemic I have sat down before I go grocery shopping and plan what I am going to make. In fact, probably even more so during the pandemic because I didn’t want to go to the grocery store every other day like I had been in the before times. I don’t like meal prepping stuff always tastes weird by the 3rd day and unless I’m in the wrong industry, the work week has 5 days. I do like to plan my meals though and make dinners that make several servings so that I don’t have to think about what to make for dinner every day or cook it every day. And then I can take some of the servings for lunches. However, with going back into the office, that does mean you have to consider the reheat smells of a food. No more fish for lunch.
- Bring my creature comforts. There is a lot that I think we used to have in an office to help make us more comfortable, express a bit of our personality. We spend so much time at work, we deserve to be comfortable. So over the weekend I’m buying a new work cardigan because my old one got purged in my winter Marie Kondoing (it also wasn’t my favourite, I couldn’t really wrap up in it and it shed all over my clothes), office shoes, water bottle, tea mug, snacks, and cute little stationary bits for my desk. I also have an office blanket that I’ve kept set aside for the past 2.5 years since the last time I worked in an office but I won’t bring that until I know how cold the office AC is. I try to limit my extra to an appropriate level.
- Any documents or manuals that you had to take home to do your job from home. If you have to go back to the office, get that ish out of your house. Separation of church and state (right USA, right?!?).
I also need to figure out a new chores schedule. I have been doing my chores over my lunch hour, and while I could technically come home and eat lunch at home, but especially if I am walking, I would get home with just enough time to eat and not enough time to make lunch, eat it, wash dishes, do my ironing, etc. and I am really going to miss my evening routine that will probably have to be slightly sacrificed to not have cat hair tumbleweeds floating around my apartment.
I’m both relieved and sad that moving in got post-poned. I was really looking forward to getting to meet some of my colleagues in person and having the framework of an institution to make friends. However, I am also glad that I don’t have to change my routine, start properly getting ready in the morning, stop doing chores on my lunch etc. And I’m looking forward to taking advantage of work-from-home over the summer to go to Thunder Bay, and if ever allowed, Winnipeg, Steinbach, Gimli, and Winnipeg Beach and not having to train myself out of office chair dancing and singing out loud whenever the music moves me.
Are you going back into the office? If you have already, especially as a pandemic hire, do you have any tips?