As one of the many remote workers recently transitioning back to the office, I have been finding myself lacking enthusiasm at the thought of going back full-time. Yes, I am excited to see my team again, brainstorm in person, and start resuming a more "normal" routine. However, I also can't help think that I am going to seriously miss some of the freedoms that working from home over the past few months have afforded.
That's why I am making a conscious effort to integrate the lessons I've learned during the past few months into my new office mindset. From productivity hacks to putting a greater value on my own time, here are four lessons from my work-from-home (WFH) experience that I am taking with me into the office.
Take actual breaks.
When it comes to actually taking breaks in the office, I, like so many leaders, often find any and every excuse to squeeze in another small task instead of taking an actual breather. Whether I am quickly organizing my thoughts for my next meeting or finally getting to that mounting pile of admin work, I rarely allow myself the time to pause during work hours.
Yet, during the past few months, my day was punctuated with short breaks every few hours. Naturally, being at home afforded me the opportunity to take my dog outside twice a day, make a latte, or do a quick check-in with a loved one here and there. Not only did this boost my overall mental health, it also strengthened my ability to concentrate and think critically.
Skip the in-person meeting for a conference call.
After finally getting my team and clients used to the idea of routine Zoom meetings, it dawned on me how much time I actually spend transiting to head offices and conference centers when a quick phone call or video conference could have easily sufficed.
Of course, this isn't a new thought--if I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase "that could have been an email," I would be a very rich woman. However, spending the past few months without the luxury of in-person meetings have made me rethink how I value my time, as well as the ways in which I can practically use technology to my and my company's benefit.
Make time to connect.
When our WFH order first started, many of our internal systems had to adapt quickly to an all-online model. This included how we cultivate our company culture--from daily banters (now moved onto Slack channels) to team outings and volunteering efforts (now done via video conferencing and online donations).
With our daily routines changed, how my employees needed support also dramatically changed. That's why daily or bi-weekly meetings to discuss how our leadership team can best serve our employees made all the difference in easing the transition, and will be essential when we move back into the physical office.
Make wellness essential at work.
On a typical day, wellness is usually reserved for after my 9-to-5. However, while working from home, it was easier than ever to implement wellness habits into my actual work day--whether that was doing a face mask during phone meetings or pausing to make a delicious lunch from scratch.
While everyone's preferred form of wellness looks different, having the space to build a few practices into my work day allowed my brain to slow down, regain focus, and all-around made me a better leader. There's a reason why airlines tell you to put your mask on before others; in order to best lead your team, you must take your own mental well-being seriously.