How to stay productive when you’re back in the office

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6:00am, Mon 19 Jul 2021
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For many of us, working from home has been a huge adjustment, with very little distinction between downtime and the normal working day.

Of course, some of us have managed a constant workflow with lunch and screen breaks, but others may have felt chained to their kitchen desk – and can’t wait to get back into a routine.

And while many companies are taking a hybrid approach, with employees having the option to go into the office one or two days a week, it’s still going to feel strange.

So, how can you make the transition from WFH to the office easy? Here are a few expert tips…

Make the most of the commute

Physiotherapist and founder of The Physio Company, Amanda Harris MSCP, says: “Whilst people have been working from home, many have not have been moving as much as they would do in the office. This extra movement will help improve overall fitness, mobility and focus.

“The commute to work can help with the separation between home and work, which can also help people to ‘switch on’ and improve productivity once in the office.”

Chat to colleagues, but don’t let them sway your concentration

“Try not to be distracted by others. Some people are going to love being back in the office, surrounded by people all day, while others rather enjoyed the peace and quiet of home,” says Harris.

“Consciously make an effort to be friendly, but also be aware there’s a job to be done. Make yourself aware of your own productivity and if you see it begin to slip when compared to working from home, try to work out why this is, so you can remedy it.”

Make a to-do list

“Never underestimate the scientific marvel that is the Post-It note!” says Ky Teasdale, executive coach, Ky Coaching Services. “In the very digital world in which we work, bringing that kinaesthetic and tactile element to our desks can help us feel more in control of the tasks before us.

“Whether that’s ordering them by priority, adding a colour-coding system, increasing communication, or simple reminders that you’re great at what you do – this approach can be a productivity breakthrough. If what you’ve been doing whilst working from home for the past sixteen months has been effective – stick to it.”

Take regular short breaks

Phil Drinkwater from Phil Drinkwater Business Coaching says: “Office workers will have got used to more flexible working while they’ve been at home. For extroverts, it might be the day they’ve been waiting for. For introverts, though, it might be a challenge and they’ll need time to adjust.

“For those finding it tough, managers might allow staff to take regular short breaks, possibly an hour focused working and then a short break to go for a quick walk, or staring out of a window for a few minutes.”

Swap your assignments around

“Staff could also reorganise their day, to take on the more mentally challenging tasks in the morning, leaving the more admin tasks for the afternoon when they’re flagging. Or, schedule tasks for each half hour of their day, to create goals to achieve,” says Drinkwater.

“If the job allows it, they could also listen to some calming music to drown out the increased amount of noise around them. Outside of work itself, a good sleep routine is always essential for a productive day, no matter where you are.

“It might take some time, but we will get back into the habits that we used to have, including being in the office.”

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