If you’ve ever related to the film, Office Space, you need this guide. With lockdown lifting and offices opening up, many of us are making the long journey back to our second homes, often called pods. We’ve left the comfort of our homes and headed back to the welcoming arms of our team managers.
It can feel a little depressing, there’s no point denying it, looking around at your sterile white pod with its “World’s Best Boss” mug stolen from the kitchen, and no other amenities. So how should we prepare for going back? Maybe we should soften the blow with more than a mental bracing of one’s self. Read our guide to making your return to office as pleasant as possible.
Start your morning right
Starting the Monday off well starts with ending your Sunday well. No doubt you’ve altered your body clock to allow you to just roll out of bed and in front of your desk, leading to later nights, but with the time it will now take you to appear presentable and commute to work, you’ll have to get out of bed earlier, and therefore, into bed earlier the night before.
Avoid the midday nap even if you are desperate. You’re trying to stay alert until you don’t need to anymore. Avoid caffeine in the evening, and instead match that biscuit with some tea or at least decaf coffee. Keep the lights bright throughout the day, no curtains closed for a movie, and take a shower or relaxing bath an hour before bed. A warm shower will lower your blood pressure, making you feel relaxed as you get into bed.
The Blue Monday feeling is a myth, and that’s the attitude you should take with you throughout the day. Start by moving as soon as possible. A very quick light workout will wake you up and give you some endorphins to improve your mood. Exercise can increase your energy by 20% and won’t take much to work its wonders.
Don’t skip breakfast. You will want to kick start your metabolism and also load up on nutrients that will keep you going throughout the day. Wear your best outfit to keep your self-esteem up and get out the door.
Make your desk feel like a spa
It’s easy to ignore just how uncomfortable sitting at a desk can feel. It’s usually pushed to the side for the work at hand. Choosing the best office chair can go a long way to making you feel more comfortable, and, more importantly, help you avoid long term damage to your body. Without adequate support, your body can succumb to a lot of musculoskeletal disorders, like carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle strains and lower back injuries. Getting the right chair will make you feel like you are sitting on a cloud.
Unfortunately, working in the office means you can’t be throwing too much weight around, but if you have the permission, you can invest in an adjustable desk. Desks are made for people between 5ft 8 and 10. That is a small amount of the population. Having the desk too low or high will put you in an uncomfortable position that you will feel as time goes on.
If you can’t go replacing entire desks, there are options. If you are too tall for desks, finding there is a natural space between your arms and the surface when you are sitting with your feet flat on the ground, you can get a laptop riser. And if you find you feel your arms reaching miles for the surface of the desk, you can add a booster cushion to give you some extra support.
And then there are the little things that make a big difference. Get yourself a low maintenance plant for your desk. The mere presence of a plant will make you more present, lower your blood pressure, improve your mood, and lower noise levels.
If the temperature is bothering you, there are things you can do to make life more palatable. If you’re finding you can barely type with the cold, look into a hand warming mousepad, or lay a blanket on the desk. Keep your coffee at its best with a mug warmer. Get yourself a fan for the summer days, or to simply blast you if it gets too cozy and you need waking up. Get a small humidifier if you find it’s simply too hot to function. You can add some energizing essential oils, like peppermint or sweet orange to keep you awake on slow days.
Decorate for optimization
Even the strictest of office spaces allow for some personalization, so take advantage of the opportunity. Choose items that, as Marie Kondo would say, “spark joy”. Put that World’s Greatest Boss mug back where you found it and replace it with something that makes you happy. Upgrade to a portable mug that could show up in an Instagram pic and buy a water bottle that won’t need to remind you to stay hydrated, you’ll want to use it so often.
It doesn’t need to just look pretty to make you happy, but the best items will look pretty and make themselves useful. Head to the stationary aisle in Walmart but ignore everything grey, black, or white. You are looking for anything else that will make you smile. Copper document holders, gold letter trays, pastel paper clips, etc. Or take home everything you have already and grab a can of spray paint.
If you are the kind of person who collects notebooks too pretty to actually write in, lean into that and keep a planner that makes you smile to open it. If you have a wall near you, get yourself a wall grid panel to keep organized, but you can also decorate it with postcards and pictures that make you feel better. You can go for images that remind you what you’re working for. The beaches of Barcelona can remind you of your retirement plan, or a photo of your kids to remind you to put towards their college fund.