Signs You Are Struggling With Going Back To Working In Person at the Office

As the world gets back to a new normal after countless months of pandemic induced change many working professionals are finding it difficult in adjusting back to the way things used to be. In particular going into the office on a regular basis while trying to balance personal/life commitments has left many with a sense of despondence and a desire to get off their in-person low flex career hamster wheel.

No one knows if this will be temporary or a permanent change being called the Great Resignation or Reevaluation, but if you can identify with more than a few of the following return to in-person working warning signs it may be time for you to do some deeper introspection of what you want to get out of your job.

  • You used to work 50 to 60+ hrs. weeks. Now that you are back in the office you feel that the same work, assignment or project is pointless and you are finding it hard to feel like you doing something of value. This is despite getting paid more now than you used to 18 months ago!
  • After a couple of days or weeks in the office you started calling in sick or need to work from home because you just cannot stand the office environment or the corporate routines that once defined the majority of your waking hours and professional sense of purpose.
  • Even though your work offers a hybrid schedule you start resenting the days you have to go into the office. You find yourselves making excuses to stay home, including using getting COVID as a reason to justify working from home (or calling in sick).
  • You suddenly find your co-workers more annoying or less funny than you remember, including at all those virtual zoom team building calls! You wonder what you saw in your team or colleagues prior to the pandemic (or maybe you are the problem now).
  • You are regularly looking for a new job and one of your main filters is to do with allowing “remote working” or “flex working” schedule.
  • You get up in the morning and thought of grooming yourself is exhausting and you spend several minutes in your wardrobe trying to figure out what to wear – without having to iron anything. You miss simply rolling out of bed for that 9am call in your tracksuit or athleisure wear.
  • You get more angry when you hear company’s flex working policies, 4-day work weeks or other consulting sounding jargon which all just mean working the same hours in a shorter duration! This likely will result in you being exhausted on your “flex” days off.

Some argue that the working should simply be cut to 32 hour weeks across the board. After all most workers (especially white collar ones) have shown you could do the same work at home in 32 hrs that used to take 40+ hrs when you were in the office

  • You are already planning and looking forward to a stay-cation (vacation at home), despite having just returned to the office on a regular basis.
  • Your back and/or butt hurt seem to hurt more after work because you feel your office furniture is not as comfortable as your couch or home office comfy chair. You use this to reinforce that working from home (in a different job) is the better option for you
  • Every little noise or overheard office conversation is suddenly distracting. You miss the quiet or familiar noises of your home office and this cacophony of in-person office sounds can feel intrusive.
  • For parents this is even harder as their kids are at school and your home is empty and a sanctuary for you to be footloose and fancy free. Yet you are having to go back to the office for the majority of the week.
  • Your constantly miss having access to your personal laptop or iPad that used to sit next to your work laptop. Now that you are in the office you only have your smartphone, which seems to lose battery life much faster in the office. With holiday shopping in full swing this makes you sad!
  • You are constantly rushing to or late for in-person meetings and commuting seems to feel a lot longer than it used to (welcome back road rage). You day dream of what you would do if another pandemic ever hit again that forced remote working – even though you quickly add you hope that it doesn’t happen of course.
  • You see other friends and family working from home and it makes you feel jealous and angry that their employer is better, despite no evidence to suggest this is the case.
  • You are disengaged and have felt in rut from more than a few weeks. As a this HBR article said you could be stuck in a career lull and the above are just symptoms of a bigger issue. Especially since many workers have now gotten a taste of what flexible work could like and enjoy less managerial surveillance, micromanagement and meetings to plan meetings. 

Remember as we all get back to the new normal, it will take time to readjust and in some cases it may just be time for a change. The pandemic has affected all of us in different ways, so give it some time but also realize that what was normal before COVID may not longer be your new normal.

Do you have any more signs to add to the above list?

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