With Labor Day 2022, companies are trying asking employees to begin commuting back to the work site. According to Fortune, this is an ongoing cultural change, especially among senior management. The employees already know things have changed and won’t be the same as it was before.
All the focus has been on what happens after you arrive at work and neglects the personal side, which is also impacted.
I started going into the office once a week, and there’s been the suggestion that next year, the company might require three days a week. But the once a week is already providing training in what to expect.
Waking up Early
Any commute means we have to wake up earlier so we can get on the road and battle traffic. Even setting your alarm clock back thirty minutes can make a big difference on how you feel when you wake up.
You might look at things you do in the morning and see if you can eliminate any, or do them later.
I always found it challenging because I had to eat breakfast so early. Preparing anything takes time—anything you can consume quickly probably won’t hold you until lunch. Oatmeal was particularly problematic. Contrary to all the advertising, oatmeal left me starving by 9:00, and then I would look for sugary food. I was already starting out my day with an energy management problem.
Over the COVID years, I started using the Fab 4 Smoothies ideas. I like this because I can make it the night before, and it’s portable. It also fills me until lunch time so I’m not looking for junk food at 9:00. When I telework my one day, I take the smoothie with me and drink it after I arrive at work.
So think about things you can try that will help you out when you get up. No one wants to sacrifice sleep!
Getting Out the Door
I was surprised at the impact of the simple task of leaving the home for work. I did it for many years. But I didn’t understand how stressful and chaotic it was because it had always been that way.
You’re thinking, “Did I forget anything?” or simply about getting there on time as a default. Add things like winter coats, weather, traffic…yeah, it adds up.
You can do some things to help alleviate the stress, though it doesn’t make all of it go away. Like setting out your clothes the night before so you’re not making a decision in chaos or preparing your lunch. I put my computer by the door and make sure my work cell phone are the bag. But since forgetting any of those is requires a return home, I check for the cell phone once I’m in my car.
It’s just something to expect and prepare for.
If you’re in a big city, you have to deal with rush hour traffic, road construction, and the weather.
In Washington, DC, the area I live, it has some of the longest commutes in the country, according to NPR. When I used to live in Dale City, it was easily ninety minutes to drive into the District. My commute is now about thirty minutes each way, but that’s still time that won’t be available to me.
Start by thinking about your schedule, since you’ll have to make adjustments.
One of the things that struck me after COVID-19 shut everything down was how long making meals actually takes. I hadn’t quite understood that because I often treated meals as firefighting.
Lunch would be in the office. Unless you want to spend a fortune in the on-site cafeteria, that means prep time for the meal. You might have to buy a container, as I did. I do a salad, which is easy to drop into a large container. Add tuna or salmon pouches, apple cider shots, and Marconi olive oil pouches, and it’s meal. I did have to remember to pack a fork though, since I wasn’t sure I could get one onsite.
Dinner also becomes a challenge because of the commuting time. You’ll probably be tired. Then you come in and maybe have to make dinner. It’s easy to want to head down to the local restaurant, but that adds extra cost.
Start with doing minor prep work on the weekend. You don’t have to batch cook for the entire week unless it works for you. But cutting up all the vegetables doesn’t take long and saves a lot of time during the rest of the week. I invested in a knife skills class and am glad I did. It helped me get faster at preparing the vegetables.
In the Office
We’ve all been working at home for two years. The office is a big change because it’s a different environment. I remember when the senior manager moved me from one cube farm down to another. The first one had been relatively quiet. The one I went to was hub of activity. My cubicle was near the copy machine and a major intersection where everyone went. I had to get used to the noise level.
The transition from the home office to the work office will probably be somewhat similar.
There’s no once and done with preparing to go to work. Each day can present new challenges. All you can do is be aware that there will be challenges and do what you can to limit the impact of them.
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