As a natural extrovert, working from home for the past two years had its challenges. Suddenly there were no catch ups over coffee with colleagues, impromptu lunches with teammates, or happy hours to celebrate the launch of a completed project. I even had to finally hook up my printer! This was a huge adjustment for all of us, especially those who were used to coming into the office five days a week. I even missed my commute, which I used to read, listen to a podcast, or just decompress.
Now after two years of remote work being our norm, we are coming back into the office. Seeing the faces of colleagues that I have not seen in person since March 2020 or catching up on what’s happened outside of the office (parenthood! marriages! moving!), or running into newer employees I have not even had the pleasure of meeting yet has brought back that office energy that I have missed. The smiles, laughter, and in-person interactions just cannot be duplicated over video calls. And, of course, I cannot wait for more events from the “before times” to make a comeback one day, like our summer and holiday parties.
And lucky for us, our leadership team at Vitality has done a lot of work to help ease us back into office life. To name a few: part-time in-office flexibility, personalized Yeti cups for each employee (I have heard it keeps water very cold, but all I can attest to is that it keeps my never-ending flow of coffee very hot), beautiful balloon arches in Vitality colors, and catered lunches and snacks. These may seem like simple things to offer, but these all take a lot of planning and organizing, and all those involved must carve times out of their already busy days to ensure these are executed properly. And I must say, I have enjoyed each of these.
While I know that I am happy to be back in the office (at least part time), I also understand that others may be a bit more hesitant. Fortunately, Vitality has also done a lot to make us feel safe in our return: employees coming back to the office are fully vaccinated, testing is available, hand sanitizing stations and cleaning wipes are placed around the office, signage reminding people to social distance is clearly posted in several areas, and colored lanyards show each employee’s comfortability level with physical proximity. All of the above are readily available for us to use.
All transitions are hard. Suddenly transitioning to working remotely two years ago, and now transitioning back to the office life both require a lot of mental, physical, and emotional work for us all, myself included. But I’m optimistic that being back in the office will be good for all of us both professionally and personally, and I am excited to catch up with those coworkers I haven’t seen yet! I hope to see you at the coffee machine soon.
Emily is the Program Manager for North American Insurance Markets for Vitality Group. She has lived in Chicago for about 12 years, and in her free time enjoys trying new restaurants with her husband, reading, or going on long walks with her Dalmatian-mix dog.