You’ve just graduated, sent off your CVs, and been for your interviews. Finally, you’ve landed your dream job and you’re all set to join the world of work.
However, faster than you can say ‘#adulting’ an unprecedented viral pandemic happens and working from home (WFH) becomes the norm.
Two years later (to present day), many of us have yet to step foot into our offices, or have had interrupted periods of working in office then work from home (WFH) due to safe management measures.
Of course, there have been some awesome perks such as skipping the daily squeeze on the MRT and getting that blissful extra hour of sleep in the morning.
Despite this, being unable to have proper face time with bosses, teammates and colleagues in other departments has meant that we’ve lost out on enjoying being part of a work culture.
Good news, covid-19 situation in Singapore has since improved with further easing of the SMM starting from 29 March onwards. Up to 75% of workers are allowed to be back in office and WFH no longer being the default.
Here are some tips you can take note of when navigating an office environment.
5 tips for succeeding in the office
1) Form relationships with your colleagues and bosses
By now, you’re probably just as familiar with your teammates’ Zoom backgrounds as you are with the way they respond on instant message platforms.
After all, video-conferencing platforms and online platforms have been the primary mode of communication for the past two years. Yet, as offices start filling up once again, it’s important to remember that people aren’t just 2D floating heads. Everyone has different working styles and verbal and physical cues can get lost when interacting face-to-face.
So, it’s important to get to know people better so that you can better understand how to work with your teammates and your bosses. It’s difficult to build good relationships using screens, so take full advantage of your new opportunity to have face-to-face interaction to get to know your colleagues better in order to work better as a team.
2) Don't be too hard on yourself
With restrictions on social gatherings and general fatigue surrounding the pandemic, the prospect of returning to work in a new and unfamiliar environment may seem overwhelming.
It’s perfectly normal to feel some anxiety over this, so cut yourself some slack. After all, you’ll be disconnected from your home comforts while having to interact with people that you may have never met face-to-face before.
Take time to focus on your work and cultivate a positive learning attitude. Just as importantly, take care of your mental health. Check out these mental health tips to manage your worries.
3) Set a routine that works for you
WFH mornings have pretty much been rolling out of bed and hoping that no one notices that you haven’t combed your hair on camera. Now that you need to be back in the office, however, there’s a whole set of things that you need to do.
Creating a set routine definitely pays off. The last thing you want is to turn up all flustered at the door because you missed the bus or couldn't get a Grab due to surging fares.
Research commute times to help navigate traffic using apps like Google Maps or Citymapper.
And it’s not just mornings too - it’s important to set boundaries that separate work from personal life. This includes going home on time and making sure you get enough rest. Finding space for exercise and eating well is just as vital to ensure that you’re in tip-top physical and mental condition to take on the challenges of office working.
4) Find out your HR policies
You don’t want to be the blur king who gets caught out because you didn’t adhere to company policy.
Knowing what your HR policies are will not only help you settle into your work culture much faster, but also, in these stricken times, knowing where your company stands on Covid-19 testing requirements, health and safety and insurance coverage will ensure you are able to get the right support you need if something happens.
5) Take the initiative to learn
Being proactive is the name of the game! Sure, you may have enjoyed your weekly Zoom bonding sessions, but nothing beats face-to-face interaction.
Take the golden opportunity to learn from your more experienced colleagues and teammates through collaborative or cross-department projects and build your professional knowledge together.
Office training and development programmes and other social activities such as work lunches are also excellent ways to keep your skills fresh especially after two years of working from home.
5 Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Working in an Office
1) Gossiping about colleagues
One great thing about going back to office is that you now have lunch buddies to enjoy your hour with. Having social chats over the midday meal is part and parcel of working life and a great way to build relationships with your colleagues.
Still, you don’t want to sever these relationships by partaking in toxic gossip. Keep your conversations positive and professional, even in an informal setting, and you’ll find that your office experience will be an enjoyable one.
2) Dressing inappropriately
Sartorialists, rejoice! As fun and comfortable as it may have been to participate in business meetings in a polo tee and army running shorts, it’s now time to ditch the casual attire for something a little more professional.
Check with your HR for your company dress code and dazzle your colleagues with your wide array of stylish - yet professional - work wear. Ladies, ditch the body-hugging miniskirts, midriff-baring tops and slippers for comfortable attire that flatter the frame and complete your look with covered flats or heels.
3) Talking about sensitive issues
So you’re now back in office, and you’re slowly starting to get to know your colleagues. Don’t jeopardise these burgeoning professional relationships by being kaypoh.
You don’t need to ask questions about sensitive issues such as people’s salaries or whether they’ve had Covid. Remember, you may have been through a lot during these past two years, but so have others.
Being caught up in office politics is also not advisable. Always be professional in your conversations. This goes double for sensitive information that you might come across or be told in confidence as well. There’s no need to broadcast this to others, even in whispered conversations.
Revealing sensitive or confidential information, even accidentally, may be grounds for disciplinary action and even termination. You don’t want that, especially at the start of your working journey!
4) Not integrating into the office culture
Every organisation has its own processes and ignoring these may mean a more difficult time for you. Observe how people communicate in face-to-face interactions, even during lunches or while they are greeting each other. Are there certain practices that you need to take note of?
When it comes to communicating with each other, are meetings or emails preferred? Knowing all this can make the difference between a smooth working journey and a rockier one.
5) Don’t make assumptions
Not sure what to do? Don’t blindly rush into things and assume that your colleagues and bosses are aware of your train of thought. Asking questions and seeking clarification is vital when it comes to integrating into your new environment.
Hot tip though — be polite and considerate when you ask your questions, and don't behave like people owe you anything.