By Star Hughes-Gorup
I loved working from home during the pandemic. While I wore blouses and blazers for video calls, my ensemble was usually completed with sweatpants and fuzzy socks. I kept a plethora of snacks next to me, and my dog took naps in the corner of the room. I still love working from home. It’s comfortable. More comfortable than commuting into the office each day, not only from a physical standpoint, but also from a mental standpoint. Working from home, for me, is easy—and that’s how I know that I need to be in the office more regularly. With my team. Even if that means foregoing the sweatpants for professional work clothes. And yes, even heels!
Going to the office—at least in my role as a Senior Vice President & Director at a national tenant representation company—is not supposed to be comfortable, cozy or easy. I’m one of the few women in the commercial real estate industry, in an incredibly demanding career that I love. And I know that I’m my best self when I’m at the office. It’s where I feel accomplished, where I’m decisive, in charge, confident, successful, and it’s where I feel strong.
When I’m in the office, I tend to push myself to be better, achieve more and exceed my own expectations. One of my teammates always encourages me to “get uncomfortable,” because after all, your best life can often begin at the edge of your comfort zone. Even though I might enjoy having less demanding days working from home in a quiet room, I know I’m not being the best version of myself. That alone is reason enough to make that commute to the office—a space I really love being in, as it’s quite an impressive space, filled with even more impressive people.
As companies embrace policies that include more days in the office, some of you reading this may feel the same struggle to build back that muscle memory of going to work each day. To help you embrace (and enjoy!) the return to the office, I recommend the following tips:
1. Spruce up your work wardrobe.
Many of us invested in “athleisure wear” during the height of the pandemic. Some of us may have even swapped the sweatpants with jeggings for those high-pressure Zoom meetings! Since much of our dressier work wardrobes have collected dust for more than two years, now is a great time to invest in a few new pieces that you’ll be excited to wear to the office. The fashion industry is helping the transition to RTO by touting styles that are labeled “power casual” or “business comfort,” with softer fabrics, elasticized waistbands and a more casual feel.
2. Enjoy the simple pleasures of returning to the office.
Treat yourself to your favorite cup of coffee on the way to the office. Catch up with teammates about their weekend plans—you remember the colloquialism of “the water cooler conversation,” well, it’s back! Check out that new restaurant for lunch. Explore the neighborhood around your office to see what’s changed in the past two years. Try out a new yoga studio after work. Keep your eyes—and mind—open for small tweaks that you can make to maximize the in-office workday and add some fun variety to your routine!
3. Ditch the Zoom meetings.
We’ve all gotten very used to seeing each other as a tiny face on the computer screen, but I think we can all agree that with Zoom, Teams or Webex, something gets lost in translation. It’s much more personal (and fun!) when you can meet, share some laughs and discuss priorities together in the same room. Whenever possible, try to have in-person meetings or impromptu catch-ups instead of video conferences. It may take a little more effort, but there’s really no substitution for in-person connection.
4. Embrace getting uncomfortable.
We’ve all had a long break from being face-to-face with people, situations and demands. Accept that, at some point, you’ll run into a tense conversation or unexpected dilemma, or be asked to make a difficult decision in a split second. Take a deep breath and embrace the moment. When coming from a good place, know that you’re doing the right thing, not the easy thing, and that it WILL pay off in the long run. That is how we all grow, both personally and professionally!
5. Maximize your commute.
While working at home, you may have had cable news or classical music playing in the background–white noise to mimic the sounds of not-being-alone-all-day. Returning to your commute, however, gives you a chance to explore more ways to use your senses. Whether it’s listening to podcasts—there are thousands of them now on every subject imaginable—calling family and friends (hands-free of course!) or singing along with your pump-me-up playlist in the car, try to take advantage of your commute with something you didn’t normally do while working from home. It can be an enriching opportunity to expand your horizons and learn something new!
Instead of lamenting the loss of your work-from-home life, grab hold of your return-to-office life, and make it the exciting, fulfilling and succeeding adventure that it can be. From a new wardrobe to inspiring, in-person meetings to exploring the edges of that comfort zone, your return to the office can be the beginning of a better, more ambitious, more rewarding phase of your career.
Just get uncomfortable. And go for it!
Star Hughes-Gorup is executive vice president and director at Hughes Marino, a global corporate real estate advisory firm that exclusively represents tenants and buyers. Star is a key member of Hughes Marino’s brokerage team, where she specializes in tenant representation and building purchases. Star also makes frequent media appearances to speak on business issues from a millennial perspective, and regularly writes for Hughes Marino’s “Spaces We Love” blog. Contact Star at 1-844-662-6635, or firstname.lastname@example.org.