How to transition from working at home to corporate office life?
February 10, 2015 4:12 PM   Subscribe

About two years ago I left my fast-paced corporate job to do freelance work for the same company from home. I thought I would hate it, but actually I discovered that I loved not dealing with the day-to-day interpersonal bullshit and the various stress of office politics.

But now I'm being asked to be physically present in the office as much as three to four days a week. And at currently just one or two days per week in office since January, my stress levels have already gone waaaay up. I'm not adjusting well to needing to be constantly 'on', or even just physically sharing office space with others. I don't think I have social anxiety, but I do often overthink and overanalyze social interactions to a point that can be mentally and emotionally taxing. On the other hand, I think my social skills have atrophied from lack of use and that this may improve with time and exposure, and I recognize that in order to stay relevant in this job, more face time is crucial.

So: if you are a person who has made this transition, how'd you do it (and was it worth it)? Any stories or advice appreciated.
posted by ladybird to Work & Money (5 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should add that I never did have very good coping mechanisms for stress when I was previously working in-house, so I don't have any tried and true methods to fall back on, and so that's obviously something I'm working on. For example, yoga in the evening seems to provide some relief.
posted by ladybird at 4:23 PM on February 10, 2015

Not exactly the same but I went from full time, to part-time with some time working from home, back to full time in a high stress job. One change I made was actually taking a lunch break away from my desk every day (unless absolutely critical). I rarely did that when full time before. Most of the time it is with other people in the office but not ones I directly work with. That way we don't discuss work matters at lunch either. I find myself to be less stressed overall and if I was getting stressed in the morning, it serves as a cooling off period and I am more productive in the afternoon.

I am an introvert so sometimes I just disappear to grab a bite, run an errand, or drive around, or I sit back and do more listening at lunch so I don't have to be "on" all the time.
posted by maxg94 at 4:43 PM on February 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

I started working from home a few years ago, and now I wonder if I could go back to an office full time! But I do go into my office for occasional visits (it's on another coast, so it's very occasional). Is your office an open layout, or are there areas for quiet work? I find it really helpful to have a corner to focus, so if shifting your physical location in the office is possible, that might help.
posted by three_red_balloons at 5:10 PM on February 10, 2015

My office has private spaces and conference rooms and when I am forced to be in the office, I try to sit in those and do my work. Otherwise, I get bombarded with unnecessary questions, updates and small talk. I'm more productive when I try to get away from everyone, so if you can find a quiet spot where you'll be able to work for stretches of time and be left alone, I'd do that. I basically avoid the mingling aspect of work and show up for the meetings I need to be in.

I also find it is helpful to get out of the office and go for a walk. Sometimes you just need that. Sometimes I'd go for a little drive or run to the store. Taking a break and not checking your phone for work emails can help you regroup a bit.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:59 PM on February 10, 2015

I was a freelancer for 8 years before being hired by my favorite client (with whom I still work another 8 years later). I'm a serious introvert and musician: imagine a woman with a cat on her lap humming and singing all day as she translates.

Moving into an office situation... it took me a few years and, thankfully, a first boss who thought my humming was a funny quirk that I just needed to be made aware of, rather than an "OMG WHAT ARE YOU THINKING" deal. Hindsight is 20/20: it's best to accept it will always be something to adapt to. The office itself changes too. There are people with similar quirks, people with "opposite" quirks, etc. and so forth. See it as fluid rather than fixed, and it becomes easier to adjust.

Seconding lunch breaks out of the office. This makes a huge difference. There's no need to explain yourself, indeed, it's professional to matter-of-factly smile "I eat out for lunch." There can be days you're invited along with others, or invite others along; find your personal balance.

In my pre-20-year-old days I was a cashier, which instilled another good habit: 15-minute breaks every two hours. Doesn't matter where it is so long as it's not at your desk. Back in the 1990s US this was legally required, but I left in 1997 so have little idea if it's still the case. Anyway, it was required for a reason; it gives you a chance to reset/relax. If for some reason you can't leave your desk, zone out. Look out a window. But avoid anything screen-based.

If you're unfortunate enough to be in an open-space offices, then empathy is the best route. Meaning: it will always be hell. No one likes working in them. NO ONE. Not even extraverts. Geh.
posted by fraula at 2:18 AM on February 11, 2015

« Older Costa Brava in July/August: Is Air-conditioning...   |   Time management, for real this time Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.