13 Ways to Make a Successful Work Comeback

Have you been working from home, only popping into the office on occasion to attend a meeting or a coworker’s last-day happy hour?

Even though the company expects to see you online during office hours, working from home definitely has its perks. No one interrupts you to ask a quick question. You don’t need to worry about someone stealing your yogurt from the lunchroom refrigerator. You can text mom freely or dog-sit to make extra cash. You also don’t have to change your clothes, shower or brush your teeth.

However, what happens if your company decides to make a few changes, like eliminating the option to work remotely? If you’re lucky, they’ll give you enough time to make the necessary adjustments, such as finding someone to pick up your child from school, hiring a dog-sitter and get a haircut.

Making an #OfficeComeback after #WorkingFromHome and only popping in for occasional goodbye lunches can be difficult—for you and your colleagues. You need to have your #ReentryStrategy in place. Click To Tweet

Coworkers Need to Get Used to the Idea of Your Work Comeback

Returning to the office after being MIA (in the eyes of coworkers) will not only require an adjustment by you but by your colleagues as well.

Some of them might need time to warm up to you. They even may be, well, a little peeved about your return. Consider their perspective:

  • They aren’t used to listening to your water-cooler comments.
  • They may feel that you haven’t been in the trenches with them, going through the daily office turmoil or enduring endless meetings. And now they are forced to make room for you and your new office chair and computer.
  • You haven’t been part of their group, going out for lunch or drinks after work, and they may forget to include you.
  • They could become impatient because you don’t know how things are run in the office—its rhythms, priorities and politics.

Try not to take their attitude personally. And there are ways to show them that your comeback will be as seamless and as non-disruptive as possible.

work comeback

13 Ways to Make a Smooth Work Comeback

  1. Meet with your boss before or soon after your return. Ask about updates on company policies (which you probably ignored before, thinking they didn’t apply to you). Schedule a follow-up meeting two or three weeks into your transition to check in to see how you’re doing.
  2. Don’t bring a “This-is-how-I’ve-been-doing-it” attitude to the workplace.
  3. Keep in mind that you are no longer on “your” schedule.
  4. Your choices in attire should be guided by your coworkers’.
  5. Make it a priority to meet with each of your colleagues to re-engage with them.
  6. If you aren’t sure about something, ask.
  7. Do a lot of listening. Your colleagues can be invaluable when it comes to filling you in about the logistics, workload, protocol and office politics.
  8. Save your brilliant ideas for after you’ve eased into a regular routine. Or slowly introduce them when the moment is right.
  9. You are not a guest in the office, so don’t act helpless.
  10. Don’t whine about how bad traffic is, how much gas is costing you, or how much you miss wearing PJs. Instead of sympathy, you’ll get eye-rolling.
  11. Don’t submit a request for time off unless it’s an emergency.
  12. Bring in pastries or shareable snacks—this is a great way to express your thanks for their patience in welcoming you back to the team again and showing patience as you adjust to your new work schedule.
  13. Always acknowledge someone who has jumped in to help you, welcome you or offer advice. A “thank you” goes a long way.

After a month or so, if you are finding reintegration difficult, with uncooperative reactions from coworkers, talk to your boss. Don’t let things get worse before before doing something about it.

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Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, Workplace Civility, Soft Skills, Business Etiquette Expert, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”

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