First day back in the office

It’s your first day back in the office after a year …

By Kerry Riley, AVN.

You wake up in the morning as usual. You have a shower, get dressed, head downstairs, make a coffee, settle down with your laptop at the kitchen table…. And then you remember – the pandemic is over and it’s your first day back in the office.


You try to remember your normal routine, where you left your work bag, your pass to get into the office, how you get to the office….. your head feels like it’s going to explode.

You take a deep breath as you’ve not been breathing for the last 5 minutes. You CAN do this, you tell yourself.

So you head back upstairs, take off your sweats and look for your work clothes. But your shirt isn’t ironed and your shoes aren’t polished.

More panic.

You start to feel sick thinking of the drive into the office. How long does it take? Do you have petrol? What if there’s traffic? And then you remember that you have to get the kids to school first.

How do you even do this?

You get everyone in the car and you swallow down the sick that’s forming in your mouth as you realise, you’re going to be with people you haven’t seen in a year. Will they notice the weight you’ve put on? Will they comment on your lockdown haircut? How do you make small talk when you’ve only spoken to the cat during the day for the last year?  What about COVID? Will the office be safe? What if you catch it and pass it onto your family?

You finally reach the office but you don’t get out of the car. It’s all too much. You can’t do this.

How will you concentrate on your work with other people around?

Will you able to take that lunchtime walk that’s become so essential to you?

How can you get through the day and look your boss in the eye, knowing that it’s just not the same?

This is a big adjustment

This is just half of what will be going through your team’s minds at the thought of returning to the office. Some of these concerns may sound trivial but this is a big adjustment to the life we have all been living for the last year. Some of your team will be overjoyed to be back; others will find it extremely daunting. Some will have come through the pandemic unscathed, but others may have been profoundly affected by what’s happened to them or their loved ones.

It is now your job as a leader to support both your and your team’s wellbeing. It won’t be easy but you can put measures in place to reduce the anxiety in your team.

The Back To Work questionnaire will help you understand your team’s needs in this situation – download it below:

Back To Work

There are more resources and guidance on workplace wellbeing on the AVN Know How Hub – find out  more at



Photo by Nastuh Abootalebi on Unsplash