Working from home definitely has its perks: later wake-up times, relaxed dress code (read: pajamas), and no one around to judge you for talking to yourself throughout the day. But sometimes you need a change. You’ve got the skills, but the work culture (from none to some) requires a bit of finesse to find a groove.
It’s going to be different. However, different can be good. Keep an open mind and follow these tips to help make the transition into the 9-to-5 grind a little smoother.
1. Pack snacks
You’re used to having access to your own fridge and not having to give a lot of forethought about what you’ll eat that day. Although it may make you feel like a second grader, there’s only so much time — and money — for coffee/snack breaks, so you’ll be happy to have snacks available right at your desk.
2. Bring headphones
Whether you listen to music or not — I recommend a mellow playlist without lyrics from Songza — headphones will let you keep a little of your own world, even if you’re now in an open concept with tons of people around. It will block out at least a bit of the sound and signal to others that you’re “in the zone”, so they won’t bug you (as much).
While it’s important to maintain your space when in the thick of working, you’ll want to make sure this isn’t all the time. You don’t want to be that guy. Or loner girl. First impressions matter here. It’s all about striking the balance between being friendly, getting to know your co-workers, and disturbing people with a million questions. You will enjoy the job so much more if you know, and like, the faces that greet you every day.
4. Go for walks
But again, if you’re coming from a home environment, it’s important to maintain some space and sense of freedom, so the transition doesn’t feel too jarring. If an assignment or the environment gets overwhelming, don’t feel like you can’t leave for 5 or 10 minutes to distance yourself and bring perspective back. Most workplaces will encourage healthy breaks like this.
5. Buy comfortable dress shoes
You’re so not used to heels or pointed-toe shoes every day. Or maybe any day. So take it easy. Mix up your footwear wardrobe with a pair of quality, flat, comfortable shoes that you wouldn’t mind going for a 10-minute walk in.
6. Keep side projects
If you’re going from freelance to office, you’re probably used to working on multiple projects simultaneously. That doesn’t have to stop when going into an office. If you manage your time properly, you can retain outside contracts — as long as there is no conflict with your current job — to make extra cash, but more importantly, to give you an additional outlet for areas that may not be stimulated by your office job. This way, you’ll still feel that sense of control you had about your workflow previously.
Senior Coordinator of Program Development by day, freelance writer/editor/researcher by night, Dana Marie Krook is a firm believer in “having it all” — which, of course, means chasing your dreams, your bucket list, and your cupcake craving as far as necessary. She loves word games, yoga, running, and superhero movies, but would trade it all for the chance to see her first YA novel on the shelves of a bookstore.