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10 Tips for Returning to the Office After COVID

As of May 12, 2023, Valley Medical and Wellness no longer offers COVID-19 testing.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit almost three years ago, and many companies are just now reopening their physical offices. While working from home is still an option for many, many others now face the prospect of returning to office work after years of working remotely.

What do you need to do to prepare to return to the office? After several years of working from home, it’s not as easy as just showing up at the office one day. Here are ten tips to help you ease into the return to traditional office work.

1. Get a COVID Test

Many businesses require returning workers to get a COVID test before their first day back. Others require workers to be fully vaccinated and boosted before returning. Find out from your company’s HR department what, if any, requirements they have for returning workers.

Even if your company doesn’t require you to get tested, it’s still a good idea to get a COVID test before returning to the office. A negative COVID test reassures you that you’re safe and not contagious, and it’s good insurance in case anyone at the office has any issues.

2. Take It Slowly

Returning to the office environment after months or years away can be a big adjustment. Don’t stress yourself out by trying to do it all at once. See if you can return on a hybrid schedule so you still have some days working from home, or maybe do the office half-days for a week or so. Give yourself some grace and take it easy.

3. Be Understanding of Others

Just as you need to give yourself some slack when returning to the office, you also need to be understanding of others who are dealing with the same issues. Some co-workers will be highly uncomfortable returning to a crowded social environment. Some will want to wear masks, even if they’re not required. Some will be hesitant to work closely, attend group meetings, or even gather around the water cooler. Some may be at higher risk of infection and understandably protective of their personal health. Whatever the case, be understanding of how others react to returning to the office and treat them with the same compassion and respect you’d like to receive.

4. Know the Rules

Before you head back to the office, you need to know what your company expects of you. Some things will likely be different from when you left.

For example, some companies may have different office hours. Others may have retooled some of the ways they do business, such as meetings and conferences. You may even find that your old office is gone, replaced by an office-sharing model that better accommodates hybrid work models.

You also need to know your company’s rules regarding COVID and other illnesses. Are you required to wear a mask—and, if so, under what circumstances? Do you need to report your temperature and other symptoms each morning? What is the company’s policy if you do get sick? Know what to expect before you come back.

5. Track Community Infection Levels

How you handle in-person office work may vary depending on the COVID levels in your community. If infection levels are low, you may be willing to take more risks regarding in-person meetings and such. If infection levels rise, you may want to take more precautions, such as wearing a mask in the office or opting to work more from home. Use the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker to view data for your community.

6. Set a New Routine

If you’ve worked remotely for some time, you’ve no doubt developed your own at-home work routine. When you return to the office, you’ll need to scrap that routine and set a new one for those days you have in-person work. You may be used to rolling out of bed five minutes before your first Zoom meeting, but you won’t have that luxury when you need to shower and drive to the office. Allow time for personal grooming, meals, commuting, and transitioning from home to work. Your life will change when you return to the office—and it probably won’t be the same as before COVID.

7. Revisit Your Commute

Not only do you have to figure in commute time, but you also can’t expect your new commute to be the same as before COVID. Work patterns and traffic patterns have changed in the interim, with fewer people traveling to the office and those that do not necessarily following the traditional 9-to-5 (or 8-to-5) schedule. You may find traffic lighter than before, which is a good thing. You may also find mass transit schedules have changed, which may not be a good thing. Be prepared for changes and adapt accordingly.

8. Revisit Your Work Wardrobe

Your commute may not be the only thing that’s changed since the start of the pandemic. You may also need to revisit your work wardrobe, especially if you put on a few pounds while working from home. It’s also possible that your company’s dress code has changed in the interim. Check out your wardrobe before you head back to ensure you have what you need and that it fits comfortably.

9. Work from Home When You Can

Post-COVID, many organizations have adopted a more employee-friendly work model that enables employees to work at least partly from home. Check with your supervisor and HR department to see if you qualify for this hybrid model and determine what, if any, days you can continue to work remotely.

10. If You Don’t Feel Good, Stay Home—and Get a COVID Test

COVID is still with us, as are the flu, RSV, and all manner of seasonal illnesses. If you’re not feeling well, you don’t want to expose your co-workers to whatever it is you may have. Work from home if you have a sore throat or temperature and get a COVID test to be safe. And when you return to the office after being sick, wear a mask for a few days, just in case.

About Valley Medical and Wellness

Valley Medical and Wellness offers COVID and flu testing and treatment for people of all ages. Test results are typically available the same day, and we accept all major healthcare insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid. COVID and flu testing is available at our Burnsville, Minneapolis, and Woodbury locations. Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve administered tens of thousands of tests to the public, and are proud to be a registered testing center with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Valley Medical is also a premier chronic pain management and addiction treatment practice with offices in Bemidji, Burnsville, Minneapolis, Rochester, and Woodbury, Minnesota. We strive to improve the quality of life for those suffering from pain and/or addiction through a comprehensive approach focusing on overall wellness, along with progressive and knowledgeable medical treatments. We work closely with our patients and recognize that dealing with pain and/or addiction can impact every aspect of their lives, including their self-worth, physical health, jobs, relationships with friends and family, finances, and mental health.

For more information about our services and to keep up with the latest events happening at the clinic, check us out on:


Michael Miller Michael Miller Michael Miller is a Business Process Writer at Valley Medical and Wellness. He's an established writer with more than 200 books and thousands of articles published over the past three decades. He writes on a variety of topics, from healthcare to technology to music. He is also a member of the Interstellar Foundation, dedicated to telling the story of humankind via NASA spacecraft traveling beyond the solar system.

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