Tips for a successful return to the office

Hint: It’s not “The Office”

Congratulations: Your employer wants everyone return to work, back to normal, ding-dong the Covid’s dead.

Maybe you can’t wait. A Ceridian/Harris poll said over 80 percent wanted to return to the office full time. Half of respondents said working remotely isolated them from their colleagues, 36 percent felt it hurt their career and 36 percent said it hurt their mental health.

My internal poll says 100 percent of the people who want to return to the office suffer from hurt mental health.

Maybe they’re so sick to death of their families they prefer getting up at 6:30 am, showering, shaving and dressing in uncomfortable business attire instead of stretchy athleisure wear, and leaving for 12 hours, working late honey!

Perhaps they love spending 1–2 hours a day cursing at idiot drivers and clueless commuters and arriving to work murderously stressed out.

Possibly they relish sitting in meetings until their buttocks tingle then go numb as they’re desperate to look at their phones and slowly atrophy while the presenter flop-sweats through his 25-slide deck.

In any case, these tips can help anyone ease back into the old grind:

Refill your Xanax Rx

You’ll need it to get the kids off to school again using a calm and reasonable voice while you also try to get ready for work while you also continue a fight from last night with your spouse — you’re good at multitasking and you’re in it to win it.

Rework your household budget

Factor in, oh, say, an extra $1,000 a week for gas and car maintenance or transit fare; lunch and afternoon Starbucks; happy hour drinks; sports betting pools; and pitching in for flowers, gifts, cake and whatnot for birthdays or ailing or departing colleagues.

If $1,000/week seems high, I’m factoring in hotel rooms for the occasional quickie with the work crush and marriage therapy because you and spouse seem to be drifting apart again but this time not unhappy about it because of too much time together.

Claim your cube

Sure, the open office concept means anyone can sit anywhere they want, whenever they want. Nobody owns their space.

But if you get back to the office before the swarm and put enough of your personal stuff in the best cube by the window, everyone knows and respects your squatter’s rights. There’s an unwritten law. Maybe leave an old, moldy turkey wrap in the top right drawer as deterrence.

Cut back on the booze

After a year of all-day “it’s noon somewhere!” you’ll have to wait until official happy hour to be happy.

Do not go cold turkey except for the delicious office cafeteria turkey wraps the size of infants. It took you a year to work up into “Madmen”-style business boozing and still be brilliant like Don Draper. Give yourself a year to ease up on the sauce.

In the meantime, it’s nobody’s business what’s in your travel mug.

Reacquaint with the beautiful, wonderful, amazing people of tech support

For the past year, we’ve depended on remote access VPN to do our jobs and avoid getting re-orged, reconfigured and right-sized out of our jobs.

Often this has meant sitting on hold for three hours listening to the same motel-lobby smooth jazz number played over and over, please wait, your call is important to us while we are frustrating other customers.

Going back to the office, revenge will be sweet if your employer has an IT customer service center staffed with real human people who are befuddled by your computer problem and you get to meet these sadistic DMV rejects face to face and finally give them a piece of your mind. Right? Wrong.

You need to suck up to IT even more because now they know what you look like. (“Ah,” they’ll say, “You look like the typical idiot that doesn’t know Python from Java.”) They’ll flag you as a troublemaker and tell the others to mess with you.

Typical IT customer punishment includes requiring a new, more secure password such as GGG15%ggg*(O{JK_UHQ&YNOC{P}}{E_fukme{+H{AD(KFG_+OT. Especially if you failed to answer their customer surveys with the highest ratings and praise in the comments section rivaling a papal benediction.

Remember: “The Office” is fiction

Sure, like millions you binged the show during Covid because perhaps somehow, inexplicably, you missed the office.

But you’ll be reminded first day back in the office that it’s nothing remotely like the popular comedy series.

For instance, the show ended in 2013 before “microaggressions” was a thing and Pam could sue Jim for flirting, and Michael would be canceled. So watch yourself, pal.

Welcome back!

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.

A Pullet Surprise-winning writer who always appreciates free chicken.