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Hi There,

This is a moment so many of us have been waiting for! We’re entering into the “next normal” of our pandemic lifestyle.

While we can now move about unencumbered by facemasks, patronizing favorite dining establishments and returning full force to religious and sporting events, some of us remain concerned and anxious. That’s what bubbled up during a facilitated session last week about “RTO” (Return To Office).

An organization is committing to a hybrid schedule, where most employees are expected to be at the office 3 days a week. Our meeting was dedicated to understanding different attitudes about this return as well as addressing potential challenges that may arise when different employees are in the office on different days.

Talk about widening my lens! I dialed into the session thinking one way, and was surprised at what I discovered. Our discussion revealed four big themes (plus a half-dozen secondary trepidations):

1. Fear for Personal Safety: Subway travel and inconsistent messaging about masks and vaccination status at the workplace.

2. Irritation of Commuting: Time and expense.

3. Frustration When Focus is Needed: Funny enough, this cut both ways. Some focus better at work, others at home.

4. Unease About Invaded Boundaries: By others who are not present at the office.

If any of these sentiments resonate, strap on a Growth Mindset attitude and read on. Besides the very real topic of personal safety, a bit of strategy will mitigate your other concerns.

Commuting can be unfortunate when you consider that, with all the exhaustion involved, all you’ve accomplished is getting to and from work. But thanks to hedonic adaptation and a bit of planning, the pain can be alleviated. Any way to make this time more effective will bring a psychological boost to your energy. Good news! I’ve blogged about how to maximize your commute.

Ironically, distractions and interruptions were brought up both as at-home and in-office issues. This contrast clearly presents an opportunity to decide when you’ll be doing your deep focus work. In other words, intentionally plan to work on your “big rocks” during days that you’re in an environment suited for maximum focus.

Creating suitable boundaries has always been a challenge. And when doing so with someone who hasn’t internalized what you’re dealing with can be frustrating to both parties. Identifying what’s yours to own and what’s not is an important exercise to differentiate your being a team player vs a lackey. There are some natural questions you can ask yourself to determine when to say “Yes” and how to say “No” to requests.

If you’re concerned about RTO, I invite you to become curious. Ask yourself how you can craft a cadence yielding more productivity using less energy. How can you make the hybrid world a best-of-both-worlds situation?

I’m curious to learn what’s on your mind and what you’re learning as we return to the office and enter this next normal phase of work and life.


Deborah Goldstein
DRIVEN Professionals / Forbes / Linkedin