How to Survive a Return to In-Person Work as an Introvert

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Being called back to the office? Here’s how to adjust.

Key points

  • Many people are now being called back to the office after two years of remote work.
  • That could be a tough adjustment if you’re an introvert, but reclaiming your lunch break and asking for flexibility could help.

It’s a common misconception that introverts are unfriendly people who lack social skills. Rather, being social often exhausts introverts, whereas extroverts thrive on human contact. And many introverts simply prefer to work and do other things alone – nothing personal.

If you’re an introvert and have been working remotely during the pandemic, that arrangement may have suited you well – not to mention afforded you the chance to pad your savings by not having to pay to commute. But if you’re now being asked to return to the office, you may be dreading that change. Here are a few steps you can take to better cope with that transition.

1. Do not be afraid to step out

As an introvert, you might find yourself overwhelmed in a busy, bustling office. So have an escape route.

Schedule 15-minute periods where you step out of the office and go for a walk to clear your head. You may even want to give your manager a heads-up that you’ll be taking those breaks as a means of adjusting to being around so many people. Ideally, your boss will sympathize – and not mind as long as you’re ultimately getting your work done and meeting deadlines.

2. Reclaim your lunch break

When you work in an office, there’s more pressure to join colleagues for a walk to the sandwich shop or gather around the break room table. But it’s okay to spend that time alone and use it to recharge your batteries.

That does not mean having lunch at your desk, though – because that’s not a real break. Instead, find a spot you can escape to, whether it’s a local park, a cafe in town your colleagues have not yet discovered, or even the comfort of your own car parked around the corner from your office building.

Ask for some flexibility

Going from remote work to in-person work can be a shock to your system – especially if you’re an introvert. To that end, ask your employer for some flexibility.

That could mean coming into the office twice a week initially and then working your way up to full-time in-person work. Or, you might try to negotiate a hybrid work arrangement that has you doing your job remotely one or two days a week and coming to the office the rest of the week. If you’ve proven over the past two years that you’s capable of being productive in a home office setting, you may be given more leeway to continue to work remotely in some capacity.

Getting back into the swing of things

Adjusting to in-person work after a long-term remote stint is not easy. But if you’re the type of person who struggles with crowds and prefers to work solo, it can be especially tough.

It pays to use these tips to make your return to in-person work easier and more manageable. With any luck, you’ll settle into a groove and find ways to cope with your new surroundings, just as you may have done before the pandemic began.

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