It finally happened: An employer made you an offer you can’t refuse. Health insurance — check. A salary that pays the bills and leaves you a little for your retirement savings? Ditto. You even get PTO — what a concept!
There is one problem, though — you’ll have to trade in your comfy pants and your short commute to your couch. You’re giving up the freelance life to return to the 9-to-5 grind.
Here are nine tips for what to expect!
1. You’ll make friends with your alarm.
Hopefully, you practice positive sleep hygiene techniques by going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day. However, when you work from home, chances are, you don’t catch too much flak for adjusting your start time slightly. Once you return to office life, you’ll need to become accustomed to punctuality.
It’s one thing to show up at 9:10 a.m. when the only thing waiting for you is your computer. It’s quite another to miss an important meeting because you hit snooze once too often!
Not to worry — people who have succeeded at remote work are often some of the most self-motivated people by nature, meaning they have a strong ability to set goals and stick to them. Even if getting up early isn’t fun the first few days, power on. Your body will eventually feel better once you’ve established a routine!
2. You’ll need to update your wardrobe.
When you work remotely, nobody but your cat Squeakers sees you lazing about in your Rick and Morty pajamas. Chances are, she doesn’t care, but your boss will. When you return to an office environment, you’ll need to dress for professional success.
If you’ve been freelancing for a while, you might lack the budget to go on a shopping spree. However, if you carefully select a few quality pieces, you can mix and match your way to office appropriateness. The old advice to dress for the promotion you want is somewhat passé in today’s casual climate. However, you should avoid anything too revealing or worn.
3. You’ll have first-day jitters.
Remember the butterflies you got in your stomach on the first day of school? Your first day back in the office will feel like that. You’ll have the impression that everyone is looking at you — and hey, some of them might be. They’re likely just excited to get to know you!
You’ll have to experience the awkwardness of not knowing where to pick up your mail or where to find the restroom. Do you remember the joy of the cafeteria when you didn’t know who to sit with? Get over that nervousness now by dining in the breakroom instead of eating at your desk. Yes, you want to give the impression that you work hard, but it’s also vital to introduce yourself to colleagues.
4. You’ll relearn social skills.
Speaking of feeling awkward, if you’ve freelanced for a while, you might not have had much contact outside of your computer screen. Now, though, you have to connect IRL with your co-workers. Don’t stress — come prepared with some office-appropriate icebreaker questions and your best listening skills. You’ll make new acquaintances quickly — everyone enjoys talking about themselves.
5. You’ll remember why traffic reports matter.
If you’ve forgotten about the joys of commuting, surprise! You’re about to become best friends with the traffic report on your morning newscast. Alleviate the urge to express road rage before you feel it. Arm yourself with a good audiobook or positivity podcast for the drive.
6. Your feet may feel sore.
Telecommuting means rarely having to put on shoes. If you haven’t worn any except athletic trainers for a while, expect your feet to feel sore after your first day. Invest in a comfortable pair you can walk in, and you’ll minimize blisters.
7. You’ll up your meal-planning game.
Depending on your office location, your 30-minute lunch break could fly by before you find a meal. Learn how to meal prep on the weekend, so you have easy grab-and-go lunches for the workweek. You can also dice vegetables and other food items for meals and store them in single-serve containers. That way, they’re easy to toss in the pan or wok when you’re exhausted from a long day.
8. You’ll get possessive of “me” time.
Going back to work at an office requires more time than the hours you punch on the clock. You need to groom yourself daily — few people care if you don’t comb your hair when you freelance. You’ll need to leave time for traffic jams.
While you might find it easier to segue between work and personal time, you will grow possessive of what you have to spend off the clock. Remind yourself that it’s normal to feel aggravated sometimes. However, do count to 10 to prevent yourself from doing anything you’ll later regret.
9. You’ll also feel happy about your good fortune.
Finally, when payday rolls around, you’ll likely breathe a sigh of relief. You got paid on time without having to invoice anyone! You’ll feel even better once you realize the full benefits of returning to 9-to-5 work. Fully 25% of Americans receive no PTO, for example, including those in the gig economy. The first time you clock out to attend a doctor’s appointment without worrying about coming up short on rent, you may find yourself wanting to dance for joy.
Yes, you can adjust to the 9-to-5 grind.
It can be tough to go from a freelance career to a 9-to-5 position. However, the payoff can be worth it!