How to Transition Back to the Office after Working from Home for Years

In today’s labour market, there is a growing trend of employees starting to work from home by launching their own business, freelancing or enrolling in the company’s at-home program. According to a 2013 survey, at least one-fifth of American workers are working from the comfort of their own home, and this number is projected to increase substantially in the next decade.

Although a growing number of people are working from their kitchen, bedroom or sofa, the question that has to be asked is: what about those who are transitioning back to the office lifestyle? There are plenty of individuals who have either failed at their freelance or home business endeavour or their company has eliminated the privilege of telecommuting.

Just like your first day of school, returning to the office can be intimidating, difficult and eye opening. After years of earning a living from your very own fortress of solitude and secluding yourself from the inconsiderate transit commuters and the office politics that often engulf a business, you are now required to complete your work and receive a paycheck on-site.

Whether you’re working at a new job after years of freelancing or you’re transitioning from your company’s at-home program, here are six tips on how to shift easily back to the office after all of these years:


If you have worked as a freelancer for the past number of years or you’ve held one off-site job then it’s possible you haven’t updated your resume. In either case, be sure to update, edit and modify your resume accordingly. If you’ve owned your own writing business then list the companies you’ve done projects for, or if you’ve worked with the same company from home then outline your duties and accomplishments.

Professional Attire

Despite the fact that it is recommended that those working from home should wear business casual or professional attire, many telecommuters still sport around pajamas, exercise shorts and yoga pants while working. If you’re guilty of doing the ladder then you have to get into the rhythm of wearing professional clothing (pants, collared shirt and jacket for men; skirt/dress/pant and blouse for women). Keep your clothes clean, iron or dry clean them and refrain from being too casual.


Indeed, you’re not being paid to socialize, but it’s still important for you to become accustomed to communicating with your colleagues. After years of working by yourself in your home and just hanging out with the cat, you now have to talk and be with these office workers on a regular basis. Maintain a smile, don’t get into controversial topics and be friendly. Whatever you do, don’t isolate yourself from the staff.


During the noon hour, you were fortunate enough to walk on over to your refrigerator and make a nutritious and filling lunch. Now that you work at an office again you have two options: brownbag or head out with your colleagues to a restaurant. In order to save money, prepare your workday lunch before you go to bed and have a nice portion to keep you filled until you return home.

Pop Culture

If you don’t watch television, view new motion pictures or keep up with all things pop culture then you may be in for a rude awakening when you step foot into the office. The aforementioned is usually the topic of conversation for water cooler stop-and-chats and lunches. If you don’t want to be alienated and ostracized at the office and you wish to be included in office talks then read up on the latest entertainment, gossip and other pop culture news around.


One of the greatest perks of working from home is that you don’t have to be involved in the chaos known as public transit. On a Monday morning and Friday afternoon you were already at home and don’t have to be pushed around, coughed at or feel imprisoned as the train is full from one end to the other.

It’s important that when you return to the office that you have to get used to this again. It doesn’t have to be hard. Instead, take deep breaths, plan your trips in advance and don’t become anxious – this can be circumvented by bringing a book to read, listening to your music or completing work assignments.

Most people yearn to work from home, even if they concede that it would be impossible because of all of the distractions. You did it, but now you have to make an emphatic return. It may be discouraging at first, but it’s a concept that you’ll get used to again, and before you know it, you’ll be getting raises and promotions.

Have you transitioned back to the office after working from home for several years? Let us know how you did it in the comment section.

Photo by Moresheth via Flickr.