New York, NY –  Although there’s been a slight increase in people returning to their offices, the numbers are still far from normal. Some companies have pushed their return dates back due to the Delta variant, while others are returning to a hybrid environment with staggered work crews and alternating in-office hours.

Ben Kimmel.

Some workers are happy to return, while others are not. Either way, the business world is opening back up. There are new opportunities for workers. However, office cultures have changed since pre-Covid times.  

It’s tough enough to be the “new kid,” but add the stress of today’s work climate. Add the political tensions, add the conflicts between the vaccinated and the anti-vaccination movement, include the empty work stations that were occupied by colleagues who passed away during the pandemic. Next, add the learning curve required to acclimate to a new work environment, and the challenge becomes more intense.

Adjusting to new environments takes time. Fortunately, there are some healthy tricks that can help employees adapt to their new surroundings. Whether the opportunity is new or this is simply a case of returning to the old office, perhaps the following strategies can help us all acclimate to the many changes.

First, it’s no secret that the “Holy War” between Democrats and Republicans has become a new kind of religion for a lot of people. That’s why it’s smart to avoid airing personal views and political topics in the workplace. It’ll reduce tensions.

Secondly, allow for adjustments. Allow yourself to grow and to remain teachable. It is important to understand that each working environment will be different. Supervisors have different approaches and expectations. Therefore, allow yourself the flexibility it takes to harmonize with your new co-workers. Be mindful that old biases can conflict with new relationships — so, be open to change and criticism.

My third point comes from an old suggestion: “Stick with the winners.” This means looking for the people who have the best approach to their daily responsibilities. Look for those who’ve shown a friendly side and learn how to navigate and enjoy your new position.

Look for opportunities to introduce yourself and set healthy goals and boundaries — and keep in mind; the pace you set for yourself is the pace you’ll need to keep. So, as the kids say, “Keep it real!” And be just you.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, avoid people who spread gossip, but listen and be mindful of them. Understand that gossip is a clue and slander often defines a person’s character. Therefore, pay attention to the social clues in your workplace.

I will end this with this as my closing statement: Estimates say that it can take approximately two or three months to comfortably acclimate to a new work environment. But since cultures and opinions will vary, allow yourself the ability to reach your best possible potential by meeting your position with a clear and honest approach. Remember, this is a job. Look to avoid the irrationality of overly-emotional thinking and avoid the personalization of the surrounding attitudes. As it is, life has been tough since the start of the pandemic. Let’s not make anything harder by undermining the chance to get back to work and put the virus behind us.

Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate.  Ben can be reached at



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