Anxious about returning to the workplace? This article explores different ways you can ease yourself back into office working.
The COVID-19 pandemic abruptly changed the way we live our lives, and many of us have now been working from home for over a year. With the vaccine roll-out progressing quickly and restrictions gradually easing, we are beginning to see the light at the end of what has been a very long and dark tunnel.
During the last year, we have all dreamed of life returning to “normal”, but now that this is in sight, many of us are beginning to feel anxious about the changes that inevitably lie ahead. For the majority of us, home is a “safe place”, and is a total contrast to the thought of venturing out and using public transport. Spending time with people outside our own household, moving through crowded spaces, and working from the office or other workspace, has begun to play in our minds, and is fast becoming a source of anxiety. There will, of course, be changes to the workspace we remember, with possibly a raft of new health and safety considerations, such as social distancing rules and other changing restrictions; this will feel like a lot to take in initially.
Others see going back to work as a positive change that will allow us to gain back some independence, and ensure a better work/life balance in having a separate location for home and work.
How are you feeling about going back to the office?
Everyone is different – some people are excitedly looking forward to returning to a managed office environment, while others are experiencing varied levels of apprehension.
It seems that people can be split into four fairly even groups. Which group do you fall into?
- Those who are eager to return to the office full-time, and gain back some independence and separation between work and home life.
- Those who are happy to return to the office, but aren’t in any rush.
- Those looking to change their work routine into flexibly working from home, for example by splitting the week between 2-3 days from home, and 2-3 days in the office.
- Those that would be happier to work from home permanently, whether that be part or full time.
Preparation is key to an easy transition
So, what can you do if you are worried about returning to the workplace? Preparation is key!
The fear of the unknown can contribute to anxiety, so preparation will help to reduce worries of going back to the workplace. Below we have listed some tips that may help you:
Remember to be mindful of how others are feeling
Now that we have covered some of the essential tips that might help you in preparing to go back to the office, let us conclude by discussing the importance of being mindful towards your colleagues. It is important to remember that as we go back to the office, whether we are happy or anxious about it, colleagues may feel very different about the experience.
Each of us have a unique set of feelings, beliefs and behaviours, which are shaped by numerous factors, including our age, gender, work, education, values, culture, beliefs, experience, achievements, relationships, family situation and upbringing. All of these unique factors have moulded the way we look and experience our world.
This means that we all see things slightly differently from our own individual perspectives, react differently to what life presents to us and treat ourselves and others differently. Having this appreciation that we are all unique in the way that we make sense of the world is a great starting point in helping to understand and manage our own personal stress and anxiety.
Not recognising the fact that we all have our own personal frame of reference can lead to us being somewhat opinionated and narrow minded. If you have an appreciation of the factors that influence your own viewpoint, you will be in a better position to set your views aside and support someone if they ask you for help with their problems.
We need to listen non-judgmentally when trying to help others, particularly when stress and anxiety is heightened during these changing times as we prepare to re-enter the workspace.