How Can an Employee Manage the Return to Office Anxieties?

A worldwide lockdown has revolutionized how people work. It was tough to acquire new working methods like working from home. It took a lot of time for the people to adjust to these situations, but we did it. Thousands of employees and companies worked remotely. If you feel a public concern about returning to the office, you are not alone. Many people feel uncomfortable. After more than a year of working from a distance and seeing only our co-workers on screen -the idea of ​​seeing everyone in person can feel frustrating. And, as the Covid landscape is still evolving, it is difficult to be sure how long the “return to normal” will last.

 

With the news that offices are officially reopening, many of us are likely to experience what some experts call office anxieties. Indeed, after this recent incident of working from home, returning to work can be a daunting task; whether the ongoing Covid threat or just a reaction to change, most of us are healthy and truly comfortable in life wearing tracksuits. You may worry about losing the flexibility and freedom you have enjoyed, and that comfort of home is like sharing that with many people. The good news is that you are not alone. Even better: there are ways to help. Here, leading mental health professionals share their coping strategies. You may be wondering why returning to the office is so stressful. After all, you have experienced office life before.

 

So in this article, we will see how an employee can manage their return to office anxieties and what can a company do to address employees’ return to office anxieties.

 
What are office anxieties or workplace anxieties?
 

Workplace anxiety can include stress, anxiety, restlessness or stress about work, including concern about job performance, interacting with coworkers or speaking in public. Anxiety at work is expected. According to a study, about 40% of Americans report being stressed during their workday.

 
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Facts and Figures
 

As per a recent survey by limeade institute,

 

  • 77% cited being exposed to COVID-19 as their top source of anxiety, followed by less flexibility at 71% and commuting to work at 58%.
  • 56% of employees say their organization hasn’t asked for their feedback about return-to-work policies and procedures.
  • 29% say their organization shares employee feedback from surveys with them.
  • 45% say their organization either doesn’t take action based on survey results or, to a small extent or uncertainty.
  • 81% say their productivity either stayed the same or increased since shifting to working from home.
  • 82% say health and safety for themselves and their family is the top source of stress when looking at the year ahead.

 

Significance of Managing Employee’s Office Anxiety

 

Around 40 million adults worldwide between the ages of 18-54 suffer from anxiety disorders in their working lives. In 2020/21, stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 50% of work-related illnesses. To make matters worse, a survey by Talk out found that more than half of workers with anxiety disorders do not have access to mental health care.

 

Managing employee’s office anxiety can help employers and businesses demonstrate how much they care and pay attention to the welfare of their employees. Taking better care of our mental health allows us to do better at work and increase job satisfaction. Also, it will make the employees feel safe and better while working in the company. So their work performance and productivity can increase.

 

Why do Employees Have Return to Office Anxieties?

 

As the Covid-19 curve flattens and the country begins to reopen, many people are facing a new concern, sometimes called return or re-entry concerns. Anxiety about returning to the office takes many forms. Maybe it’s a logical concern, a social concern, a business concern, or a concern about routine interruptions. Changing the workplace or work method is not that easy; in the pandemic, we are addicted to working from home, and now when it comes to going again daily to the office, it sucks. Most employees prefer to work from home because it helps them manage the work-life balance, while some employees still prefer to work at the office. But after this pandemic returning to the office can cause anxiety because of fear and stress.

 

People who suffer from workplace anxiety may be concerned about:

 

  • Getting to work by car
  • Financial issues
  • Interaction with coworkers
  • Meeting participation
  • Performance appraisals
  • delivering presentations
  • Observing deadlines
  • Other work-related responsibilities

 

These concerns may manifest themselves at work in the following ways (among others):

 

  • Fail to meet deadlines or taking too long to complete tasks
  • Forgetfulness
  • Failure to concentrate or excessive self concentration
  • Take too many sick days off or less productivity
  • Family life may also suffer as a result of the spillover effect
  • Tension, headaches, a feeling of pressure, dizziness, and an upset stomach are examples of somatic (body) problems.

 

Workplace anxiety can affect various aspects of your life, such as your daily commute and interactions with colleagues. Unresolved, it can cause problems at work and home.

 

How to Manage Employees’ Return to Office Anxieties?

 

You can make workers cope with anxiety in the workplace by educating them on symptoms such as panic attacks, disassociation, or general stress and coping strategies. Employees can practise coping strategies at their workstations or during office meditation time.

 

  1. Talk with your employees and discuss their issues
  2.  

    Leaders can help alleviate employees’ anxiety by creating a safe space for them to discuss. Send an email or survey asking employees to share their concerns about returning to an intimate environment (anonymously if they prefer). Talk to them about these concerns and think about them.

     

    Explain what the company is doing to facilitate the transition and what steps are being taken to ensure that employees have a robust support system in the office. You can reduce the anxiety of returning to the office by showing your employees that you are open to their concerns and helping them.

     

  3. Take Proper Health Measures in the workplace
  4.  

    Even though more people are getting vaccinated, we need to remember that we are at the centre of a global epidemic. When employees return to the office, it is essential to take measures to keep everyone healthy.

     

    • Encourage employees to stay home if they experience any symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.
    • Wear masks in public settings, especially in environments where people can’t stay 6-feet away.
    • Social spacing in shared spaces – Keep at least 6 feet between individuals while at home.
    • Encourage employees to wash/sanitize their hands regularly and cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of their corners.
    • Discourage employees from sharing goods and equipment. If this is not possible, clean and disinfect before and after use.

     

  5. Give options to the employees
  6.  

    Although the management is ready to return to the staff office, not all employees are willing to replace or return to the office setting. It is important to remember that we have all suffered from epidemics and are dealing with them differently. Many have lost loved ones to epidemics, have contracted covid in themselves, or have experienced other life-changing events over the past year. Moreover, if this past year has taught us anything, technology can make most jobs home-based.

     

    When reopening your office, consider giving employees the option to return to the office or continue working from home. Most employees will be willing to return to the office, but this will help reduce the fear of those who are not ready to return. Remind them that they are not alone in their concerns or experiences and encourage them to talk to their team leader about the options available. Once the vaccine is available to more people, you will see an increase in the number of employees who want to return. But until then, giving employees a choice can lead them to a better transition to office life and get support from the company.

     

  7. Take care of employees
  8.  

    Be honest with employees about your own experiences and fears so that they feel comfortable talking to you and others about their concerns or experiences. Contact your health insurance companies, see what options for treating mental health, and share this information with employees who need professional help. If you use a team messaging program like Slack or Microsoft Teams, create a channel where employees can share their tips and tricks to deal with stress and anxiety.

     

  9. Communication can be useful
  10.  

    It is essential to state your reasoning clearly when you return to the office. It establishes clear and transparent communication between senior leadership and your employees. It also shows employees a reason and a decision-making process behind the move and that it was not done just to get the bodies back to the office. Take the time to explain what changes may occur in their work schedule and expectations (if anything has changed), and be prepared to have conversations with employees who have questions.

     

  11. Taking feedback can help you to understand
  12.  

    Your employees experience different anxiety levels depending on their circumstances and concerns. That’s why you need to meet the staff where they are and involve everyone in the conversation whenever possible. When creating strategies to help reduce anxiety, allow employees to express their concerns and questions. Consider their feedback and ask them if, if anything, it will be easier for them to return to the office and compromise when possible.

 
Tips For Employees to overcome office anxieties
 

  1. Neglected anxiety can lead to many health problems, including insomnia, overeating, and even heart conditions. Therefore, you must talk about your concerns if you do not talk to a licensed therapist and talk to a trusted friend or family member.

  2.  

  3. In addition to financial reasons, performance can be crucial to your self-esteem and add to your social identity.

  4.  

  5. Tell a trusted coworker. Knowing that someone accepts your situation may comfort you and may reduce the likelihood of having a panic attack at work.

  6.  

  7. Learn to recognize the symptoms of your illness and how to deal with it if you experience anything at work.

  8.  

  9. Make a list of things to do and put your work first. Schedule sufficient time to complete each task or project.

  10.  

  11. Get started on big projects early. Set a specific deadline. Anticipate problems and work to prevent them.

  12.  

  13. Spend more time initially and avoid headaches later when you have to redo your work.

  14.  

  15. Do not overreact or promise to take projects if you do not have enough time.

  16.  

  17. If you feel frustrated, ask a colleague for help. Later you can restore the favor.

  18.  

  19. Speak calmly and speak for the people if you have too much to deal with. Your supervisor may not notice that you have overextended.

  20.  

  21. Installing and deleting your desktop and desktop may be listed below your priority list, but it can save you time over time and may prevent problems later.

  22.  

  23. Avoid toxic colleagues. Try to ignore the indifference and gossip in your work.

  24.  

  25. Walking around the block for a few minutes for deep breathing can help clear your head.

  26.  

  27. Try not to bring work home. Do not check your work email or voicemail after hours.

  28.  

  29. Take a moment to celebrate your good work before moving on to the next project. Thanks to everyone who helped. You will be refreshed and ready to work when you return.

  30.  

  31. Take advantage of the resources and benefits of the employer. Your workplace may offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), discounted trips to gyms, or skills development courses. Learn what is available to you.

  32.  

  33. Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and cut down on caffeine and alcohol. Try to keep your body and mind to cope with challenging situations.

 

Should You Consider Employee’s Anxiety While Reopening Offices?

 

Nearly half of employees are worried that their employers will bring them back to work before they are safe. More than half of them worry about the future of the company they work for, and especially about their jobs. If employers do not pay attention to these sources of concern and do not help employees manage their mental health, hiring people will help companies return to pre-coup productivity and engagement levels. Companies need to continue to show commitment to their values ​​during the re-entry phase. This risk is compounded by widespread workplace stigma, with fewer than one in ten employees describing their workplace as stigma-free for mental or substance-use disorders, leading many to avoid seeking needed care.

 

Also, we know that many factors affect the employee’s performance, so a company needs to improve the working environment. Employees can’t work correctly if they have anxiety while working, so the company needs to manage them. Employers who acknowledge and prioritise psychological safety alongside physical safety in their post-pandemic tasks can aid employees’ psychological health and their efforts to foster inclusive workplaces. This guidance can have a tangible impact on critical workplace outcomes such as employee well-being, satisfaction, productivity, and absenteeism.

 
Conclusion
 

Last year was a new experience for all of us. It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to return to the office. As companies begin to return to the office from Telework, you need to show empathy and patience and communicate your plans. By being patient with your employees, being honest and working to reduce any worries and anxieties about coming back, you can help employees make a much easier transition to office life. So from this article, we can conclude that return to office anxieties can affect employees’ work and, in turn, impact the business. Hence it is vital to manage the workplace and return to office anxieties to that employees can work happily in the workplace.

 

FAQs

 

  1. What is office anxiety?
  2.  

    Workplace anxiety or office anxiety can include stress, anxiety, restlessness or stress about work, including concern about job performance, interacting with coworkers or speaking in public.

     

  3. What are the symptoms of workplace anxiety?
  4.  

    If you have workplace anxiety, you might have symptoms like:

     

    • Avoiding friends or family
    • Constant worrying
    • Crying
    • Feeling irritable, tired, or tense
    • Feeling like you need to be perfect
    • Having trouble sleeping
    • Having trouble concentrating or remembering things
    • Losing interest in your work
    • Overeating or undereating

     

  5. Is anxiety a mental illness?
  6.  

    Generally, anxiety is common in most employees. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorder and affect about 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable, and there are many effective treatments available. Treatments help most people live every day productive lives.

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