Good news – after a year inside, things are starting to open up. Life is returning to (a new) normal. People are looking forward to the future again.
With this in mind, there’s debate surrounding the benefits of keeping a remote workforce or sending people back into the office. The idea of getting back into workspaces for collaboration and community spirit is enticing for some – but for others, it can feel overwhelming.
Are you worried about heading back into the office? Do you have anxiety about commutes, socialising and mixing with colleagues again?
We’ve put together a few tips to help ease you back into the world of work.
Understand your anxieties
If you’re starting to panic about the office return or feel creeping anxiety when you consider it – take a second to evaluate your thoughts. Write down what’s making you feel this way. Is it the idea of being away from home? Are you worried that you won’t have enough time with your family?
Sometimes, when you have your worries out in front of you, you can easily make sense of them. That way you can figure out these challenges with your company.
If you’re interested in getting your thoughts in order, start by keeping a thought record—it’s as simple as taking a few moments to jot a recurring thought down on paper or with a mental wellbeing app like Foundations. This kind of journaling takes some effort, but it'll help you identify the repetitive thoughts (and feelings) that are distracting you from your work and replace them with less harmful thoughts over time.
Who’s ready to return?
There’s going to be a few obstacles in the workplace return. In line with your company’s protocol, do what you’re comfortable with.
If you’re living with vulnerable family members and would prefer not to go to the office, then make sure you’re communicating this with your manager. Or you have anxiety around COVID and would prefer not to be in close quarters with others – that’s something you should highlight with your organisation.
It’s important employers and employees speak about their thoughts, plans, and ideals for the future. That way no one is caught off guard.
Figure out your balance
It’s likely a lot of offices will require you back in when COVID is under control. When this happens, ease yourself into things.
Don’t rush into a five-day commute with gym classes every evening and rigorous social events on the weekend. It’s likely your body and mind will need time to adjust to the demanding stressors of ‘normal life’. Revisit the idea of a what ‘work-life balance’ means to you.
Otherwise, you might find yourself exhausted and stressed out trying to keep up. Stress is a natural human experience, but too much of it causes both physical and mental issues.
When heading back into the office, make sure to regularly check in with yourself and how you’re feeling.
Is this working for me? Do I need to make adjustments with my company? You won’t strike a perfect balance that works forever – but we can constantly adapt to make sure we feel our best.
Some things to consider
If you prefer to work from home (and have the option to), is the office the best place for you?
Sudden interruptions, spur-of-the-moment meetings, and long commutes can feel unappealing for some. If you’re getting your best work done at home, the office might not be the best move.
On the other hand, we are social creatures. There are a lot of benefits to being in the office; mainly interacting and bonding with our colleagues. There’s a sense of community and company morale when you’re together. And it’s a great way to problem-solve together, which may ease the loneliness of being at home.
It’s up to you to discuss these concerns with your manager or organisation. Frank and honest conversations with your company can help you tackle this next stage of work.
Worried about the future? Finding work stress hard to deal with? Speak to one of our GPs. They’re here to listen 24/7 and help guide you through your health journey.