As more and more people are fully vaccinated and we begin to see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, office buildings are starting to open up again. But not everyone is excited about the prospect of giving up their “new normal” in exchange for their old routines and way of life. There is been so much focus on what we’ve lost over the past year, but so many of us have gained a lot too (more family time, flexibility, new hobbies, etc.). We’ve also dealt with so much uncertainty and stress over the past year and it’s going to take time to adjust to the world opening up again. All of this is adding up to very real anxiety about returning to the office and employers need to recognize it.
What are some of the major anxiety-inducing areas people are experiencing when it comes office re-entry? Here’s a look at a few:
A Loss of Time and Flexibility
Not everyone has had the luxury of working from home during the pandemic. But for those who have, there have been some silver linings during the past year. Not sitting in traffic and saving money on gas. Spending more time with family. Making more home cooked meals. Those are just a few of advantages many have experienced during an otherwise difficult year. And many workers are not eager to give up that newfound flexibility.
Fear of COVID-19 Spread in Closer Quarters
We know we have effective vaccines, but we still don’t know how long they’re effective. There is still a lot to be figured out and that’s causing anxiety for many people returning to the workplace. What will be the cleaning protocol for the office? Will people be required to wear masks? There are still so many questions. In fact, a survey released in March by the American Psychological Association found that 48% of people who have been fully vaccinated feel uneasy about returning to in-person interactions once the pandemic is over.
Better Focus and Less Distractions Working from Home
Yes, it took many of us a while to adjust to working from home and develop new routines. For those with small children, that may have been next to impossible. But for many, working from home offered a better chance to focus without the distractions of office life, particularly in the age of the open office plan. For introverted people, working from home may have been a dream come true! A recent survey of professionals by staffing firm Robert Half found that only 25% of people want to return fully to the office.
Our next article will touch on ways that employees can reduce anxiety as they return to office life. If you’d like help transitioning your team members back to the office, Leah M Joppy and Associates can help with ways to make the process smoother and reduce stress for everyone.
Call us at 301-670-0051 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.