Published July 26, 2021
How to ease return to office anxiety for your employees
Restrictions are being lifted, face-to-face events and conferences are set to return and employers begin to welcome their staff back to the office. However, the talk of ‘office anxiety’ is on the rise with one report claiming that all 4,553 office workers surveyed in five different countries reported feeling anxious about the idea of returning to in-person work.
Anxiety can be described as “a psychological, physiological, and behavioural state induced in animals and humans by a threat to well-being or survival, either actual or potential.” With this being said, it’s no surprise that many people are feeling anxious about returning to work after being told to limit social interactions and to keep themselves and others safe for over a year now. After over a year of working from home, the transition from remote working to ‘normal’ in office hours is, understandably, a daunting thought for very many. Below is a chart showing the main reasons why people are feeling so anxious about returning to work.
Here are our tips on how you can ease the return to office anxiety for employees
Have the right procedures and safety measures in place
Having the right safety measures in place can help employees feel more at ease knowing that they are able to keep themselves and their loved ones safe whilst at the office. To reduce anxieties, arrange a call with all staff members and make sure to communicate what the new safety measures are and the reasons behind them. It’s important to stress the “why” behind each new procedure as it means your staff will understand the reasoning behind them and feel more secure whilst at the office.
It may also be beneficial to position the new safety measures as a group task, in order to keep each other safe everyone needs to be on board with the changes and follow the procedures in place.
As a leader, you need to make sure that you are as approachable as possible during the transition back into the office. It’s important for your staff to know that they are able to raise any concerns with you. This in turn will help to reduce any anxiety they are feeling as employees will know that any questions they have will be answered.
It’s a good idea to arrange more one to one meetings with each employee during the initial transition to ensure they feel happy, safe and comfortable whilst at the office and also give them a chance to raise any concerns in a private setting. Create an environment where not only physical safety but also psychological safety are important and be open to any suggestions on how you can make your staff feel safer.
Make space for hybrid working if possible
One way to ease anxieties about returning to the office is to be more flexible. Hybrid working is about matching the task to the location, and doing the right work in the right place. So, if it’s not essential for staff to be in the office five days a week, offering the option of hybrid working could really reduce the stress and anxiety tied with being in the office at the moment. Hybrid working has also been proven to help increase productivity as people are more likely to work well where they feel comfortable.
Other advantages of hybrid working:
- Fewer people in the office at one time, this makes social distancing a lot easier
- Can also be very cost-effective. For example, less space needed for employees in the office and a reduction in utility bills means your organisation could save money long term.
- With the rise in technology, hybrid working is becoming increasingly more popular and so now may be the time to implement this strategy in your place of work.
To conclude, having all these procedures in place can really help reduce anxiety within employees when returning to the office. The most important thing to remember is to ease employees back into office life gently so as to not overwhelm them. Moving forward and out of Covid-19 restrictions is something to look forward to and although navigating the change back to ‘normal life’ may not be easy we have all learnt to adapt quickly over the past year and so hopefully these new procedures will become second nature in no time!
Below are some links that may be helpful to share with employees feeling anxious about returning to the office: