Empty office desks back to back
Empty office desks back to back

Tips for managing back-to-work anxiety

With many workplaces reopening their doors amidst the easing of coronavirus restrictions, this has the potential to be a stressful time for employees.

There are a number of reasons that you may be feeling on edge about returning to work. Here are some examples of these issues and how you can manage your anxiety.

Causes for concern

Commuting 

If you’ve been working from home for the last few months, you might be nervous about using public transport again. Given the government-issued direction on physical distancing has been based around reducing the spread of the coronavirus, this is a valid concern.

The idea of going from keeping 1.5 metres away from everyone, including loved ones, to sharing a peak-hour train with dozens of other commuters, is understandably stressful.

Sharing equipment

The nature of sharing a worksite or office space is such that you’ll also be sharing a lot of the same stuff. In traditional offices, this ranges from communal bathrooms and kitchens (including cutlery) to meeting rooms, desks and computers. This is especially relevant for office workers who work for businesses that hot desk.

Construction sites, gyms and allied health studios will all face their own unique challenges when it comes to using the same equipment, as will a plethora of other industries and workplaces.

Changing routines

While many people will be excited to return to some form of normality, there will be others that have become accustomed to their new arrangements. For those who have been working from home, you’ve had the opportunity to sleep in longer and wear tracksuit pants all day.

Parents who have had more time with their children as a result of COVID-19 may be apprehensive about not being able to do so moving forward.

What can you do

Voice your concerns

If you’re feeling uncomfortable about returning to work, don’t keep it to yourself. Be honest with your employer so you can work through any issues together. This is an unprecedented situation for them as well, and they may not be aware of things that are worrying their staff unless they are informed.

See if flexibility is an option

While many businesses are reopening their doors, it doesn’t mean that working from home is off the table completely. If your employer is still allowing remote working in some form, see if you can arrange a split between time spent in the physical workspace, and days at home. Even if it’s just one or two days, it may help ease the transition and offset some of the anxiety you’re experiencing.

Look after yourself

You might find yourself focusing a lot of energy into going back to work, and some things can fall by the wayside. Make sure self-care isn’t one of these. Continue to prioritise activities that keep you centred and happy, whether they be exercise, eating well, meditation or simply connecting with loved ones.

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