Back to office anxiety? You’re not alone

If you are feeling uneasy or anxious about what the future holds, know that you are not alone. Not only have we had to navigate the unknown territories that come with a global pandemic but our lives have had to adapt and shift to a new way of working in a professional capacity.

Over the past 18 months, we have been dealt with uncontrollable changes which have shifted our normal day-to-day. Below, we share tips for both team members and leaders on how to effectively deal with the reality and possible anxiety of going back to the office.

Acknowledgement

Firstly, acknowledging that these changes can have a big effect on our mental health is the first step. Even if you may not feel very stressed or you’re not experiencing spiralling anxiety, taking the time to acknowledge that these stressors may live deeper down and could later surface as fatigue or even burnout is important.

Tips for team members

Preparation

Through understanding yourself and your own personal needs, you will be able to put yourself in a position where you can control what you can influence. A great way to prepare to go back to the office would be to visit the workplace if possible without doing work. This sense of familiarity can ease these anxious feelings and will ease the transition back to the office.

Communication

Do your best to communicate effectively with your co-workers and employer, should you feel comfortable. Again, you are not going through this alone and your personal thoughts and experiences are probably shared. Find a way to communicate how you feel and what you need so others can help where possible.

Understanding

Try to be understanding through this time with yourself and with others. Mistakes will happen especially as this is a completely new challenge for most workplaces and teams. The transition back to the office will not be perfect so it’s important to exercise as much understanding as possible.

Get help

If your anxiety is too much to manage on your own and you are finding these changes overwhelming, seeking professional help can be the most effective step you can take.

Individuals handle stress and anxiety in very different ways. As we continue the conversation on back to work anxiety, we need to understand that the lack of concise decisions by those in decision-making positions will affect people in different ways.

Tips for team leaders

Honesty

With the ongoing changes and uncertainty surrounding going back to the office, it’s best to remain as open and honest as possible. With this, ask your team for input on what works and what doesn’t. This will ensure your team doesn’t feel blindsided by any changes made which can contribute to their anxiety levels.

Communication

Similarly, make a conscious effort to communicate with your team often to avoid anyone feeling left out. Your team want to feel a part of the process and by including them in the decision-making process, all members of the team will feel catered to – not just what is best for management.

Empathy

It is important to acknowledge that as a team leader you may not know or understand everything a team member is going through. It’s imperative to exercise empathy wherever possible and display a sense of understanding if a team member displays vulnerability or signs of distress.

Going back to the office may not be easy for some, but there are different ways to alleviate the anxiety. One of the most important tools is communication and being open and honest about how you feel. Making efforts to be proactive and engage in conversation can help mitigate these negative effects as we go into yet another transition in our lives. Both team members and team leaders need to address this change through conversation. By speaking to one another, shared experiences and feelings can often alleviate anxious feelings about returning back to the office.

Looking for more mindfulness and mental health advice? Check out more of our tips here.

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