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Anxious About Going Back Into The Office? Here Are Ways To Cope

After more than a year of working remotely, many people have concerns about returning to the office and the life that the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly changed. But as more and more people become vaccinated, many businesses are calling their employees back into the office, and for some, with that call comes a dose of anxiety.

Sure, some may be relishing the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues in-person and swap out that makeshift home office at our kitchen table for a dedicated workspace, but many are nervous about the future. Thankfully, there are ways to help cope with the stress of change…

What does the future of the office look like?

Since the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been wondering how businesses would be impacted. Well, according to a new global survey, the pandemic has caused an abrupt shift in people’s desires when it comes to work.

An Ipsos survey for the World Economic Forum among 12,500 employed people in 29 countries found that 66% of people want flexible working to become the norm. And almost a third (30%) said they would consider looking for another job if they were forced to go back to the office full time. Interestingly, support for returning to the office full time was strongest in Mexico – where 40% of respondents said they were ready to be back in the office.

With all these unknown and different opinions, here are a few things to consider to help you navigate this tumultuous time:

Be graceful with yourself and others.

The last year and a half has brought with it an immense amount of change and each of us is experiencing it in a different way. Despite our best efforts, mistakes are going to be made. Give yourself space to be patient and understanding with yourself and others as we all work to find our way to “the new new.”

Talk to your coworkers and employer.

Remember you’re not going through this alone. Find ways to chat with your coworkers and your boss about the reality of the situation. If you’re comfortable in being vulnerable, find ways to productively share your emotions and fears associated with the future. Let people know what you need so they can help.

Prepare yourself in advance.

Many of us have been out of the office routine for over a year so we’re likely to be nervous. it helps to plan ahead to gain a sense of control over the uncertain future — perhaps by revisiting your work wardrobe, dusting off your daily planner, or looking up some new recipes for lunch-on-the-go.

If you’re in a leadership position, don’t be afraid of over-communicating.

Whenever you’re anxious, you’re going to fill any silence with noise and that’ll lead to even more stress. Don’t let your team take any open space and fill it with anxiety or doubt. Make extra time and effort to communicate early and often. It may feel like you’re overdoing it but you’re not. Remember that most people appreciate being a part of the process and want to feel like they’re in the know, so figure out a plan to get them included.

Don’t ignore the warning signs of stress.

At some point, someone on your team (or you) may start to feel overwhelmed and have significant challenges returning to the ‘new normal.’ They may be sending out subtle signals that they are in distress. Your role as leader will require that you be tuned in to yourself and your team.

It may sound simple but, breathe.

If stress or anxiety is getting the best of you, sometimes the best thing you can do is simply stop and remember to breathe. There are plenty of fantastic resources out there to help guide you in learning how to take a pause, breathe, and recenter yourself.

Don’t be afraid to get help.

There may come a time when the pressure or anxiety becomes too much. You need to be honest with yourself and acknowledge that it may be time to reach out to someone who can assist.

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