The Impact of the New Normal
Settling into the rhythm of WFH was challenging for most people. While some of us adjusted quickly, others struggled a bit more. As we move out of the shadow of COVID-19, many workplaces are calling their employees back to work in person.
For some, this comes as a relief. For others, however, it triggers several complicated feelings. Transitioning from one mode of work to another takes time and effort; adjusting and re-adjusting can often be difficult. For example, working from home was a wonderful way to spend time with family (or perhaps a beloved pet). WFH also saved the cost of travel, gave us the freedom from the hassle of dressing up in formals every morning, and allowed us to adopt flexible working hours. In fact, many companies saw a rise in productivity thanks to WFH.
At the same time, WFH had its fair share of problems too. Many people could not find the desired level of peace or quiet at home. Work-life balance took a hit for many, with the line between working and non-working hours quickly blurring.
Returning to How Things Were
The unprecedented pandemic forced many of us to adapt unexpectedly to a new mode of working and living. Times were tough, but we made it through. However, falling back into an old routine can now feel difficult. Our minds are struggling to wade through two realities - pre-pandemic and pandemic. We may technically be in the post-pandemic world now, but letting go of the coping mechanisms and strategies we got used to isn’t as easy as it may seem.
There may have been many losses along the way, which we had suppressed as we worked on autopilot - a beloved work buddy being laid off, colleagues succumbing to coronavirus, or perhaps you yourself were forced to switch to a new job amid the pandemic-induced recession, and now find yourself struggling to come to terms with the fact that work.
Although we’re returning to work in person, we cannot deny the after-effects of the pandemic. The danger of contracting infections from your colleagues or in public transport never goes away, making many feel anxious about going to work every day.
So if you don’t find yourself jumping for joy at the thought of going back to work, you’re not alone. Many people are wary of returning to their workplace. Fear of getting ill and/or compromising the health of vulnerable family members at home, confusion about finding someone to stay home with the kids, or anxiety about adjusting with coworkers in a shared space again - there are multiple reasons why you might be experiencing anxiety about going back to work.
Transitioning To Work In Person
While returning to work may seem difficult, we must remember how resilient we have been over the last few years. By following some basic tips, we can get into the rhythm of working in person again! Some of these tips are listed below.
Be Aware of Your Anxiety
During this transition, some people might find themselves overwhelmed by anxiety. Some choose to talk about it, while others may feign confidence. Some may not even be aware that they’re experiencing it. However, repressed anxiety can show up in other ways, such as being irritable, fidgety, rigid, aggressive, and unable to relax. Whether you choose to keep your anxiety to yourself or share it with others, it’s important you are aware of it. When we know how we’re feeling, we can better control our emotions.
Be Patient and Flexible With Yourself and Others
Unfamiliar situations are difficult for everyone, no matter their position. If you frequently find yourself feeling anxious about going back to work, give some time to yourself as well as your company. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to settle in as soon as you would've ideally liked to. Give your organisation some benefit of the doubt if it takes them a couple of tries to get things right.
Given how unprecedented all of it has been, try to focus more on how open they are to considering their employees’ interests rather than holding them to standards of perfection when it comes to implementing this transition.
Focus on What Truly Matters
There’s no way to know what might happen in the next few months or how stable the current circumstances genuinely are. Such things always have been and will be out of our control. Focusing too much on them will only aggravate the employees’ anxiety.
Instead, try to spend your time on the things that are more immediate - making your workspace feel as calming and welcoming as possible, forming close bonds with your colleagues, communicating your concerns to your boss or HR, and most importantly, preserving the quality of your work as well as your mental peace. There’s a fair chance that your fears aren’t yours alone, and you may find your workmates silently working through the same anxieties. A warm, trusting environment can reduce workplace anxiety and make the transition easier for everyone involved.
We hope these tips help you work through your anxiety about going back to work in person. If you feel that your worries run deeper than you initially thought and are still wondering, “how do I stop feeling anxious about work?”, we’re here for you! You can check out Rocket Health’s services and connect with experienced, non-judgmental professionals to make your transition easier!