Mental Health Expert David Samson has done his own search to find out at the transition from remote working back into the workplace and the anxiety attached to that, especially in relation to the lifting of restrictions in parts of the UK.
Returning to the office after working from home during the Covid pandemic might feel like a daunting prospect for some people.
After all, we’ve become used to the freedom and flexibility that comes with working remotely. For many of us, it was a great opportunity to get more done or take care of personal tasks without interruption. But what happens when we have to return to the office? This is made even more complicated by the fact that all remaining Covid restrictions in the UK have either already been lifted, or are set to be, by the end of March – which could make people feel relieved that we’re approaching normality, or anxious about what might happen once the restrictions are lifted. Will our anxiety levels spike at the thought of being back in a traditional work environment?
What’s causing this anxiety? Firstly, the effects from the last two years are no surprise to anyone, but it may not just be this. For some people, it might be the fear of being judged by their colleagues or bosses for not being able to seamlessly transition back into a way of working that was once so simple. Others might feel anxious about the idea of returning to a busy and noisy workplace after enjoying the peace and quiet of their own home. And for still others, it might simply be the stress of having to adapt to what is now a new environment after getting used to working on their own terms.
Whatever the reason, it’s clear that many people are feeling anxious about returning to work in an office setting. So what can we do to help ease these fears?
The first step is to recognise that we’re not alone in our feelings. Interestingly, there was little difference between age groups when it came to anxiety levels. A recent survey of people from around the country in this current situation attempted to answer our questions about this, and interestingly, there was little difference between age groups when it came to anxiety levels. 42% of respondents were aged 18-29, and equally, 42% of respondents were aged 30-44, which suggests that any anxiety that could be felt in this situation is not limited to any one demographic group and can affect anyone.
The results further revealed that, for 74% of the respondents, most people did find working from home a much more relaxed experience than being in the office, and therefore were able to achieve much more in their jobs because of this. 67% of respondents would opt for remaining at home to work should the opportunity arise. When it came to returning to work, 41% of people were more than happy to return to the office, but equally, 41% were nervous to do so.
When we asked about the imminent lifting of restrictions, the results weren’t all that far apart. 48% of people are happy for Covid restrictions to be lifted sooner, but 41% of people are not and this has made them more nervous because of this.
What about managing our anxiety? 78% of respondents said that they would seek help with any anxiety, either from HR or a trained professional. 44% of people would be happy to keep some minor restrictions in place for everybody’s safety if it means that others feel safer for it, and 67% would reach out to a colleague should they be struggling with anxiety. These results show that we are willing to take action in order to help each other through this difficult period of transition from working from home back into the office.
So what can we take away from these findings? First of all, it’s clear that working from home has been a positive experience for most people. It’s allowed us to escape the distractions and stress of the traditional workplace and find a more relaxed way of working. Returning to the office may bring with it some anxiety, but for many people it will also represent an opportunity to get back into the swing of things and resume their normal work routine. We just need to make sure we’re prepared for any potential bumps in the road. Finally, if you’re feeling anxious about returning to the office after working remotely, then remember: you’re not alone! Most people are going through something similar and will happily offer their support if you need it.