After months of working from home, businesses have been given the green light to return to the workplace, in most cases this will include bringing your employees back to the office. We know that this could be emotionally challenging. Many of us have become accustomed to working from home and the change to our working environments. Below we will share with you some ways that you can support your staff during what could be an emotionally stressful time.
We need to consider how returning to the office may affect our employees. Some might find the change in routine quite stressful and emotional. Consider that their routines may have changed and will again need to start getting up earlier, making the commute to work and finding childcare. They may also be missing out on those lunchtime workouts and dog walks that they may have used to break up their working day and relieve tension.
You will need to be empathetic to these lifestyle changes your team are having to make and look at ways of flexible working to support your team.
Some could find re-implementing communication face to face could be a big change. People may still be wary of the virus’s ongoing health threat and we all respond to anxiety differently. Ensuring that PPE equipment is provided, work spaces are kept tidy & clean and social distancing guidelines are implemented will help to relieve some of the anxieties your staff may be feeling.
Spend some time reconnecting with your team members on a 1-2-1 basis, check in with them more frequently and ask them how they are doing. Ask them about their families and any worries or challenges they have about returning to work. By doing this, you can support them in overcoming these. Include some team building into team meetings to encourage more social interaction and team camaraderie to let people know that ‘we are all in this together’.
Be prepared to be kind and patient. The mental health impacts of COVID will continue to impact us as individuals. Using emotional intelligence to be understanding and empathetic with people will help make the transition back to the office easier and less pressurised.
How can we self-manage returning to the office?
After spending so much time in the office, working alone, being back in a busy and vibrant office could be overwhelming. Consider giving yourself little breaks throughout the day to help reduce your stress levels. Use your breaks to take a walk outside or pop in some headphones and your choice of music and enjoy a coffee in peace. If flexible working is an option, start earlier when the office is likely to be quieter. You could also consider changing your hours to work later in the day when most people have left the office, where this is an option.
Getting back to being with your colleagues may lead you to think about the things that people do that irritate you. Before returning to the office consider how you can respond to these situations without letting it bother you, to avoid those difficult conversations.
Most importantly try and include some time during your day to still do the things you enjoyed about working from home, like the 30 minutes of yoga in the morning before sitting at your desk. Pay attention to self-care and try out relaxation techniques, making sleep a priority. Doing these things will ease your stress and anxiety and help make the return to the office easier and less daunting.
If you would like some advice on colleagues returning to work, the impact of furlough or how to support flexible working don’t hesitate to contact us.