How to manage back to office anxiety.
Although a lot of companies went through a return-to-work process in September many people once again left offices and started to work from home after to the government announcement of Plan B rules in December.
It may feel like we have gone back in time as HR professionals and Line Managers as we are now dealing with the same task of getting people back into the office. It’s important to remember that even though we have done this before people have most likely settled back into the routine of exclusively working from home and in some cases staying in 100% of the time to avoid the virus.
Coming back to the workplace is going to be a daunting and anxiety inducing process for a lot of people and employers need to acknowledge this and put measures in place to support their people.
Here are our top tips to manage back to work anxiety:
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Keep an open and honest line of communication between Line Managers, HR, and staff. Create a safe environment where people really feel listened to and heard when speaking about the worries of returning to the workplace. There could be some people that looked forward to retuning to the office after lockdown in 2021 but may be dreading coming back into the workplace this time. Starting to discuss the subject of coming back as early as possible will enable the maximum amount of time for your people to express their concerns and for you to come up with realistic solutions to eliminate any fears.
Update your risk assessment and include any changes if needed, to make your workplace more Covid safe and send out to the whole organisation so they’re aware of what measures are being taken to keep them safe. Make sure the office is clean and well stocked with tea, coffee and any other supplies that will offer and support a smooth transition for your people coming back to the office.
Remember that there could be some anxiety around using public transport, sitting at a desk close to another or just being around so many people, all at once. Be as flexible as you can and offer later start times or early finishes to minimise busy travel times. If possible, suggest half days so people can ease their way back into office life, or if there are meetings rooms available offer them to people who feel they need a bit more space.
Be present for your people and offer as much support as you can. Offering sincere support is the most effective way to ensure that your people are happy and comfortable at work. Also make sure that any external support such as EAPs and other helplines are visible and are easily accessible to everyone.