It’s been approximately 1 ½ years since office workers were asked to leave their offices and work from home due to the pandemic. For some, it was like a shock to their system as they enjoyed the camaraderie they shared with their co-workers, gave them a chance to find purpose in having a place to go, and accomplish their work away from the demands of home life. They also enjoyed the familiarity of a routine and were able to identify what was expected of them in their role.
For others, it was like a breath of fresh air. No more wrestling with morning traffic, frenzied departure of dropping kids at school, worries about what to wear and having the ability to perform their professional responsibilities in the comfort of their homes.
Adapting to these changes meant people had to work through online virtual platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and it became the new model for interacting with co-workers and direct reports. To avoid online fatigue, it was sometimes necessary to exercise the option of turning off the camera so that they could perform other functions and give their eyes a rest.
As the Pandemic has become more managed, large companies are now starting to transition their workforce back into the office and employees are having to readjust their thinking to return to in person work expectations. Undoubtably there will be some significant changes in the way business was conducted pre COVID.
- Some employees may be asked to incorporate a hybrid model where they are required to work 2 days a week in the office and work from home the remaining 3 days. This will help make the transition back to the workplace flow more smoothly and still allow an employee the flexibility and freedom of staying home to work, avoiding all the preparations needed to go to work full time.
- Some employees may be asked to go back to work full time and not have the option of remaining at home for work. This could cause some feelings of injustice as some workers are allowed to continue working from home and others are required to be in person at the office. It’s important to consider that the needs of the business are being assessed as each departments functions and responsibilities require different levels of workforce being present to help the business operate efficiently.
- For some employees, the idea of leaving their homes and returning to work is frightening given the still active contagious Delta virus, so they may be resistant to return. Additionally, many companies are requiring proof of vaccination which has become a highly debated matter and some workers are choosing not to get vaccinated or wear masks for personal reasons. This is presenting a problem for companies as they are having to enforce policies for the welfare of all employee’s safety and health.
- When employees do return to their offices, they may find their workspace has changed. What used to be cubicles right next to each other may now be reconfigured to accommodate the 6 Ft distancing guidelines required universally. Meetings may continue to be virtual to avoid large amounts of people being in a room simultaneously.
- Dining room protocols may have changed with less people allowed at a table and less menu options available due to a shrunken workforce and supply chain food shortages affecting the ability to purchase goods.
Overall, it is bound to cause some anxiety and stress as change often effects people differently. It is best to focus on the familiar and understand that although employees may have felt some control working remotely from home, the work has probably remained the same, requiring the same skills and knowledge to perform. There are now more answers about COVID and guidelines are in place to help make the process of working in an office feel safer and more manageable.
Cathy is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern at Simply Brave. She is motivated to help people find the answers they are looking for to enjoy happiness, find hope and regain personal strength.