Back to work? Feeling anxious?

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As Freedom Day comes and goes, many people will be heading back to the office. Whilst a number of people will be excited to see their colleagues and friends again and will embrace the change in routine, it’s also likely that many will be feeling somewhat nervous going back too.

With this in mind, here are some things to be mindful of as we all go back into our workplaces.

Safety: In England, the current guidance says that employers should complete a Covid-19 risk assessment and take a number of steps to prevent transmission before opening up the workplace. The safety measures are as follows:

  • Minimising unnecessary visitors;
  • Ensuring 2m (6ft) social distancing, or 1m social distancing with additional precautions;
  • Frequent cleaning;
  • Extra hand washing facilities;
  • One-way systems to minimise contact;
  • Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible;
  • Staggering start/end times.

 

If you’re worried that these safety measures aren’t being put in place or adhered to then talk to your line manager. If you don’t feel this is getting you anywhere you can also seek advice from Citizens Advice or Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The HSE can force a firm to take action if they believe that firm is not following guidelines. It is essential you feel safe at work at all times. If you don’t, you need to speak up.

Anxiety: Certainly, there will be many people who feel hesitant to return to work. If you are feeling anxious, the key is to have an open dialogue with your line manager or HR department.

Discuss with your line manager where this anxiety is coming from. Is it uncertainty around what your role might look like in the new normal, a worry about the risk of redundancy or perhaps a fear of contracting and spreading Covid? It is a worry about how you will juggle work and childcare during the summer holidays with fewer holiday clubs and camps opening? Talking about your concerns and discussing your options openly is key. Only then can you look at solutions together that work best for your personal situation. There is no one-size fits all here.

If you are worried about how the last year of isolation has impacted your ability to work with others and socialise, you might discuss doing a few keep in Touch (KIT) days. This would allow you to build up your hours slowly and make the process of getting back to work easier.

If you are apprehensive about taking public transport to work or indeed just being in bigger crowds after trying to socially distance for so long, then consider staggered start times. Getting in later or starting earlier is a great way to counter the crowds and should provide that extra reassurance to get you into the office stress free.

Working together with your line manager or HR to create a collaborative action plan is important. In doing so, you can decide together what is needed to make your return to work less anxiety provoking. If you feel the issue cannot be fixed through collaborative discussion or self-help, then you can also seek professional help. Doing so early on will ensure this doesn’t turn into something bigger.

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