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With more people getting their COVID-19 vaccines, companies around Europe are preparing to open their offices again. However, many employees are feeling anxious about returning to the office. Here at EURES, we have prepared some tips to help with that.
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Feeling anxious about returning to the office is perfectly normal. Whether you are concerned for your health or that of someone in your household, you are dreading the long commute to work, or you have simply gotten used to working from home – back-to-office anxiety should not be taken lightly. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health. So if you are feeling apprehensive about returning to work, we have prepared a few tips to help smooth your transition.

Do not suppress your feelings

Sometimes when we feel anxious about work, we are embarrassed because we think we are the only ones feeling this way. It is important not to suppress your anxiety, but to face it and try to understand its source. This does not mean you should concentrate on your negative feelings. Confronting your fears and understanding them is the first step to tackling them.

Prepare for the new working conditions

Things may be returning back to normal, but that does not mean your work environment will be the same as before the pandemic. There may be changes in place to keep employees safe, such as social distancing rules and mandatory face masks. It might take a few days or weeks to get used to working in this new environment, and this might make you feel more tired than usual at the end of the workday.

Sustain a good work−life balance

Working from home may have its disadvantages, but many people report that it has greatly improved their work−life balance and wellbeing. Do not let returning to the office affect your daily routine. For example, if you are used to taking a stroll at lunchtime, stick to this routine despite your ‘new’ workplace, and try to finish work on time whenever possible.

Identify your stress signals

Stress has physical manifestations on the body, such as clenched jaw, tense shoulders and back, or chest breathing. If you feel stressed at the office, take a minute to identify these signals, take a few deep breaths, and relax and stretch that part of your body.

Spread positivity

Make an effort to be a source of positivity for your colleagues. You may find this difficult at first, but you will soon realise that this is as beneficial for them as it is for you. This approach will help you focus on the positive aspects of returning to the office and not dwell on negative scenarios.

Explore the option for flexible working

Find out what your company’s policy is on flexible working. You might be able to agree with your employer on a hybrid approach where you only work from the office a few days a week. You could also discuss shifting your working hours to avoid morning/evening traffic.

Do not be afraid to ask for help

If you are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and need help, ask Human Resources about any mental health/wellbeing programmes available to you. Do not hesitate to also reach out to your doctor or another health professional for support.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in many ways, particularly at work. Work schedules, tools, environments and priorities have been impacted by the health crisis. Check out this article to find out why working in 2021 could be different.

 

Related links:

How the pandemic might affect the world of work in 2021

 

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01/06/2021

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