Employees develop cold feet as they return to their offices

City COVID-19

Realization that Covid is not over is a major worry

People are anxious as they return to their offices after a year and a half of working online.

Mohit Kumar, a 22-year-old employee at an IT company, informed The Observer: “I felt anxious at the thought of going back to the office. But my office had many recreational activities on Saturdays that helped me cope up with the stress. I think it wasn’t just the fear of interacting again that bothered me, but also that Covid is not over yet. Offices opening with full capacity made me feel uncomfortable.”

Sahil Chodhary, 23, a coder with a startup, shared: “I worked from home for six months and then was asked to join the office offline. That is when I started feeling anxious. Socialising again felt very difficult. I was stressed about how I would be able to work efficiently after spending so much time in the comfort of my home.” said.

Rahul Parashar, 26, an executive with a logistics company said: “The company has meetings where our seniors give us motivational speeches, and we have recreational activities like games and all which can help us in busting stress.”

Facing a similar issue at her workplace, Arokiya Mary Samson, Human Resource lead at Flam, an IT company in Bengaluru, observed: “The pandemic has created problems for everyone. Employees were under so much stress. They were putting in extra hours to complete work and there is also the fear of losing jobs.”

As an HR lead, and on the company’s behalf, she wanted to ensure that the employees did not feel they were alone. “We had game sessions, Netflix shows were streamed, and we sent hampers to help them release the stress and socialize with everyone. We also provided oneon onesessions to those who were having a difficult time,”

Dr Sumithra Sridhar, a senior therapist at Heart it Out, a Bengaluru-based mental health organization, said: “The reason behind this kind of stress is the trauma that the pandemic has had on us. It is something that has changed our lives forever. People have lost a lot during this time, so going back to a place, meeting those people again and recounting what happened to them or maybe their friends or family brings back a lot of trauma. The pandemic has also taught us that many things can be done online, from the comfort of our homes, so one doesn’t have to spend so much time on other things, say commuting. So it is out of convenience that we might choose to stay home. Other than that, we have forgotten how to be human at this point.”

 The fear of socializing again could be the reason for employees’ stress,. she added. It is very important to acknowledge this feeling. People must know that what they are going through is very real. “Take baby steps, think about what can help you. Is it something you can deal with on your own, or is it something that you need help with? Lastly, don’t force yourself to socialize or do anything that you don’t want to.”

After living in isolation for more than a year, returning to normal feels like a huge task. Employees around the globe are facing the same issue. The University of California, in a report, offered insights into how people can deal with the issue. The report advised people facing such stress to think about what they like about their work, to try to engage in activities, and to get professional help if needed.

A global survey by Limeade, a US-based organization that works for employee welfare, found that the biggest reason for back-to-work anxiety is Covid-19 exposure and reduced flexibility.



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