26/09/2021

Returning to work: How to support anxious staff and minimise workplace stress

workplace stress

As global coronavirus restrictions start to lift, you’ve probably started to consider getting your workforce back into the office.

But have you also considered staff that may be feeling stressed or anxious about this change?

Some of the worries that staff may have in relation to returning to the office can include:

  • Worries about catching COVID-19
  • Worries about mixing with lots of people again
  • Anxiety around doing their job again in an office environment
  • Anxiety around potential changes in the workplace
  • Worries about leaving their current remote work routine

As a manager, there are various ways you can support your staff with these worries as you plan to return to office working.

Focus on the positives of returning to work

There are plenty of good positives to getting back to the office, so make sure to focus on them when you’re communicating your plans to your workforce.

Some of the many positives include:

  • Being able to separate your work and home life again
  • Getting to be around colleagues again
  • Being able to talk face-to-face and not having to rely on Zoom and emails
  • Getting back into an office routine which a lot of staff will have missed

Let your employees have a say

Don’t assume that all of your staff are happy about coming back to the office – a lot of people may find they actually prefer working from home.

To support staff, let them have a say about potential new ways of working. You can ask them what their favourite aspect of working from home was, and explore ways to implement this in the office.

For example, staff may have enjoyed the flexibility and comfort of working from home so an easy solution could be to implement flexible working hours and dress-down days.

Make changes to your workplace

A lot of people may be anxious about catching COVID-19 and being back in a busy office, so make sure to have extra precautions in place to make employees feel safe.

Things that you could incorporate are additional handwashing facilities and screens between desks to reduce contact between staff.

Start slowly

Don’t expect employees to bounce back straight away, it’s been a long time since they’ve been in an office environment.

Start off slow with a hybrid model of working to ease them back into office life, you can do this by asking staff to come in a couple of days a week at first before coming back to the office full time.


Also published on Medium.

Written by
Scott Dylan
Join the discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scott Dylan

I’m Scott Dylan, Fresh Thinking Group Founder and Partner. I oversee the strategic direction of the company, which I created to help, acquire and invest in both distressed and viable companies together with helping businesses improve their business processes and setting strategic directions.