Managing Employee Anxiety as Your Team Returns to the Office Post-COVID

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Managing-Employee-Anxiety-as-Your-Team-Returns-to-the-Office-Post-COVIDWorkplaces are beginning to reopen, which means team members are transitioning back from months of remote working. There’s been a lot of change, so it makes sense that some people may feel overwhelmed. They just finished adjusting to working from home, and now their schedule is changing yet again.

Even as reopenings move forward, many people are also concerned about their safety. The government guidelines say it’s safe to gather in small groups, but is it really? Your team members may have questions about safety procedures. Some may even be reluctant about returning to the workplace.

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Your team members may be quite anxious, which is understandable. Here are some tips for employers who want to manage employee anxiety to help their team members have a smoother transition back to work.

Communicate Safety Measures

Communicating new safety measures can help manage employee anxiety. Have you booked extra cleaning sessions to do deeper sanitizations of the office? Are masks available, along with hand sanitizer, and hand soap in the bathrooms?

Knowing what precautions you’re taking will help the team feel more confident in the office. It may also give them ideas about how they can help make the office a safer place for everyone. This could include physical distancing measures, mandatory masks, or even reminding the team to wipe down equipment (like phones and keyboards) with disinfectant when they’re done for the day.

Be Flexible

Another option you have is to extend remote working options to employees, when possible. Some team members may be able to continue working from home for the time being. Smaller groups are easier to manage indoors, so if not everyone needs to be back in the office yet, don’t force it. You could allow some people to work from home full time, while others can minimize their time in the office.

Of course, some team members will absolutely need to be on-site, but you can offer them flexibility here too. Does everyone need to work the same shift? Can you stagger shifts and working hours to limit the number of people in the workplace? Maybe team members can work one day in the office, and one day from home.

Flexibility is the key here, and it will help your team members manage with more ease and confidence.

Have Clear Procedures

What will you do if someone in the office gets sick? Will you ask employees to be tested on a regular basis? What should an employee do if they, or a loved one, gets sick?

Developing clear policies around these situations now will offer your team members peace of mind. While you hope no one gets sick, everyone will know what to do if it happens. Your team members will know they should stay home, and for how long. You will know what you need to communicate to other employees, as well as testing protocols. You may even develop policies around cleaning and sanitization.

Communicating these plans can help your employees feel more confident. It’s evident you’re taking the situation seriously, and you have a plan for this what-if scenario.

Offer Professional Support

Finally, you can offer your team access to a counsellor or other professional. This is a difficult time for many people, so having the option to connect with a professional will be helpful. You can offer this as part of a benefits program or find another way to provide your employees access to the support they need. While the focus is on physical health and the virus right now, supporting mental health is equally important if you want your team to perform their best.

Communicate, reassure your team, and offer them the support they need. In turn, you’ll see them transition to the office with more ease and confidence. You’ll be back to business as usual in no time.

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Bethany Gallea

I’m the Regional Business Manager of Liberty Staffing Services in Woodstock. I am an experienced manager with over 10 years of customer service, client relations, health and safety, and staffing experience. I have combined experience and training from retail, food and beverage, and staffing industries.

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