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How To Prepare Americans for Return To Office Post COVID-19 Pandemic

Okay, now that the pandemic is over-ish — it’s time to come back to the office! But are Americans prepared?

After a year of working from home for most Americans whose workplaces shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s no longer a question of when to return but how prepared are employees to return to the office.

This is according to a recent announcement by the National Public Radio on June 7, 2021. The statement from the federal government—the country’s largest employer—requiring that the White House employees return to work by July 1, 2021.

Additionally, the Biden administration has also requested other federal employees to prepare for what is referred to as the “safe reentry of employees to the physical workplace” by July 19, 2021, now that the coronavirus pandemic is on a downward trend spiral in America.

While some already are returning into the offices as more people get vaccinated, it seems that some are not ready for the 9-5 office lifestyle, with a reported 42% of the U.S. labor force already having identified the “working from the home economy” as their ideal choice for pursuing their careers.

So why are Americans reluctant to return to work?

Apart from the lockdowns (which have since been eased in the U.S.), many employees were laid off but provided enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus checks. These benefits have provided Americans with a cushion to rethink their careers, especially now living in an information and gig economy.

The reality is, it won’t be a cut-and-dried process because it’s totally a new ballgame we’ve not experienced until now—similar to just sending employees to remote work from their bedroom, kitchen table, bathroom, and so on.
Now that American’s have due dates for returning to the office, some of you are still struggling with the thought of leaving their safety at home and go work in an environment that is still filled with uncertainties.

But you’re not alone since, as suggested by a recent Pew Research Centre research, of the 71% currently working from home, 54% still insist that they would like to continue working from home even after the Covid-19 pandemic end.

Lucky for you, we’ve shared some helpful tips that can help you make the transition process from home back to the office less successful this post-pandemic.

Where exactly is the stress coming from?

First, it’s normal for us to feel apprehensive about returning to the office. According to clinical psychologist Dr. Susan Albers, we’ve been in our safety pods for over a year. As such, it’s possible to experience what she terms as “reentry anxiety,” which falls under two major types.

The first form of “reentry anxiety” that employees are feelings pertains to their own safety. People are worried that once they leave their home and return to the office, they might contract Coronavirus and be continue spreading it.

The second source of “reentry anxiety” is social interactions. Following the strict social distancing rules for the past year, a lot has changedin how we’ve been interacting with others, meeting, looking them into their eyes, or engaging in everyday talks.

While Dr.Albers adds that being anxious can be beneficial in some circumstances, when we feel too much anxiety, it can paralyze us to an extent we can’t function.

Pro Tips on How you Can Preparing to Return to Office

Below are some helpful tips that we’ve shared from clinical psychologists that can help you prepare a safe and stress-free return to your office.

  • Tip #1: Visit the Workplace before the official date

First, Dr. Albers advises that you walk through the situations you might encounter at your office to feel more comfortable. She adds that imagery is a powerful tool for helping people cope with anxiety-filled scenarios. This would allow you to be emotionally charged up.

Additionally, it is crucial that you can conduct a dry run before the due date for returning to work. She recommends that you visit the office earlier, walks around the office, and even sit in your chair.

Keep in mind that many have changed over the past year, so you don’t expect everything to be the same as you left it a year ago.

  • Tip #2: Clean –up the Workspace

While you’re still around your office, do some refreshing g on your workspace given the fact that you’ve been away for over a year. A clean, pleasing, and organized workspace is good for your mental health and can reduce stress. Also, be sure to bring a plant to your workspace as it can reduce stress too.

  • Tip #3: Create a better sleeping schedule

For over a year, you didn’t commute, and you probably had a few minutes to prepare for zoom meetings. But managing your family might have made to be sleeping late in the night.

Having to return to the office means you’ll be having a typical working day again. Ensure you readjust your sleep schedule so that you don’t find yourself dozing off in-person meetings.

  • Tip #4: Dealing with safety concerns and mistrust

Bear in might that we work in an increasingly diverse workplace. That means you could have seen one of your coworkers promoting the conspiracy theories, or they are antivaccine.

Obviously, it stinks knowing that your workmate has not been observing Covid-19 safety protocols. You automatically don’t trust them!

If you find yourself in such a workplace, you can bring along your hand sanitizer and keep putting on your mask to protect yourself.

And most importantly, you can make it clear that you’re still practicing safety protocols. However, be sure you have got the right words to use in that you can feel gentle to your colleagues. You simply tell them that “I’m still social distancing while taking a step back.”

Still, you can create physical, social distance using objects and body language. Remember, it okay to feel frightened since we’ve not yet overcome the virus completely.