Like everything there’s always 2 sides to the coin. Working from home has had its pros and cons:
- Easier Commutes
- You can walk a few steps to your fridge regularly for snack top ups
- Screen Fatigue
- Disconnection from others
- Blurred boundaries
- You can easily zoom call your team from the bathroom by accident
Although some might have enjoyed this fully remote period, as all employees are starting to be welcomed back to the office it’s becoming more apparent that employers need to recognise that this might be tough for some, and they need to offer support.
According to a recent survey by McKinsey, one-third of respondents said their return to work has had a negative impact on their mental health. Almost half of those who have not yet returned are anticipating negative health impacts. The Pandemic has been a stressful and anxiety inducing time for a lot of employees – so much change and so little control has led to employee burnout and mental distress. Employers must realise that although a return to the workplace can be seen as a positive step in the right direction, with the virus and its variants still very much present, this return may very well cause another wave of stress and anxiety for their workforce.
Employers will no doubt give this a lot of thought and craft ‘return to office’ plans that will support their staff. However, that bit is really out of the individual’s control. So what can we, as employees, do directly to help us navigate through these ever changing times? Our exclusive Happiness Expert has compiled 5 key tips and advice to avoiding return-to-office burnout.
1. Set Your Boundaries
No doubt there will be an uneasy excitement about getting back to the office – with some people potentially bouncing back and fitting into the previous norm of coming in each day, chatting at each others’ desks, going for coffee and gossiping at the coffee machine. Just because your friends and peers are comfortable stepping back in time, does not mean that you are. Set your own boundaries – identify what it is that you feel comfortable with. Speak with your Manager directly – you might feel better taking this return to office at a slower pace – discuss your concerns and clearly suggest a workaround that makes sense for you. Don’t feel like you need to bounce back as quickly as others – take this adjustment at your own pace and know that it is normal for people to be operating at different speeds.
2. Create a schedule that fits with your new norm
We have all gone through a huge amount of change, and for many of us we had never before worked 100% remotely and from our own homes. We had to adjust to the new norm and with this our lifestyles and schedules also had to change. Acknowledge that change – you are not stepping back in time – things have changed and you can’t be expected to be able to adhere to the exact same schedule that you had over 2 years ago. You might have new responsibilities that you need to be at home for, you might have learned to prioritise your well-being with classes and mindful moments now scheduled into your day to help you get the most from your work. Identify what your new schedule looks like and see how to continue this while also factoring in time at the office. If you have new boundaries, if you are no longer eating lunch at your desk, if you are not available to stay late off the clock, then make sure that you don’t.
3. Look at this with a fresh perspective
Try to look at the positives and try to look forward, rather than backwards. It’s very easy to concern yourself with what happened or what might be around the corner but try to focus on the here and now. Focus on putting one step in front of the other. Make a list of all the things that you missed from not being in the office; the people you could talk to and learn from, the brainstorming and white boarding sessions you could book in the boardroom, the routine and the familiarity of knowing that when you stepped away to go home, you could leave your work behind you for the night. Look at how you can reintroduce these positives back into your working day. Look at ways to make your ‘new norm’ work to your advantage and see if you can benefit from being back with the gang – networking, problem solving and connecting. By focusing on the positives and being grateful for what you do have, you can be sure to enjoy this experience much more.
4. Know your limitations and needs
With all that said – life has changed and you have been through a lot. We all have – and some more than others. Going back to the office might not be something that you feel ready to do. And that is okay. You need to put your well-being first. You need to be your own best friend and you owe it to yourself to know your own limitations and needs. If you just don’t feel ready then reach out and let your manager or HR group know. If you feel like you need to speak with someone then talk to your GP or book a session with a therapist through your health insurance. It’s okay to not be okay – if this pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we really need to slow down, and mind ourselves – physically and mentally. This experience has shown us just how strong we can be; reaching out to speak to someone professional is such a brave and strong thing to do so make sure that you get the help and support that you need.
5. Prioritise your well-being and maintain a healthy work life balance
If we have learned anything from this we have learned that life is fleeting, our circumstances can change at the drop of a hat and we need to prioritise our health and view it as a privilege. The best gift that you can give yourself is the gift of self-care. By introducing healthy habits and mindful moments throughout our days, we can make great steps to preserving our energy and performing to our best abilities, in work and beyond. This is not a one size fits all solution. What you need and want is very different to what I might need or want. There are scientifically proven benefits to activities and tools that we can introduce into our daily lives which can have a hugely positive effect on our well-being in work and beyond. At a high level, focus on 4 key pillars; Movement, Mindfulness, Nutrition and Happiness – try to introduce a tool or activity for each of these pillars every day. At CRAOI we offer a holistic approach to well-being by focusing on these four pillars with the underlying goal of improving our energy, productivity, creativity and sleep, so that we can be prepared for all the life throws at us and enjoy this crazy ride! Schedule some time throughout your day to prioritise your well-being; go for a walk on your lunch break, take breaks to boost your productivity and creativity, use the 5:2:7 breathwork technique to calm your nerves before a big meeting, focus on fuelling your body with the right nutrition for energy and focus, identify your unique character strengths and use them to improve your morale at work, connect with others, do a yoga class together, share what your grateful for as a group to kick start your team meetings. There are so many ways that you can introduce small mindful moments and healthy habits into your day – the first step is making the time for them and all else will follow.
As we begin to see WFH restrictions ease over the coming weeks, remember that it’s okay to take this at your own pace and push-back where you need to. I hope these tips can help and if you need any further support or have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
Clodagh is a certified Health & Wellness Coach, a qualified Yoga Teacher and the Happiness Expert for CRAOI. She is also a co-founder of CRAOI; a business born at the beginning of the Pandemic, focusing on helping individuals restore and maintain their work-life balance and improve their well-being in work and beyond. CRAOI’s unique and innovative well tech solution offers personalisation, goal setting, trackers, well-being assessments, recommended work life balance plans and much more. Upon joining, members get access to a catalog of on-demand content, live classes and tools across our 4 holistic well-being pillars. CRAOI also offers a community so that you can connected with others and help keep each other accountable on your journeys.
Join the CRAOI community today on Instagram ‘@craoi_theory’, LinkedIn ‘CRAOI’ and stay tuned for the launch of the official CRAOI website and member platform & technology.