Secret staff: How do employees feel about returning to the office after Covid-19?

Written by Secret Staff
Aug 11, 2021

Secret staff are real, anonymous employees discussing their mental health experiences at work

As lockdown restrictions have now ended, the government recommends a gradual return to workplaces. However, the majority of the UK’s largest employers are not planning to bring their team back into the office on a full-time basis and 76% of businesses expect hybrid working to become more common.

In this blog, a real employee shares their experience of how they are feeling after returning to the office after Covid-19.

Having recently returned to the office, with the new variants of Covid-19, I do feel nervous and anxious about going to work and possibly bringing Covid-19 home with me. At the beginning of the pandemic, two of my family members contracted Covid-19, which contributed to my feelings of anxiety. Whilst I was working from home for 15 months, I felt shielded from Covid-19 and safe and in that I was able to minimise my contacts.


I don’t know how my colleagues are behaving outside of work

Now that I’ve returned to the office, I have stepped out of my comfort zone, by travelling to work and into a place where there are other people. I understand that everyone has been affected by the pandemic differently and this impacts how people behave. I do not know how my colleagues are behaving outside of work or how they’re travelling into work and if they’re following Covid-19 guidance. However, I do have a great relationship with my manager, and I have been able to discuss my concerns which has also helped.

Throughout the pandemic I have felt extremely cautious, but this has subsided slightly as I have now received both of my vaccinations, which was a momentous occasion for me. This now provides me with a degree of reassurance and security and makes me feel more confident in being around people.

 

For advice on how start mental health conversations at work, download our free guide on talking to employees about their mental health.

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I enjoy the social interaction with my colleagues

Even though I was anxious about returning to the office after Covid-19, I am enjoying the social interaction with my colleagues. I am very much a people person and I missed getting a coffee and having a little chat. It is also much harder to build relationships with colleagues virtually. Even though I enjoyed the flexibility that working from home brings, having a routine of getting up and going to work again has also had a positive impact on my mental health and wellbeing. I did feel isolated at times whilst working from home and returning to the office has also bought a sense of returning to normality.


The pandemic has changed the ways of working in my organisation

I do feel as if I have a personal responsibility for protecting myself and others as much as possible now, I’ve returned to the office. The organisation I work for has put strict Covid-19 protocols in place to ensure that all the team minimise the risk of transmission, which provides me with confidence. We are advised to wear a mask when we are not seated at our desks, but we can remove them when we are eating or drinking. We are also advised to wear masks in meetings, and meetings are kept to a minimum in terms of frequency and numbers attending. All meeting attendees need to adhere to social distancing guidelines. All windows must be open, the entire office is regularly cleaned, and hand sanitisers and antibacterial cleaning items are available at numerous points throughout. As I work in a large building all the team desks have been distributed sparsely throughout the building and we have installed new signage and one-way systems. We also have weekly testing in place, which provides reassurance that the organisation is doing the upmost to keep both customers and employees safe.

The pandemic has changed the ways of working in the organisation as there is no longer a requirement for so many face-to-face meetings and meetings are held virtually wherever possible. I also have the balance and flexibility of working in the office on a part time basis, where the remainder of the week will be spent working from home.

 

Help your staff transition back into a workplace environment

It’s important to remember that lockdown has affected everyone differently and it’s essential to address individual needs and remember that while returning to work after lockdown may be a welcome change for some, others may understandably have some anxieties.

Overall, the best way to transition your team back to a more resilient and productive team is to open lines of communication. For more advice on how start those conversations, download our free guide on talking to employees about their mental health.

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Topics: Mental health & wellbeing

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