How To Deal With Pressure To Go Back Into The Office As Covid Lockdowns Ease

With COVID-19 vaccines picking up speed, some workers may feel a sense of pressure to return to the office more than how they should be.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, an increasing number of companies have accepted sweeping changes brought in by the coronavirus pandemic, with most employees being compelled to work from home. This has opened up new opportunities for how people work in the future.

Employees are choosing to work from home or outside of the workplace thanks to businesses like Spotify and Salesforce. While many companies still doubt this is a long-term shift, other employers are challenging the notion that this may be a permanent change.

And at other firms, employees are expected to spend at least a set number of days in the office each week. Conceptually, this may cause employees to feel pushed to get to the office more often than the prescribed number, given that their colleagues have been staying later to work off guilt from the virus.

According to specialists, this worry may be addressed by taking the necessary steps.

‘Presenteeism’

Occupational health psychologist Gail Kinman (of Birkbeck University of London) commented in a phone interview with CNBC, saying, “The bigger part of the problem is that working from home often prompts individuals to have to earn trust.”

According to Kinman, more inexperienced individuals, especially those who have recently joined a firm, could be more worried about this since they are unfamiliar with the organization's culture.

In essence, she said it was a similar sensation to “FOMO” (fear of missing out), referring to the anxiety colleagues can have that they are at risk of not being promoted and being left behind by colleagues who are returning to work.

A approach to reduce anxiety caused by this issue was to confide in coworkers and seek peer support on the matter.

Employment consultant Ellie Green said on CNBC that “staff should be brave enough to talk to human resources departments and managers about their preferences.”

She also said that employees must establish clear work/home boundaries to avoid feeling the need to be accessible all the time due to email pings or notifications on platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Presenteeism is related to when you are ill and coming to work. While in certain circles this may be seen as a sign of employees putting in “face time” before management, it might also be seen as the culture of workers spending longer hours in the office, even if they aren't particularly productive, as a method of showing their face to their superiors.

According to Carina Cortez, Glassdoor's chief people officer, the fact that workers have adjusted their expectations regarding work patterns due to recent events was to be expected.

“In addition, she stated that it was critical for employees who are stressed about getting back to the workplace to make their voice known and offer any feedback they can to ensure that employers have a variety of perspectives on going back to the office.”

According to Cortez, both operational and social benefits exist when colleagues meet in person, and, if employees feel compelled to return to the office more frequently than they'd want, it may be an indication that the workplace is poorly suited to them.

In an email to CNBC, LinkedIn U.K. national manager Janine Chamberlin noted that employers bear the duty of assuring presenteeism doesn't become a problem in the future.

She added, “In order to cut presenteeism, businesses need to build on the trust that has been created when people work remotely.” 

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