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Brief Published: 19 Aug 2020

How to Calm Anxious Workers Returning to the Office


As offices reopen, employers need to be mindful of the effect lockdown has had on their staff's mental health. We track the emerging concerns facing workplace re-occupancy and how companies can provide workers with support and peace of mind.

  • Addressing Anxieties: A recent survey has found that 44% of UK employees feel anxious about returning to the office space after months of working from home (WFH) (CIPD, 2020). This trend is replicated across the Atlantic, where only 21.6% of US workers feel positive about re-entering the workplace (The Wellbeing Lab, 2020). One solution is a phased return; more than half (52.9%) of US workers who visited their workplace, often during the last few months, feel positive about the transition back into the office (The Wellbeing Lab, 2020). Don’t be tempted to force workers back as soon as possible; allowing employees to choose the pace of their return is a sure-fire way to help build confidence. 
  • Minding the Multi-Gen Office: While more attuned to communicating virtually, Gen Z (born 1996-2009) and millennial (born 1995-1981) employees have struggled with remote working – 31% of these demographics find WFH stressful, compared with 29% of Gen X (born 1965-1980) and 23% of boomers (born 1946-1964) (Gensler, 2020). Younger workers also report getting less work done at home (25%) than their older counterparts (20% and 16% respectively) (Gensler, 2020). Rethink your one-size-fits-all re-occupancy plan; embrace flexible working so employees can opt for the working style that suits their needs.
  • Rebranding Benefits: Workplace perks such as free food and on-site gym memberships have become redundant during mass WFH. As 79% of businesses have noted an increase in requests for mental health support from employees since the outbreak of Covid-19 (Unmind, 2020), brands would be wise to provide remote wellbeing services. See Leisure & Wellness in Lockdown for psychological health initiatives that can bolster workforce morale.

Look out for The Future Office: How & Where We’ll Work, publishing on August 26, for more on the demands and designs for safe office working.