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How to overcome "Back-to-the-Office anxiety"

18 June

Montreal Careers - How to overcome

Written by Lauranne Ratovo, Business Support & Marketing at MA

It’s been said a zillion times since over a year but let’s say it once again, this past year has been like no other.

With our habits turned upside down and restrictions and measures ruling our lives, a lot of us cannot wait to come back to some kind of norm (even though whatever is the norm today is a tough question to answer).

Yet, some of us are actually dreading going back to their before-pandemic life, especially when it comes to going back into the office.  

Apart from the virus itself, what kind of fear is out there today, how does it affect us going back to an office and how to overcome it? 


Ever heard of FOGO (Fear Of Going Out)?

Named after the infamous FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), FOGO brings fear in the opposite way.

For some of us, our home became in the past year the place where we spend most of our time. The feeling of comfort it brings, the ever-so-big number of options to have whatever we want, whenever we want, all this added to the habits we have created while staying in are making it a nest which is difficult to leave.

So not wanting to leave is just laziness, you will say. Well, not totally.

Home is known and controlled. And knowing and controlling feels safe. But we have been daily overwhelmed for months with news, articles, statistics, and other TV reports making us feel like outside our home is a dangerous and close-to-uncontrollable territory.
To the point that going out to the supermarket across the street becomes some kind of challenging crusade.


What other fears?

To all this, one can obviously add the very first fear that grew early spring 2020 and is still scarily active today: catching the virus (or one of its numerous variant).

But also, today in 2021, some of us who did not have to go through the pain of furlough or redundancy and are lucky enough to still have jobs to go to, are yet caught in this paradox: while looking forward to seeing our colleagues again, catching up at the coffee machine, getting that motivation, productivity and dynamic back that only physical interactions can bring, are we actually ready and willing to face the busy commute, crowded places, and all the potential changes imposed to us today in our everyday lives, just to go back to the office?

How will we manage?


Overcoming anxiety and looking forward to a better workplace

Going to work in 2021 is obviously different from going to work in 2019, and the keyword to make it through is wellbeing.

  • Start your wellbeing journey at home

We understood it, one cause of anxiety is the overwhelming flow of alarming information coming our way through different media every day. While it is hard to determine what’s correct or not (after all, we’re not all scientists) and we don’t necessarily want to totally ignore the situation, we can always filter the information by choosing a couple of sources that provide relevant and official information, for example. 

When it comes to crossing the feared threshold of the house door and going somewhere outside, may it be a shop, work or the post office, relaxing, and picturing mentally every steps of the journey to see how to get there safely can make it easier. It’s always easier when we’re prepared !

There is so many wellbeing activities available and easily accessible. The most challenging part is probably to choose one or more, and to get started! The traditional activities will include yoga, meditation or any type of physical activity that will make you feel better. But you can also simply allocate time to do something you love, like reading, learning something new, or doing absolutely nothing!

  • Reach out !

The past few months have been a ground for isolation for a lot of us. In those times, communication is important.

 If you’re going through difficult times and it impacts your wellbeing at work and out of work, reach out to your line manager and/or colleagues you trust! If you don’t make them aware, they won’t know that you need help. Book in a meeting and notify them that it’s to discuss the return back to the office in advance. Come to the meeting prepared with what you want to say and a few suggestions that you feel would help your transition back to the office. Whether that’s a staggered increase of number of days in the office, changing your core hours to enable you to travel off-peak, or dedicated times for counselling or wellbeing sessions.

(Re)Connect with family and friends. Share your experiences, may they have been negative or positive, get help if you need, and be the help to someone who might need some too.

  • What does your company do for you? 

Wellbeing has been rightfully at the centre of many corporate initiatives lately, and today more than ever. Every company has their own programmes to accompany their employees, and here is what we do at MA:

To the likes of many companies, we’ve had to rethink our organisation. While our activity demands for our people to come back to the office, we want to make sure it’s done safely and in a way that makes everyone comfortable. We’ve therefore adopted a flexible working schedule, allowing people to work at the office for a minimum of 3 days a week, and of course more shall they want to.

With regards to safety, strict protocols are in place in both our London and Barcelona offices to ensure people coming to work can do so in an environment that’s safe for themselves and for the others.

MA has partnered with a wellbeing platform offering discounted programmes, services and products, as well as a library of curated content all related to aspects of wellbeing.  

Also, Mental Health First Aiders have been appointed (after a call for volunteers across our London and Barcelona offices) and will be trained points of contact for anyone experience the need to reach out, in a safe environment.

And all through the year, initiatives like webinars, forums and social events are in place to ensure MA is a place of trust and collaboration.


In other words... 

Going back to the workplace today is a challenge for employees as much as for employers as fears, rules, and new habits have grown over the last few months.

Wellbeing has become a top priority for many companies in order to make of the workplace a safe space. Safety brings comfort, which brings authenticity, which brings more comfort, which brings productivity!

It’s also important to reassess yourself and understanding your own challenges and wishes both inside and outside of work. If you’re dreading going back to your workplace, maybe it’s not a good fit for you anymore? If you’re ever curious about us, what we do, and what we have in place as an employer, don’t hesitate to have a look at our career website website and reach out 😊



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