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Back to work– what to think about

“The most important thing is to treat your colleagues with understanding and empathy”

Person in front of computer seen through a window
Different individuals in a work group will feel differently about coming back to work in person. "Everyone will have experienced the pandemic in their own way, and it is important that co-workers respect each other’s differences,” says psychologist Margareta Kucera.
Published Aug 25, 2021

While some of us have appreciated working from home, others have hated it. And while some of us are looking forward to returning to the workplace, others feel they will be under greater stress there.
“Everyone needs to be aware that their colleagues can have experienced their period of working from home in different ways. It is important that we are respectful and do not judge each other,” says Margareta Kucera, a psychologist at Avonova, the KTH company healthcare provider.

After 18 months of a pandemic, it is now time to return to working on site. Kucera urges all to be particularly responsive to co-workers' respective differences.

One principal difference she mentions is that while certain people have been hard hit by Covid-19, others have managed to maintain a more easy-going attitude to the pandemic period.

“For those individuals with relatives that have died of Covid, or that have otherwise experienced the seriousness of the illness at close quarters, seeing colleagues not taking the risks of infection seriously for example, can be incredibly provocative.”

Portrait of Margareta Kucera
“Something that has really struck me during the 18 months of the pandemic is how different it has been perceived by different people. How enormously varied their stories are”, says psychologist Margareta Kucera

And according to Kucera, it is important for work groups and managers not to purely think ahead at the beginning of this new work situation, but also to cast their eyes backwards.

“We must remember that some co-workers will be returning to unresolved conflicts that have been put on hold during the pandemic. Workplace problems that existed in spring 2020 have not gone away. It is a case now of managers grasping the nettle and dealing with these problems, certain things can have been put to rest, but you should not assume that conflicts have resolved themselves automatically.”

While some parents of young children will be delighted to return to the workplace to finally be able to work in peace and quiet, others can find it stressful to no longer be able to work undisturbed in a bustling workplace.

“Many people with children at home during the pandemic have had to play dual roles on a daily basis, for instance, that of a working professional and a parent. They have perhaps been working in the living room or kitchen and felt greater stress in association with Zoom meetings, for example.”

A sense of relief

“And others have felt stress from being isolated and feeling lonely during the pandemic. Most of us will feel a sense of relief now when we can finally socialise in person again, of gaining that sense of affinity and the value of having somewhere to go to, instead of being restricted to online meetings and coffee breaks.”

Kucera stresses that the imminent return to work entails a double challenge, partly due to the fact that most people have spent the last 18 months working from home for pandemic reasons, and partly because most people will be returning to work after being on holiday for several weeks.

“Don’t forget that it is not strange to feel a certain reluctance when you face going back to work after a long holiday. That’s absolutely normal, it does not have to mean you are unhappy there.”

Katarina Ahlfort
Photo: Unsplash, Avonova

Back to work – what to think about

  • Spend time creating constructive new everyday routines. We learn all the time, and we have created new routines during the time we have been working from home that we can continue to benefit from.
  • One of the challenges will be to once again adapt our working hours to commuting to and from work, and here for example, these new online meeting routines can be combined with commuting.
  • It is important to respect social distancing in a work group and be attentive to anyone who may be worried about the risk of infection.
  • Bear in mind that the pandemic is not yet over. Employers are liable for ensuring in a clear way that the workplace is a safe environment, so check out information on the intranet to find out what rules apply in your workplace.
Belongs to: Current
Last changed: Aug 25, 2021