Back to work– what to think about
“The most important thing is to treat your colleagues with understanding and empathy”
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.”
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.”
Photo: Unsplash, Avonova