If you still have zoom fatigue, you are not alone. What needs to change as we work to reinstitute some sense of normalcy to a workplace that will never be the same? While experts boast of predictions, none of us can truly anticipate what the workplace will become, although we are seeing some consistent messaging around physical and emotional well-being as we come back to our office.
There is no perfect answer, and a one size fits all return will likely remain a bit convoluted over the long term: how should we integrate our recent past experiences of isolation into collaboration, minus the feelings of dread and illness? What we do know is that home / work boundaries remain blurred, as do wardrobe requirements. Staff returned to the break room and water cooler gossip resumed. And small mom and pop’s retailers, up through to the mega-corporations continue to offer improved perks and financial incentives to motivate new hires accepting positions on the employers’ terms and staff returning to the fold as health and safety remains a top priority.
Those active in today’s workforce has differing expectations based on personal experiences, regardless of a global crisis. Every type of workplace will continue to tweak, adjust, and alter policies and procedures that work best for their teams. Workplace experts claim that, from every industry, they continue to field questions from anxious Human Resource, Facility, Space and Optimization Managers still scenario planning the path forward in this Pandemic environment.
“A lot of people are trying to figure out the balancing act…that goes on longer than…anticipated.” Melissa White, HR Knowledge Adviser, Society for Human Resource Management, NBCNews.com January 2021
Employers are requesting and expecting staff to return, whether in time shifts or alternating workdays. While some businesses and staff have embraced uncertainty and accepted change, others still thrive on chaos and resist the new health and safety rules. As individuals reshape their feelings around personal space against human interaction, it remains difficult to fully grasp how Covid-19 will impact our health and our social skills in the not-so-distant future.
Do employees have much say over whether staff WILL return to a working environment? While a select group of industries have no choice but to accommodate a work from anywhere request, those business that rely on personal face to face interaction are left with a challenge to backfill open positions that may have been eliminated in 2020. MSN published an article July 2021 referencing the challenges Apple is having over staff return as “…employee pushback over may be indicative of a widening chasm…between employers and staff…” Sources confirm that the company has taken a stance on its position to get their teams back to their desks rather than remain virtual. It begs the question to whether the employee will drive the response to return or retire. Also featured in the story, A Gartner research piece suggested that “…68% of those who worked remotely during the Pandemic favor a hybrid model in the future…”
“…Psychologists say the lack of everyday interaction could result in extroverted people…feeling socially anxious…after being forced to accommodate the absence of others…hence a rise in social awkwardness and anxiety…” Nicole Karlis, February 2021
The effect of mass trauma will always be a profound assault to our psyche. Doctors speak of patients suffering from: increase in heart rate, blood pressure and inflammation; poor vision with extended screen time; exacerbation of existing conditions; an increase in mental health issues; excessive consumptive behaviors and social anxiety.
The four (4) most prescribed strategies to reduce feelings of anxiety around isolation include: practicing mindfulness while staying present in the moment; stay connected and express feelings for acceptance; vary methods of communication, then communicate more; practice empathy, compassion and kindness.
“The best predictor of tomorrow’s behavior is todays.” Julie Blackman, Social Psychologist, salon.com
We have the power within ourselves to control negative feelings: but, should you feel overwhelmed, never hesitate to seek assistance. The experts can guide you in discovering self help strategies to ease your anxiety.