Staying well during a return to the workplace

Lizzie Buxton

Written By Helen Moran, Learning and Development/ HR Consultant, AdviserPlus

2nd February 2022

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Following the Government’s confirmation that it’s no longer necessary to work from home, many businesses will have already started thinking about timescales and arrangements for a return to the office. Including us, at AdviserPlus!

After such a long period of home working and so many false starts, we all hope that this announcement sees the end of a difficult period for so many people and the start of a new way of working, whatever that might look like.

However, any change, regardless of size, can affect how we feel.

For every one person who is excited to return to the office, there may be another who is nervous about the future and what it means to them. We can’t plan for every possible scenario going forward, but we can find ways of looking after ourselves and taking steps to manage whatever comes next.

Look for the opportunities a return to work will bring

When we go through change, we can feel a sense of loss – that can make us focus on the negatives. When the first lockdown happened, lots of us felt a sense of isolation and loneliness – or felt it was an impossible task to work at home with family and pets around us. As time has gone on, you might have started to see the positives – and the same will happen when we return to the office. By looking for the opportunities this will bring, we can come to terms with the change. For example, what have you missed most about being around colleagues? The informal discussions about what you watched on TV last night? The spontaneous conversations when you meet someone in the staff room? Maybe just knowing you can shout over to someone when you need support?

Many people will have joined businesses mid-lockdown and won’t have experienced the buzz of their busy offices. We’re very proud of the culture we’ve built at AdviserPlus and being back together will be a great introduction or reminder of what it’s like to be around such talented, creative, supportive people.

Manage the story you tell yourself

Most of the thoughts we have in a day are about ourselves and the environment we are in. Our subconscious mind listens to those thoughts and believes whatever it hears – whether it’s true or not! Unfortunately, most of us run a pretty negative commentary on ourselves and our situation constantly – leading us to perceive ourselves and the world in negative terms. In other words, if you believe the day is going to be rubbish, it probably will be!

Because our subconscious is so easily influenced by what we tell it, changing the messaging can have a big effect on how we feel. Our brains are neuroplastic – they carry on making new connections throughout our lives. You don’t have to pretend everything is perfect, but when you catch yourself in a negative thought, ask yourself if it’s based on fact or opinion – if it’s opinion, consider that it might be wrong and try to change to a more positive or neutral one!

Talk about it

Even the most positive people have down days and it’s important to remember that it’s ok to recognise when you don’t feel so good. You feel however you feel! Bottling things up is never good for us and if we can talk about what is going on for us, not only do we release some of the pressure, but we also give ourselves a chance of getting the help and support we need. That means, if you’re feeling anxious or nervous about the return to the office, you need to let your line manager know.

They’ll do whatever they can to support you. At AdviserPlus, we also encourage colleagues to speak to our Mental Health First Aiders who can provide a non-judgmental listening ear, whether their feelings are about work or something else. We also have access to 24/7 counselling and advice line service through our Employee Assistance Programme, which is another great source of support.

We’re all really looking forward to seeing people back in the office, to meeting new faces and rebuilding the atmosphere that we are so proud of. Although we will miss our slippers!

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