Just the thought of returning to the office increases anxiety for 65 percent of workers, according to a survey of more than 4,000 professionals conducted by Blind, an anonymous professional network. Medical experts refer to those anxious feelings as re-entry anxiety.
Laura Rhodes-Levin, therapist and founder of the Missing Peace Center for Anxiety, says in a CBS New York report that symptoms of re-entry anxiety can range from sweaty palms to serious panic. In addition to concerns about health and family, Blind survey findings suggest that fears about postpandemic social interactions in the workplace feed workers’ anxiety.
However, employees can take steps to ease their worries. Last summer in the Time article “How to Soothe Your ‘Re-Entry Anxiety’ as COVID-19 Lockdowns Lift,” Ryan Sultan, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, offers suggestions that can help workers for returning to the office. He recommends breathing exercises and exposure therapy as tactics to reduce anxiety.
Companies also can help anxious staff members. The Blind blog post “Back to the Office Anxieties” suggests employers prioritize employee well-being, be transparent, and lead with empathy.