Life post lockdown is a conundrum, especially for the workplace worldwide! Agreed that lifting lockdown was a sigh of relief to people. But the anxiety of the pandemic bite has yet not left us completely.

Covid-19 has brought atypical changes in our lifestyles. Offices, business and labour sectors never bothered with the physical dimensions of work. The pandemic accelerated the existing trends of remote working. Unfortunately, not all employees can afford a remote working life post lockdown.

Companies struggled to adopt a new working lifestyle to ensure business continuity best.  Businesses and labour sectors have to reimagine and redo their office setup now that employees return to work post lockdown. Above all, companies have now become aware and are actively participating in their employee physical and mental wellbeing.

To establish a healthy work and office life post lockdown, let’s understand the challenges employees may face and ways to cope.

Grief and Bereavement

Many of us have lost friends and family members to the pandemic. This could have far-reaching impacts on our lives and our abilities to perform well in daily life. Moreover, the pressure to feel “okay and positive” when we have faced significant losses can be daunting.

The expectation of coming out of the lockdown the same or better can be intimidating and have worsening effects on our mental and emotional wellbeing.

We may feel like we cannot grieve, that we need to be thankful we are out of lockdown, or others have it worse can prevent us from feeling things our own way. It may further lead to repressed anger, depression and force an individual to engage in wrong coping mechanisms.

How to cope: 

Riding the wave of grief is a complex process and is unique for everyone. Allow yourself to go through the stages of grief – find a trusted person to discuss your thoughts and feelings around the loss.

How to help them cope: 

Employers can organise training sessions and webinars with accredited therapists to create a company culture where colleagues can offer effective help and compassion to each other.

Fear of Getting Infected

Anxiety and fear of contracting the virus could lead to agoraphobia (avoiding places and potential situations of panic), social withdrawal and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

How to cope:

Remind yourself that appropriate measures have been decided on by medical experts. The lockdown is easing because the threat has been reduced significantly in your area.

We do not have control over what the government decides to do; we need to start living in the present and not in the what-if(s).

How to help them cope:

Establish a crisis team that will help your employees not with mental health problems but physical too. Organisations may wish to establish a core crisis team to respond to blockers in the office and work life post lockdown.

Change in Work Life Post Lockdown:

Change naturally causes anxiety. Going back to old routines and create new ones again can be overwhelming.

Our work set-up could have changed in many ways from furlough to office hours, job description, workload, job security and many more. Therefore anxiety and burnout are possible in such situations.

How to cope: 

Start small and remind yourself this is an uncertain time. Be gentle and give yourself time as you find your way back into a routine. You do not need to be perfect; allow as much flexibility as possible. All you have to do is to take the first step without looking at the whole staircase!

How to help them cope: 

Employers should practice flexibility not just in working hours but also in the distribution of roles and responsibilities.

Toxic Positivity and Productivity

There is a fine line between healthy and toxic positivity/ productivity, and the line had often blurred in the lockdown. No matter how productive and optimistic we try to remain, there is always a feeling of guilt for not having done more than we did. Toxic positivity and productivity can be detrimental to your mental and emotional wellbeing.

How to cope: 

Factor in positive self-talk. Practice and respect healthy boundaries for yourself and others without negotiation.

How to help them cope: 

Managers and leaders need to be mindful that times are difficult and different. They should get trained on the new norms to help their team better without getting burned out themselves.

The Botton Line:

Anxiety is simply the fear of fear. It’s being afraid of an imagined future experience and thinking you can’t deal with it emotionally. The irony, of course, is that as you imagine the future scenario, you already feel what you think you can’t deal with.

Our brains can’t tell the difference between what is real and what we imagine. We react equally strongly to both. We often inadvertently make our anxiety worse by trying to avoid, fix, or cope with our imagined experience. When we focus on anxiety and its perceived cause, we magnify it. We make it seem even more real in our minds because, psychologically speaking, perception is reality.

The moment we see this for ourselves, it no longer makes as much sense to try to analyse or fight anxiety. We can simply let it be, knowing that it will go just as mysteriously as it came.

In simpler words, acknowledgement and acceptance are the keys to a healthy work life post lockdown.