How to deal with the pressures of returning to work

For many, office work has become a distant memory. And it’s natural that there’s anxiety about returning to work – we aren’t returning to normal; we’re stepping into the unknown

thoughts about returning to work

It’s been a strange few months for most. Working practices have changed. New routines have been established. And we’ve all been coming to terms with remote working.

This has been easier for some than others. For every individual that switched seamlessly, another faced the daunting task of balancing work, childcare and adapting to new tech all in one go.

And as we look ahead to a return to the office, a similar shakeup in our day-to-day is in the making. In this article, we’ll look at what the future might hold for different people – and how business leaders and organisations can provide the right support.

The future for furloughed workers

Furloughed workers may have been out of action for over two months. That’s two months of amusing themselves with reduced social contact – and two months of being out of the loop of what’s happening day to day within their organisation.

Furloughed staff may be asking  Is the work still the same? Have I missed any business-critical information? Do I even remember all my passwords?’.

It’s up to business leaders and HR departments to provide the reassurance they require and keep the lines of communication open.

The future for remote workers

If someone wasn’t furloughed, chances are they’ve been working from home full time.

For these people, anxiety isn’t caused by being out of the loop, but the amount of time and energy they’ve now invested into adopting new ways of working – and the thought of having to return to their more office orientated working practices.

It’s important to gain feedback from your remote workers. How do they want to move forwards and provide the right resources and technology to help them make adjustments? Whether that’s back in the office, working at home or a mixture of both.

The future for everyone

There are lots of things that will cause anxiety across every industry and role.

We’ve had months of guidance on living safely through social distancing. But for a large proportion of the population, returning to the office means looking at commuting options, needing more flexibility and adjusting to unfamiliar social situations.

And then there’s the work environment itself. Will there be hesitation among employees? How will workspaces incorporate social distancing? Some may even ask ‘Is it even necessary – why can’t we just continue to work remotely?’.

These questions must be answered by all organisations that are considering the future of their workplaces.

Choosing our own ‘new normal’

At the end of the day, we are in control of how we move forwards. We’re approaching another time of significant change – one that will resonate for years to come. And while it’s natural to hesitate and feel anxious, we can also see this is an opportunity to enact positive change.

Some of the world’s leading organisations have already offered their people the choice: ‘return to the office or continue working from home – it’s up to you.’ They can do this now because they’ve got the right technology and processes in place – so it makes no real difference to their business, it just benefits their people.

Evidence has long shown that remote workers often have higher productivity and job satisfaction. This could be your chance to empower your people, remove their anxieties and enhance productivity all at once.

So, how should organisations approach the future?

Look ahead to how your people can enjoy the very best working experience moving forwards – this is a task for all areas of the organisation from Facilities Managers, to HR departments, to business leaders.

But don’t expect to find a quick and easy solution. Take each day as it comes, gaining regular feedback from them and see every obstacle as an opportunity for improvement.

Facilities management

Facilities Managers have always been focused on the efficient and effective delivery of support services for the organisation they serve. In the current circumstances, this has never been more important.

In the face of new challenges, it’s the Facilities Management team within businesses that must navigate the practical elements and implementation of safety, efficiency and continuity in the workplace and beyond. Ensuring that people feel safe and understood during their return and into the future. This means putting people front and centre as you consider the strategy of returning to the workplace and ensuring they have had the opportunity to give their input

HR departments

As working practices look to transition once more, it’s important that the right support networks are in place to enable your people to make decisions for themselves.

This isn’t just about listening and providing assistance where it’s needed. It’s about proactively showing that your people are at the forefront of every business decision. This will help reassure them that whatever the future looks like, they are very much part of it.

Business leaders

If you discover that your people want to continue working from home, you need to ensure you’ve got the processes and infrastructure required to support them.

This means the implementation of cloud technologies, the latest collaboration tools and any necessary hardware for each individual.

If you need help with identifying exactly what your business needs to empower your staff, work with a people-first partner like Ricoh – we’ll work alongside you to build the perfect package for your organisation.


Please visit our Work Together, Anywhere Webinar Series page to access the webinar recording


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Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Workplace Consultancy Development Director at Ricoh UK & Ireland

Read all articles by Simone Fenton-Jarvis