The start of the decade was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. As the world grappled with changes brought about by the now-infamous coronavirus, communication shifted to remote locations. Work from home became the new normal as people across the globe logged in to zoom meetings and conference calls.
COVID-19 not only changed how we communicate but also the way office spaces operate. ‘Stay at home’ became par for the course for many employees. While general anxiety about the pandemic prevailed, many people became comfortable with the new rules.
After a year of social distancing and working from home, offices are opening up for employees to return to work. As employers are calling their staff back for in-person work, the prospect of readjusting to the old routine is daunting to many employees. Given the current situation, one cannot ignore the paradoxes that have domineered over the corporate world.
- Paradox 1: Studies have shown that 94% of workers are undergoing stress due to COVID-19 restrictions. People have been rushing to get their vaccine doses in an attempt to gain immunity. The collective desire for herd immunity and the anxiety of going back into the same herd poses an unprecedented oddity in working spaces around the world.
- Paradox 2: Coronavirus has created the need for social interactions in an isolated society. Work from home in the past year has pushed people further into the rabbit hole of technological dependency. Returning to workspaces would force employees to find ways of remaining human and use their newly earned skills at work. The idea of being able to readjust to this scenario is intimidating to many.
According to experts, it is natural for such paradoxes to exist. For over a year now, people have had a sea change in routine. Despite being vaccinated, fears persist in everyone’s minds. To add to the anxiety, public health messaging has emphasized the idea that staying at home is the safest way to avoid testing positive for COVID-19. For employees to worry about returning to work is natural. Moreover, people have faced personal losses during the pandemic.
As much as we would like the world to return to its former, mask-less glory, situations have changed for many. Returning to work will not be as easy as we think it might be. The good news is that our brains have been conditioned to adapt to fast-paced changes and new situations in the past year. While returning to work might be daunting, the only way to adapt to the paradoxes is to accept that COVID-19 is a unique situation, be kind to ourselves, and be mentally prepared for what is to come.
NAM has experienced several requests by employers to assist to hire staff who can continue to work remotely until such a time that organizations feel comfortable to safely allow employees be back to work. In the process we are inviting to