Managing anxiety after returning to office - SG


On March 24, Education Minister Lawrence Wong announced that up to 75 per cent of employees may return to the workplace at any one time from April 5, up from 50 per cent. The Health Ministry added in a press statement that the requirement for employees to work from home for at least half their working time will also be lifted.

From 5th April 2021, many more companies have since return to work in office. 

As workplaces shift from the default mode of working from home to a more flexible arrangement, some employees are feeling anxious while adjusting to the changes.

A software engineer, who wanted to be known only as Ms Valerie, 25, had eased into her working environment at home since the circuit breaker.

But since April 1, she has been working in the office daily, a transition she is struggling with.

"I'm trying my best to adjust to this new way of working, but it has heightened my anxiety," said Ms Valerie, who suffers from frequent panic attacks.

She also has to spend at least 90 minutes travelling from her flat in Punggol to her workplace in Clementi.

"I spoke to my supervisor about my anxiety and I'm thankful he is understanding. I get to come in to work a little later than everyone else. Of course, I make sure I'm very productive during the day," she said.

BOUNDARIES

Clinical psychologist Chad Yip advised parents heading back to the office to draw clear boundaries between work and personal time.

"Communicate with your children to ensure they understand that by going back to offices, it does not mean that you will spend less time with them," he said.

Other employees TNP spoke to were eager to return to the office to get back into the groove of things.

An accountant, 23, who wanted to be known only as Ms Koh, said: "Things move faster when we work in the office and I feel more productive too."

While some employees may be open to such changes, Mr Yip said others may need more time to adjust to the new working arrangements due to their personal commitments.

Employees may even experience re-entry anxiety as the sudden changes may be "a shock to their daily routines", he added.

"It is thus good (for employers) to have regular, open communication with employees to better understand how they are coping," he said.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been agile in the way we introduced new initiatives, practices and measures to adapt and transform the way we work. We will continue to do so as the situation progresses," he added.

Cited, TNP Singapore


HOW SHOULD EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES MANAGE?

With the suddenly change from pre-Covid to current Covid, we have all been facing many different expected changes. Managing these changes well is important for individuals to avoid falling into anxiety.

Employers:
- Listen to your employees' concerns
- Empathy towards your fellow employees
- Encourage your employees
- Introduce workplace wellness schemes - healthy mind healthy life
- Create social activities 

Employees:
- Make arrangements for your home and kids to ensure that everything is in order
- Talk to your employers, give them a chance to hear you out
- Take a breather from your seat, if required
- Revamp the habitat - feel refreshed with your surrounding

- Do not be afraid to seek professional help if required

Bottomline, we are bound to meet with unexpected changes in life, keep a healthy mindset at all times!