Why a Return-to-office Plan Isn’t Just About the Office
Make fresh plans to accommodate to accommodate pushback
Call it normality anxiety: As COVID-19 numbers (knock wood) trend downward and more organizations call their workers back to the office, employees who’ve been working from home for much of the past two years have a new stressor. Because in the past two years, workers aren’t just going back to “normal”; they’re returning to an office carrying experiences of loss and frustration.
An article in The New York Times last week underscored the change in employees’ mental wellness as they prepare to return, and the need for employers to acknowledge it. “Some companies take the posture where they say: ‘We’re resilient. We’re all about business. That’s what we’re going to focus on,’” startup founder April Koh told the paper. “That’s just not the way to solve problems.”
Some numbers back up the concern. A McKinsey study from last year found that a third of employees who had returned to work said that it had a “negative impact on their mental health.” But employers are committed to a return: According to a recent report by the consultancy Protiviti, while 70 percent employers say they’ll embrace hybrid arrangements by 2030, a majority (57 percent) will mandate where and how employees work.
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