MANILA -- Many companies are starting to ask their employees to return to the office as COVID-19 cases continue to drop, and it is making many people feel anxious.
According to life coach and author Myke Celis, this can largely be attributed to being "overwhelmed" by the idea of making big adjustments yet again, after two years of virtual calls and working from home.
"A lot of people are developing resistance in going back to their regular grind of working on-site because they are overwhelmed by a number of things: the commute, the traffic, the need to dress up, the additional expenses, the loss of 'freedom,' the boring, stiff routine and, of course, the fear of getting COVID-19," he told ABS-CBN News.
"Suddenly, what used to be so familiar has turned into unchartered territory because people have gotten used to working remotely," he added.
Celis also acknowledged the concerns of some people who do not see the point of returning to on-site work because they feel "results were delivered accordingly while working from home."
"Having these in mind causes so much unnecessary stress among the members of the returning workforce due to the numerous assumptions and fears," he said.
Celis said people who are anxious about returning to the office amid the pandemic usually feel "very restless" and "irritable," tend to "act lazily and perform less than usual," and would sometimes "indulge in stress eating," among others.
Those who are already back on-site, on the other hand, may have the tendency to "avoid engaging with others and skip work or responsibilities due to the growing resistance."
When asked to share coping strategies, the life coach mentioned the importance of taking things one step at a time in accepting that "everything is slowly getting back to normal."
"Take a step back first and reflect: what is causing this anxiety or feeling of being overwhelmed? Is it based on facts or mere assumptions?" he said.
"This is key as you acknowledge how you feel, and allow yourself to learn what you must along the way," he added. "Do away with the notion that the moment you step back into the office, you need to be your 100% old self. The new you needs time to adjust."
Celis went on: "It will also help if you get to share your concerns with your boss/HR so that you can slide back into your routine accordingly, at your own pace, without pressuring yourself too much. Because that can only add to unwanted stress."
"[You can also] create your own productivity grid and share with your workmates so you can be supported accordingly."
Celis believes companies and employers also have a huge role to play in helping their staff face the transition to on-site work.
Some of the things he recommended include setting up an onboarding session "where they can voice out their concerns," engaging the services of life coaches and experts, and creating a schedule "that will gradually allow people to integrate themselves back slowly."
"[An example would be a] three-day on-site work week, [and] every other week the work schedule changes until such time [that the] 100% workforce will be more than willing to go back. This will help eliminate the extreme pressure and stress that going back to work puts on the workers," he said.
"Also, rewarding those who have shown utmost commitment to going back to work [with things like] movie tickets for the weekend or little treats in the office," he suggested. "[These] can also serve as an inspiration for others to do the same. It's all about showing your employees that you understand them and that you genuinely care."
Meanwhile, Celis reminded those who manage anxiety and stress amid the pandemic, whether they are back on-site or still staying at home, to "pause during overwhelming times."
"Take time to reflect and realize what really is bothering you and don't just keep it to yourself," he stressed. "Allow yourself to reach out for help, whether from your family, friends, workmates, or mental health professionals so that your concerns are heard and addressed accordingly."
"More than ever, now is the time to be kinder to yourself so allow yourself to work at your own pace, in your own space without feeling guilty. At the end of the day, your work can wait, but your life -- and mental health and well-being -- can't," he ended.