COLUMBUS, Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— When the World Health Organization declared COVID a pandemic in March, many Americans sheltered in place, working remotely whenever possible. Since then, some have returned to the office, but many have not and as COVID cases continue to climb there is growing stress surrounding a return to the workplace.
Some of us may welcome a return to an in-person workspace after months of being at home. But what you left months ago is most likely not the routine you’ll be returning to.
K. Luan Phan, MD, a psychiatrist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center explained, “Now they’ve got to re-shift again. And it’s not going back to the normal workplace, it’s going back to a modified workplace.
Dr. Phan is an expert in behavioral health. He says uncertainty over a long period of time creates unhealthy levels of stress. He says to alleviate anxiety, employers should create a return to work plan that outlines safety precautions. Those may include daily temperature checks, keeping workspaces more than six feet apart, providing face coverings and meeting one-on-one instead of in groups. Dr. Phan also says the physical ways we used to show co-workers support are no longer appropriate.
Dr. Phan elaborated, “We shake hands, we give hugs, we give high fives and ultimately with a face mask on, we can’t express our emotions in a way that we typically would.”
Dr. Phan says workers will need to verbalize support for each other instead, as we reconnect in a new workplace environment.
Dr. Phan says right now, it’s important to not let your guard down. It’s normal to relax once you get into a familiar setting. Continue practicing good hand hygiene and keep hand sanitizer and wipes nearby. And don’t go to work if you don’t feel well.