Why Is Returning To Work A Massive Challenge?

returning to work is scary for many, scarier still is the unanswered questions

What To Do For People Who Returning to Work is a Massive Challenge

Returning to work on a Monday morning is a cinch right?  You do it most weeks and it’s part of your routine, except it hasn’t been for ages now.  Many people have been off work or working from home for around 3 months now. That’s a long time and certainly long enough to form new habits.  There are broadly three types of people


We do like people but being around people a lot is energy draining.  So depending on our home life set up we will either be returning to work full of beans as we have had plenty of time solo or in small groups like you and your partner (like me).   Others may have been stuck in a small house or flat or with other family members where its difficult to get away and find your own head space, never mind physical space. My poor brother in law is one of these.

Returning to work for this type of person will be challenging.


People loving people who derive much of their own personal energy from being around others.  They thrive best when in the midst of a throng.   Working from home or being furloughed with little outlet for face to face socialising will have been challenging for this type of person.   Often quite touchy feely in a quick hug or an arm around the shoulders or pat on the back sort of way.

Returning to work will be a blessing for these people in general – unless they also fall into the challenged category


What do I mean by challenged?  Emotionally or physically challenged.  Perhaps they have a lung condition, have a close family member who does or have another condition or illness which could be very badly affected by contracting Covid-19.   

Emotional challenges include a diverse range of things as we all react individually to the same situation.  It could be that they have anxiety, depression or even PTSD as a result.  Knowing people that have died of COVID or watching the numbers and news a lot can affect your mental and emotional state.  What was once a simple task like going food shopping now feels like going into battle and I mean that, I am not being patronising, it really does feel this way to some.

Depending on the workplace and the persons role they could be worried about – how the manager will be with them, what new things will be in place, will they be safe, do they have to use loads of new technology, what will others thing of them and more.


So what should a manager and business do in order to perform their duty of care to their staff and manage effectively, supportively and with compassion?

        – Be Open, ask questions, talk about how you feel as a manager too
        – Ask questions and be prepared to take time to hold space and just listen

  • Be prepared to be flexible, different people will need different support
  • Get on top of your own mindset and feelings first before talking to staff
  • Talk to everyone, even if they seem OK on the surface.  Those that are can help you support and motivate others
  • Remember the people rather than focussing on getting back on track financially.  Both are important and you cannot achieve your financial goals without your people
  • Consider adding resource to support you and your staff, Zoifos offer project based wellness, no need to commit to a whole year(s), unless you want to.
  • Ask your directors for help and make them aware of how much extra time people support is
  • Work with HR to review how targets and goals are worded or achieved, they may need reworking so that people still feel fulfilled and have achieved something despite missing 3 months of work
  • Consider extending working from home, if you do this consider who you will suggest this for, extroverts will hate it and productivity is likely to drop 

If you are choosing to keep lots of working from home, consider how you can maintain and improve human connection with fun and technology

How To Be

All of these tips work with all of the three types, you are likely to experience different issues with the three types, here are our thoughts on them.

Chat to everyone, being open and flexible minded.   See who is Ok, who just says they are and who could do with flexibility on working or support on mental and emotional health.  What roles are they all in.  Do you have a mixed bag in each team or are you finding that marketing are pretty much great but accounts mostly not.  Note the tendency of marketing folk to be extrovert and accounts to be introvert.

How To Help and How to Ask

How much help do people need – if you can gauge this.   If not refer on to someone who can.  Open questions with as little personal opinion in as possible are best.   How do you feel about returning to work?   What would you like to have happen when you come back?  Questions like this.  If you’re not that into feelings and how they affect people say so – perhaps “I’m aware that how you feel will have an impact with what you are comfortable with, how you want to interact and how much you want to be at work.  I’m not that good at talking about feelings but would like to listen to you and hear what you have to say and your suggestions for any changes or support that you need”

Can People Really Get PTSD From Lockdown and Corona Virus?

 People in the challenged category do have a very real chance of developing PTSD.  Its not just terrorism victims and soldiers who get it, its far more commonplace than many people know.  It can be reversed and a happy content life lived.  We can help people who may be in this situation – if you have anyone talking about the virus more than is healthy or dwelling on the problem, poor sleep, short attention span, looking sweaty or distracted then do refer them to someone like us to get them help.  They need specific help, not just a pat on the back and left to get on with it.

Why The Challenge Though?

Still wondering why returning to work is a challenge?  Think back to when you were 5 and went to school for the first time, not knowing what your desk would look like or how your friends would be after not seeing them for the 2 months of school holidays.  Meeting teachers and doing new things.  Scary wasn’t it.  Exciting too maybe.   Hopefully you enjoyed your time in reception class and learnt how to cope with the new way of life pretty quickly.   For most post lockdown life will soon resume a balance.   For anyone else, we’re here for them

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