Does Going Back Into the Office Freak You Out?

Source: Amy Silver, Harvard Business Review, April 23, 2021
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With companies considering redesigning physical office spaces to better accommodate hybrid work environments, chances are, depending on your job, your sector, and your leadership team, at some point you’ll need to go in to work. And this might be making you anxious. As we try to socialize and adjust to yet another “new normal” by engaging with people at work like we did in a pre-pandemic world, the exact focus of our worries and fears will vary. To manage your fears, there’s a few things you can do.

  • Understand what impact fear can have on your work. When our fear system is activated, we go into fight-or-flight mode. This means we can become distracted, our thoughts become more muddled, and decision making becomes more biased as our brain tries to make short cuts and we are more likely to make bad decisions.
  • Learn how to manage your fear. Be compassionate to yourself and know that it’s okay to feel this way. Then recognize your triggers and reactions. Does being in a crowded elevator scare you? Or running into coworkers when you go to fetch your coffee?
  • Separate your “fear” voice from what you want to do. Fear’s job is to keep us safe, and it does that by pushing us to choose short-term, protective behaviors (like running away, or avoidance) in a given situation rather than behaviors that will serve us in the longer term (facing something more rationally).