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How to Handle the Anxiety of Returning to the Office

  • Sep 02, 2020
  • Mental Health

LED Lightbox With Letter Motivational Text For Working From Home During Pandemic

Over the last 5 months, many of us have got used to spending more time at home and only seeing a small circle of people.

If you’re feeling anxious about returning to your place of work after lockdown, you’re not alone. 

According to a survey published by the CIPD, 44% of employees feel anxious about returning to their workplace because of Covid-19.

People are anxious about commuting to work, being able to properly socially distance while in the workplace and the office not being clean enough.

You may also be under a lot of stress dealing with traumatic events while suddenly back in the workplace.

We have put together below a list of things you could do to help manage your anxiety when returning to your office.

Talk to Your Manager About Your Concerns

You may feel afraid to talk about your concerns during times of high furloughs, layoffs and job instability. You’re not alone in what you’re feeling, so there’s no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed about speaking up.

If your commute is the source of your anxiety, speak to your manager about whether you could change your hours to avoid the busiest times.

You can also ask for flexible working if:

  • You’ve worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks
  • You’re legally classed as an employee
  • You’ve not made any other flexible working request in the last 12 months

You could also request to:

  • Reduce your hours to work part-time
  • Change your start and finish time
  • Have flexibility with your start and finish time (also known as ‘flexitime’)
  • Do your hours over fewer days (‘compressed hours’)
  • Work from home or elsewhere (‘remote working’)
  • Share the job with someone else

You can also ask about what hygiene and social distancing measurements are put in place to protect everyone in the office.

These might include:

  • Providing hand sanitisers 
  • More regular cleaning of your workspace
  • Moving desks two metres apart, or putting up screens
  • Staggering start times, finish times and when you take your breaks to minimise contact with other people

Understanding the policies your workplace has created, as well as familiarising yourself with the government guidelines, will give you peace of mind and a clearer understanding of what to expect.

Take Care of Yourself

Being kind to yourself is very important, especially if you’re struggling with anxiety. Give yourself permission to take it easy.

This may mean you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to complete lots of work as soon as you return, and instead take some time to adjust to being back in the workplace.

If you’re worried about the amount of work you have to do when you return, making a plan and a to-do-list might help you organise your time.

Once you finish your workday, try to set aside some time each day for activities that can help you unwind. 

These may include:

  • Practising mindfulness and meditation
  • Doing something you find relaxing like reading, going for a walk-in nature or taking a bath
  • Spending time with loved ones

Be Intentional About Your News Sources

Be mindful of where you get your news. Gathering too much information about the coronavirus, or getting it from the wrong place, can make you feel more anxious. 

Defer to official sources, such as the World Health OrganizationUK Government and National Health Service (NHS) for general updates on the state of the pandemic and how to keep yourself safe.


If you’re struggling with anxiety, you can speak to your GP who’ll be able to help you with ways you can manage it.

Charities like the Samaritans and CALM both have phone lines for people needing urgent support.

If you like to learn more about your employee rights - including the steps your employer should be putting in place to ensure a safe return to work – you can check out the official government guidance for working safely during coronavirus and the health and safety guidance your workplace should be adhering to.



Freedom Health Insurance is an award-winning private health insurance provider with a long track-record of success covering thousands of people in the UK and abroad since 2003.

We provide flexible and comprehensive private medical insurance for individuals, families, and businesses across the UK and internationally.

If you want to get a quote for the policy that best suits your needs, you have 4 options to contact our friendly team:

  1. Get a quote online here.
  2. Call us on 0800 999 2013
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