As the world starts to open up again, many of us are rightly nervous about stepping back into society with the risk of COVID-19 still at large and all the unknown possibilities ahead.
Some of us will have even felt relieved by the Prime Minister’s most recent announcement that the easing of all restrictions would be postponed until the end of July.
Reopening anxiety is a real problem for a lot of people, especially those who have found themselves thriving in the pandemic and are feeling dread about what they will have to return to in a “normal” world.
We’ve experienced so much change over the pandemic that the “new normal” can feel weirdly comfortable at times.
This is something we’ve been speaking about openly as a team; we’ve been thinking about the causes of reopening anxiety and what changes we might see in the future to tackle it.
We’ve forgotten how to socialise, and we’ve made a lot of changes to our habits, many of which will stick with us after the pandemic.
For many of us, our daily lives have been consumed by Zoom meetings, emails and online documents more than ever before. This has meant that many people have become so used to digital interactions that they feel unsure about engaging in person.
We expect that many meetings will continue online after the pandemic, as it has proven to be a cost-effective, time-saving and eco-friendly solution for businesses.
The pandemic has caused us to re-evaluate our priorities and decide what really matters. We’ve learnt to adapt; it’s taught us what we’re capable of, and what we’re willing to sacrifice in our personal or working life as a result.
Many workers have even relocated to be closer to family or from a city to a quieter rural location.
We may see more and more people working part-time, changing their job role, or even completely switching their way of life.
A mixture of working from home and in the office is one of the many changes to everyday life that office workers will experience in the future.
Many offices no longer see the need to have workers in for a full five days a week as they have proven how well they can work from home and the benefits it can have on morale.
A recent survey in the UK highlighted that employers expect the proportion of regular home workers to double, from 18% pre-pandemic to 37% post-pandemic. A common thought process is to designate certain days for in-office meetings and collaboration, then working from home to focus on individual tasks.
As a company, we’ll be switching to three days in the office and two days at home as our new general routine, balancing the advantages of working from both spaces and keeping the office environment vibrant and productive.
The virtue of patience
As we will have all experienced throughout the pandemic, nothing is set in stone. It’s possible that we’ll experience more unexpected twists and turns in the coming months, which could include further challenging lockdowns for businesses and individuals alike.
We’ve previously written about our thoughts and advice for reopening hospitality businesses and this is still relevant for club owners now, but could be of use again for all hospitality businesses.
Anxiety is a natural survival response and completely warranted when it comes to facing a worldwide pandemic like no other experienced in our lifetimes.
It’s important for businesses to consider the effects of reopening anxiety when making plans, and for employees to be open and honest about their feelings on how they’d like to move forward.
Help is at hand! Please remember that if you are feeling overwhelmed by anything we’ve spoken about in this blog, there is always somewhere to turn for help. The Samaritans contact details can be found on their website.