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Why the Lockdown Easing is Making some People Highly Anxious

Written by: Agnes Gomori, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

The easing of lockdown is one of the happiest news for many of us in the UK this year, but it created a new type of anxiety for some.

We are all in unity about wanting to socialize like it’s 2019 again and being able to enjoy London’s rich cultural life. But opinions are not so much united about going back to the office full time.


It took people only a few weeks to realize during the first lockdown how easy it is to create that work-life balance they yearned for. The flexibility of working from home and the extra time spared by not commuting is the holy grail that many people don’t want to give up.


Last summer, when we had a slice of normality back as some of the lockdown restrictions were removed, there was a big divide between those who wanted to get back to the office full-time and those who preferred flexible working as a permanent feature. It was quickly and wrongly assumed that it’s the introverted types who prefer the latter. Fast forward to Spring 2021, and returning to the office is once again very relevant. The difference this time is that even those who describe themselves as people-orientated and extroverts are also preferred to keep the flexible working.


One of the main reasons people miss the office is so they can socialize with colleagues. This is typically true for people in their 20s and early 30s because they are not settled yet, and they are likely to establish their circle of friends at work. But those who are in their mid-30s and up tend to have a more settled life. They understandably prefer to work from home or at least have a flexible working schedule.


Although we call it 9-5, for many, finishing at 5 pm was often a myth and long unpaid overtime was the reality. When we add the commute, which in London was typically between 3–5 hours daily, it’s easy to see why no one feels to rush back to how things were.


Employers invested heavily in the well-being of employees in the last few years. Serviced office buildings offering lunchtime yoga, head, and shoulder massages have quickly become the new norm. More and more places allowed staff to take their dogs to work, and later they were joined by other staff pets such as cats, ferrets, or even parrots.


The aim was to create a home from home experience, reduce stress levels and boost productivity. The communal spaces were generously spaced with ultra-sleek design, but more often than not, the offices were tiny cramped glass cages or huge and noisy open-space offices with harsh neon lights. This has resulted that staff often preferred to work outside of their designated office, in the airier, communal areas.


Teams with great leadership recognized that offering flexible working equaled high performance, and employees continued to excel. Those teams who only had the promise of flexibility ‘sometimes in the future’ felt left out and quietly rebelled.


No cute dogs in the office or fancy cappuccino served with shoulder massage was going to replace the most important thing: Trust. The trust that staff can be happier, more productive if they are offered flexible working.


When the choice of working from home became a reality for office workers because of the pandemic, something magical happened. Those leaders who had the titles but not the leadership qualities were forced to realize that micromanaging their teams was no longer an option. Because of this newly found trust, their team performed better. However, if managers abused it, staff were no longer afraid to leave because they experienced it first-hand ‘how the other half lives.’ The other half, who’s not afraid to speak up and ask for what is their right: to enjoy a supportive and flexible working environment.


An increasing number of clients who initially asked me to help manage their stress levels ended up successfully changing jobs, retraining themselves, or starting a new business. Lockdown has affected many people’s mental health, but the trick is to find that one good thing in a scary situation. The solitude, the lack of seeing family and friends, had to be replaced with something valuable, something worth waking up to. Those who acknowledged that there is no point in fighting the things they can’t change and should focus on what they can change came out winners.


We were so used to being busy all the time, but the lockdown restrictions forced us to slow down to a minimum and look within. It was the first time they ever dare to go deep and think through how they want to live their lives for many people. Hiding away from their own thoughts was no longer an option. They realized they are responsible for their own happiness and not others. They also admitted that their previous work-life balance was anything but balanced.


People went through major changes in their lives last year, resulting in becoming more spiritual and more at peace with themselves. Some started a family after years of saying that they don’t want children. Some finally got pregnant after the daily long commute, and the office stress was no longer present in their lives. Some fall in love online after several zoom dates without even seeing each other in real life. Some bravely got out of their co-dependent relationship and now embracing the single life.


But work relationships, friendships, and family aside, the most precious relationship we had time to focus on is the one with ourselves. We've built new standards for ourselves around things we want in our life and things which are to be banished for good.


Challenging situations bring new opportunities. One of them was the continuous creation of a more humane working culture to help to prevent further mass burnout, which, as we know now, can no longer be regarded as a badge of honor.


Conclusion:


Anxiousness caused by the possibility of going back to full-time city life is causing sleepless nights for many. Employees now rank having more time (such as not having to commute) higher than getting a pay rise.


When change is forced upon us, it's human nature to want to resist it. We want to hold on to the familiar. But being inflexible and not being open to change is no longer an option.

Replacing office life fully with remote working is not the ultimate solution, but offering flexible working is. Aside from high performance and loyalty, employees will also thank their employers for fewer sick leaves. Because for a company to be successful, trust needs to work both ways.


Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and visit my website for more info!


 

Agnes Gomori, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Agnes Gomori is an Intuitive Life Coach and Healer. As a multi-passionate, creative Empath, Agnes is committed to helping fellow Empaths to find their true calling by applying the healing power of arts and nature, which she combines with energy healing in her therapeutic coaching sessions. Agnes has helped clients from across the globe to unlock their true potential. Her mission is to help extroverted Empaths become the empowered creators they were born to be.

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