As our lives and work environments continue to evolve in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, most organizations are now planning to implement a hybrid work model at some point soon, which would mean a return to the office, at least some of the time, for many. Regardless of whether you are excited, indifferent, or averse to the idea of being back in the office, there are likely more than a few concerns or possible risk factors that come to mind when considering this possibility:
- When and how will the return to office take place?
- What will it look like to rebalance my work and life commitments?
- How will restrictions and safety be managed and maintained?
We continue to be met with uncertainty and more questions than answers surrounding the future of work. Unfortunately, risk (and the fear it often provokes) paired with prolonged uncertainty creates the perfect storm for anxiety. This can make adjusting to and accepting workplace changes even more difficult, and begs the question… how can we navigate uncertainty and fear through the transition to hybrid work? In this two-part article, we will look at some of the ways we can do just that!
Reframe extreme thinking: when our thinking (and emotions) become extreme, we tend not to see as many options for changing the situation or our reaction to it. If you’re uncomfortable with returning to the office, reframe the situation as something unpleasant, rather than terrible. Seeing it as a challenge to overcome, rather than a reality to live with, will offer you more motivation to make the most of it. Take time to consider the positive aspects and things you might look forward to (e.g., socializing, reconnecting, and the potential for collaboration).
Avoid trying to solve everything: learning to live with the fact that change and uncertainty are constants and resisting the temptation to try and solve every problem in advance of it happening will be a more helpful tool than you think. Try asking yourself if your worry has had a positive impact (i.e., are you closer to a solution and/or do you feel better because of it?). If not, see what you can do to process the worry (e.g., through journaling or speaking to a health care professional) rather than solve the problem.
Engage in constructive worry: if you find yourself regularly imagining the worst-case-scenario, try to complement this by considering other possible scenarios too, including the best case. The more you focus or attend to a thought, the more likely you are to believe it is true. Taking the time to expand your perception of what is possible makes it less likely that you’ll be drawn to the worst case as a probable or likely outcome.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article, where we will look at a few more tips and tricks for navigating the transition to hybrid work!
By April Dyrda, M.Sc., Registered Provisional Psychologist