As restrictions ease many people are beginning to go back into their places of work.
After so long working from home and against the strange, unsettling landscape of the pandemic, it is not surprising that the idea of returning to a workplace is making many people feel anxious.
Concerns about managing work/life balance, social anxieties after working from home for an extended period and social distancing on the commute, all feature among the worries that people have about returning to a physical place of work.
How Maggie's can help
With 25 years of expertise helping people with cancer manage their emotions, we at Maggie’s felt we could help.
Thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we recently ran a webinar to give employers the tools they need to support employees as they look towards returning to the workplace.
We offered tips to manage natural fears and tricky emotions as well as advice on making the transition as smooth as possible. Our lead psychologist led a session on anxiety about being close to people again, loss of confidence and building resilience. One of our occupational therapists also shared a practical exercise that employers can encourage their employees to undertake when they return to work, to help them manage the physical, cognitive, social and psychological demands of returning to the office.
What people thought
The feedback we received showed that 100 per cent of those who watched on the day found the content helpful and 100 per cent said they would watch similar webinars in the future.
It is really gratifying that we can use our expertise in this way. We are here to help people to live well with cancer, but as we can see from our Returning to the Workplace webinar, much of our expertise can have value elsewhere.
We pride ourselves in our high-quality professional support, support that gives people the tools they need to live well with cancer. To not lose the ‘joy of living in the fear of dying’ as our founder Maggie Keswick Jencks said. And there is no reason that support cannot be used more widely when appropriate. I really hope that our webinar will help a few people at least feel a little less anxious about heading back into the workplace over the summer. I also hope they may even start to remember the value of having face-to-face contact with other people.
This is another lesson from our centres. We adapted quickly to the first lockdown by offering support by phone, email and digitally alongside the support we were able to offer in our centres where possible. We knew how important it was that we could still support people during such extraordinary times, but we have never lost sight of the fact that in-person support provides a richness and quality of connection that is missing from conversations by phone or even zoom. We also know how people benefit from physically being in our centres, designed as they are to enhance wellbeing.
There is no doubt virtual living has been useful and has a place as we have all discovered during the pandemic, but it is no substitute to being with other people in cafes, workplaces and, especially, in our centres.