April 15, 2020 | Written by Kate Barone Dimock | Principal and Licensed Interior Designer
What can employers do now to prepare for a post-pandemic return to the office? “Mitigating the virus’ psychological scars can start now,”i creating physical, social, and mental safety in our workplaces. Consider these operational shifts, policies, and practices that can support the mental wellbeing of your workforce.
Many may face struggles once they return to the office. Psychology professionals predict a rise in cases of anxiety,ii but the practice of mindfulness helps people to “work with and be with anxiety rather than spiraling into worry.”iii
Confusion and uncertainty surrounding financial stability can distract people from their work. Studies show that nearly “70% of workers say financial stress is their most common cause of stress”iv and over “20% of workers spend more than five hours on the clock each week thinking about their stressors”. The end result? Nearly 41% of employees who admit their productivity levels drop due to mounting stress.v
Millennials, who comprise the “largest share of labor force and are a vital part of the economy,”vi may be the most affected from this crisis. Managers who show little concern for staff put employee morale and well-being in jeopardy.
Nearly 25% of employees may not even return to the office after the virus has subsidedx. Those that remain will maintain a safe distance, but when will people collaborate? What will spur innovation?
This virus won’t stop spreading overnight and neither will its long-term effects. Multiple “studies link psychological burdens with isolation and crises, including epidemics,”xii so be prepared to offer resources for 8-12 months. Providing a robust structure to support mental health in the office will not only address fears and concerns about the future, but will also allow people to work efficiently, adapt to a new normal, and heal.
Kate Barone Dimock is a Prosci® Certified Change Management Practitioner with a Master’s degree in Organizational Learning and Instructional Technology, as well as a licensed interior designer.
This article is part of a series that addresses the need for new design approaches to support community health resilience.
i Al Arabiya English. (2020, March 17). Coronavirus could have long-term mental health consequences: Yale doctors.
ii Moukaddam, N., & Shah, A. (2020, March 15). Psychiatrists Beware! The Impact of COVID-19 and Pandemics on Mental Health.
iii Brewer, J. A. (2020, April 3). PsychPearls: The Coronavirus Anxiety Cycle.
iv Will Our Employees Use a Financial Wellness Program if We Offer One? (n.d.).
v Otto, N. (2019, March 25). Employee stress costing employers billions in lost productivity.
vi Rabin, R. C. (2020, March 20). Young Adults Come to Grips With Coronavirus Health Risks.
vii Steelcase. (2020, April 8). Air³.
viii Space Division -Phone Booths and Office Pods- Herman Miller. (n.d.).
ix Rockwell Unscripted. (2019, April 10).
x Margolies, J. (2020, April 7). What Will Tomorrow’s Workplace Bring? More Elbow Room, for Starters.
xi Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently. Here’s How. (n.d.).
xii Hopkins, J. S., & Russell, D. (2020, April 2). The mental health effects of coronavirus are a “slow-motion disaster”.
Subscribe to our mailing list to receive D/P/S news and insights.