Society diversity

Reopening of company and offices causes unexpected anxiety

This article is part of the Future of Work Briefing, a weekly email with stories, interviews, trends and links on the evolution of work, workplaces and the workforce. Register here.

For many people, getting back to the office, face-to-face meetings, and business meetings just can’t happen fast enough.

For others, the idea of ​​shared desktop devices, the lack of social distancing, and the expectation of being social again fills them with dread.

There is anxiety in all industries, but especially in industries where being able to communicate effectively in person has always been a part of the job. This includes the creative industries, hospitality, recruiting and sales.

Many workers fear catching COVID-19 and being in crowded spaces at work; or concerned about potential risks when traveling to and from the office. Still, they appreciate the perks of going back. These include seeing colleagues again, separating private and professional life, and avoiding online presenteeism and screen fatigue.

Dan Harding, CEO of global contactless desktop reception technology company The Sign In App, said his employees and those at other companies need to re-engage with the physical workspace. Employers need to plan ahead and ensure that shared workspaces and recreation rooms are not only safe, but perceived to be safe.

“This involves knowing that your employer is monitoring staff and on-site visitors at all times to meet contact tracing requirements,” said Harding. “Adding health questionnaires to the login process is an effective way to track the mental and physical well-being of employees upon returning from office work. “

A study by Invisibility, a St. Louis-based research company, found that 55% of workers are now ready to return to the office, with men more willing than women to return. Since the youngest are the more cautious, employers will need to be empathetic and flexible in dealing with individual concerns.

At London-based design agency 20ten, co-founder and managing partner Olly Blitz is busy making his office more attractive. It provides for a chef on site once a month, early arrival times every other Friday during the summer, and meetings outside on the office balcony with barbecues whenever the weather in London permits.

“We want to create the right environment for the return, so we are increasing the membership. We have a new address, a balcony and an incredible space for the team to enjoy, ”he said.

But what about attending industry events? It is likely that we will see a return to lectures and face-to-face exhibitions as soon as possible.

This is certainly true in the music industry which thrives on global networking opportunities. Steve Redmond, vice president of global corporate communications for BMG record label, has been part of the company’s global team that has been coordinating its response to the pandemic since February 2020.

He said that, like most businesses, BMG has gone through different stages in terms of staff support. Initially there was a reluctance to have people work remotely, now the challenge is to get some people back, especially if they have lost the habit of socializing.

“Our Australian operation is now back in the office, concerts are taking place there and the experience to date has been that the desire to hold face-to-face meetings and socialize in what is fundamentally a human endeavor wins out. away on any nervousness, ”Redmond said.

BMG followed the team’s sentiment with surveys and the results showed that staff have a strong desire to keep some element of work at bay, but people clearly value face-to-face contact. “Our approach as a business during this transition period will be light. As always, we aim to be responsive to individual needs, ”added Redmond.

Recruitment is another area where physical interactions are at the heart of business. Jake Eletto, chief of staff at New York-based recruiting firm Noor Staffing Group, said he recognizes there are issues with anxiety.

“We are seeing a wide range of feelings and behaviors being manifested right now. Some candidates and clients are anxious and nervous and others are excited and ready to get back to normal, ”he said. “I believe in letting people decide for themselves rather than dictating how to act. If anyone wants to keep running things virtually, go ahead. If anyone else wants to take advantage of the value of an old-fashioned face-to-face connection, I totally agree.

Top 5 Tips to manage post-pandemic anxiety:

Katy McMinn, co-founder of HRi, the professional body for independent HR professionals, gives employers this advice:

Identify individual concerns before people go back to the office

Accept anxiety at work no matter how old a person is

Employee return phase back to office

Make start and end times flexible so people can move around at quieter hours

Normalize anxiety and provide employees with additional support including advice.

3 questions with Solly Solomou, CEO and co-founder of LADbible

Explain the strategy behind your introduction of fertility treatment leave, pregnancy loss, and childcare allowances last week, and why this is so essential for both retention and attraction of diverse talent. by LADbible Group.
We understand and encourage our colleagues to have a good work-life balance. We truly believe that when people feel cared for and recognized, they are doing the best they can. We have already improved maternity, paternity, shared parental leave and adoption leave policies, but we know that starting a family is not always easy, so we have created new LADfamily offers to further support our team. We hope that all current and future employees believe that as a company we are committed to supporting their lives, both inside and outside of work and, ultimately, we will help to both to retain and attract diverse talent.

To what extent has the pandemic played in accelerating this strategy or in highlighting additional areas in need of support?
The past year has given us the opportunity to look at employee well-being on a much larger scale. Of course, everyone is different, but we saw some common themes and that fed into our larger HR strategy. Since the pandemic, we have been organizing wellness boxes, speakers, sessions on nutrition, sleep, mental health and finances as well as virtual exercise classes. We already had a generous maternity, paternity, adoption and SPL compensation policy, but LADfamily is the next step in our ambition to help employees balance work and family life. Treating fertility and pregnancy loss touches the lives of so many people, but people say it’s still taboo to talk about it. We wanted to create an ambitious set of policies that not only guarantee paid time off, but start the conversation around those challenges. The pandemic has also been a challenge for people with families who have tried to balance work and home schooling. By introducing a wage sacrifice childcare program, we also hope to financially support people who already have families and we would like to see more brands follow suit.

To what extent do you associate the ratio of senior women leaders in the company with your introduction of the diversity and inclusion strategy in 2020?
In July 2020, we launched our D&I strategy which set ambitious goals around equitable representation in our teams, including female leaders, but also looked at diversity from a broader perspective. We have hired some brilliant senior female talent over the past 12 months and our ratio of female leaders has increased significantly. At the end of May, we will be asking our employees to complete our second D&I survey, to help us better understand how we are tracking our progress against our goals, including female leadership. This will help us see where we have improved, but also where we need to keep working hard. We’re really happy with what we’ve accomplished, but look forward to continuing this work into 2021 and beyond.

By the numbers

  • 30% in 2,000 American adults said their employer provided many mental health resources and their loyalty to their employer increased as a direct result. 42% said their employer did not provide enough mental health support and 29% said their loyalty had diminished as a result.
    [Source of data: Travelers Mental Wellness Checkup report.]
  • 28% over 10,940 millennials believe the pandemic will have a long-term negative impact on their mental health, and 25% that this will have a negative impact on their professional success.
    [Source of data: GlobalWebIndex’s Consumer Trends 2021 report.]
  • 48% of 1,000 European IT decision makers said cybersecurity infrastructure will be a key technology investment priority over the next year as they embrace more permanent remote working models, while 40% said computer training for staff and 37% said to equip employees with devices.
    [Source of data: Dynabook and Walnut’s The Hybrid Shift: Managing an Increasingly Remote Workforce report.]

What else we have covered

  • “My biggest concern is that this is seen as a short-term problem that can be solved by numbers”: For the latest in our Confessions series, we spoke to a senior media executive who is concerned that Diversity quotas keep the symbolism alive and well and don’t. t cancel unconscious prejudices.
  • During the pandemic, businesses drastically reduced their energy and paper consumption and reduced their office footprint. This has given new life to the green efforts of some companies in which sustainability has become a whole new rallying cry.
  • While pandemic restrictions have resulted in many content productions being shut down, some agencies have found ingenious ways to maintain staff safety while maintaining production. New York-based creative boutique Socialfly was one of them. We took a look at how the agency consolidated and transformed its corporate headquarters into a studio with fake bedrooms, living rooms, and other modifiable setups.

A good read

This newsletter is edited by Jessica Davies, Editor-in-Chief, Future of Work, Digiday. For any information related to FOW, please send me a message at