Advice column: I feel anxious about going back to work in the office after so long at home
Dear Ash

I have been feeling really anxious lately after it was recently confirmed that we would be expected to return to work in the office in a few weeks’ time. I’m just not comfortable about going back: I’ve been working from home for over a year now and I’m used to not commuting. I’ve also put on a lot of weight during lockdown and have really low self esteem. It seems that some colleagues are happy about going back, and I don’t want to be the odd one out, but I’m just not sure how I’ll cope.

Ash Replies

Please do not assume you are alone in how you are feeling. Many of us have now got accustomed to our home office routines, and will have to endure a period of adjustment as we aim to resume pre-lockdown routines.

Some of your colleagues may be feeling just like you but may not feel able to voice their concerns openly, for the same reasons as you.

I’m sure most employers will be phasing any return to work in the office in any case. Therefore, speak to your line manager about your concerns and ask how the return to the office is likely to work in practice. You may be able to work from home the majority of the time even if the office is fully reopened. Employers are now increasingly realising the importance of providing such flexibility, where possible.

In terms of you being self conscious about your weight, again you are not alone! Many of us have gained lockdown pounds and will need time to break bad habits due to our enforced conditions. However, try to incorporate some regular exercise into your routine now that lockdown restrictions are easing. Even joining a gym class or meeting a friend for a regular walk might be a good start, and could help you to deal with your anxiety too?

We are hopefully coming out of the worst of the pandemic, in this country anyway; and the vaccination programme should provide a welcome boost towards resuming more “normality”. Therefore try to take baby steps to ease yourself back to the life you had pre-COVID – though don’t be hard on yourself as it will take time to adjust. After all, this is the life we have known for over a year now.

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and other legal professionals, which can be put to them via the editor. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. Email legaleduc@lawscot.org.uk or phone 0131 226 7411 (select option 3).

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