How to Address Return-to-Work Anxiety

In March, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic required businesses to quickly adapt as the region shut down. After months of working remotely, the time has come for companies to emerge from their homes and safely transition back into the workplace. This is a difficult transition for many. After being advised for months to remain within our homes as much as possible, the thought of reengaging in society brings yet another wave of anxiety.  

Subtle worrying can quickly snowball, explains Olivia Remes, mental health researcher at the University of Cambridge. Before we know it, we are caught in an unhealthy cycle of chronic worrying that makes it difficult to be happy and productive.  

Below are strategies for employers and employees to help ease anxiety and build confidence as Southeast Michigan businesses reopen.  


Much of the current anxiety is rooted in uncertainty. Not knowing what to expect can result in lack of quality sleep and worry, which can lead to negative mental and physical health.  

Focus on what you can control – Do what you can to ensure your personal safety and that of your coworkers by washing your handswearing a face covering, and practicing social distancing. Recognizing and letting go of the things you cannot control will ease anxiety as you transition back into the workplace.  

Practice mindfulness regularly  To reduce anxiety, incorporate intentional mindfulness exercises into your daily routine, suggests RemesScheduling short walks, morning meditation, or trying a new recipe are simple ways to invite a greater sense of achievement and control into your life. The most important component when practicing positive activities is to do them on a consistent basis.  


Communication is key – Businesses have the responsibility to keep their workforce and customers safe. As employees move through phases of reopening, it is important to communicate the security measures you have put in placeA checklist of precautions for employers can be found here 

Encourage positive health and well-being  Encourage employees to get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat nutritious foods, and spend time outside. Healthy employees mean stronger immune systems, better productivity, and engagement.  

Employers and employees each play important roles in easing COVID-19 related anxieties. Together, we can support one another through the phases of reopening Southeast Michigan.