The Return to the Workplace Post Lockdown

Is it remote working? Hybrid working? Getting back to the workplace? Do you feel like your hot desking or are you excited to return to the workplace?

I remember a time when a work from home day was deemed a cheeky way of justifying a day off. Things have rightly changed in a very short time and as I myself return to a more physically engaged working environment; in person training, networking events, live shows and events, I felt it important to share some resources and thoughts around how getting back to the workplace might be impacting those who are now encouraged or instructed to get back to the office!

“I’m worried this will become your new normal”. A very honest comment from my wife as I mapped out a busy October and November for live in person training events across the UK. It means a few nights away, longer days and some supporting events around it. It was a comment that made me realise that my return to an in person working environment had direct implications on her day to day and indeed our family responsibilities.Adapting to a more normal way of working.

There was a collective sigh of relief as we were freed from lockdown life – seeing loved ones and regaining some sense of normality outlines the future with hope. But as the nation snaps back into old workplace routines, how are fathers feeling about returning to the workplace?

Societies around the world are facing a historic period of uncertainty and loneliness. Research conducted by WorkingDads found that over a third of working dads felt isolated during lockdown.

Cabin fever crept across the nation – it’s no surprise that some fathers might be feeling a bit rusty getting back into the groove of things!

“Give yourself permission to slow down.” – Gabby Berstien.

Avoid parental burnout

Be the tortoise, not the hare. Working life can be fast paced and intense, but it shouldn’t disconnect you from yourself and the rest of your life. A poll commissioned exclusively for Good Morning Britain, by Savanta ComRes, interviewed 1,036 UK parents of children aged 4–18 and found that 45% of parents felt burnt out and 64% found the last lockdown to be tougher than the previous. Parental burn out is a common issue, you are not alone!

45% of parents with children aged between 4 – 18 years old felt burn out at some point. (Savanta ComRes)

Talking with people who are in the same boat can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Men Up North & Dads In Business strive to open dialogue as a safe place for men to talk about mental health related topics. Dads in Business focuses on the pressures and responsibilities of being a dad in business or in a busy and highly pressured work environment with safe spaces and forums to have honest conversations.

Why is it important now to have more open discussion in the workplace?

The nature of lockdown life and repercussions of the pandemic has taken its toll on mental health. Data taken from a Co-SPACE sample shows a rise in stress, depression and anxiety in parents from 2020 to 2021:

The rise in stress, depression and anxiety have increased during lockdown

Our own research, polling those who attend our sessions across a host of topics, suggest a marked increase in ‘always on’ mentality, meaning there is no time for Dads to switch off or be ok with not working, especially when remote working. Increases in guilt, distraction and anxiety are all more increasingly common yet as Dads we feel it necessary to wear a ‘mask’ and to continually share an outward perception that everything is fine yet our polling suggests an internal challenge with dealing with the many roles of Dad and the expectations that come with those roles.Dads In Business research insights.

Is there enough support in the workplace for working fathers?

Feeling like a social alien is perfectly normal after being shut away from reality for so long, but is there enough support in the workplace for fathers?

The change in everyday routine, working alongside others again whilst worrying about health and money can be overwhelming. Some may even be experiencing separation anxiety from their homes as their safe space amidst the pandemic. It is important that you protect your mental health in the return to work; If you are experiencing work related anxiety or struggling with your mental health, open the conversations with your employer.

Having found a ‘work from home’ routine that worked for me and the family it has been challenging to find the work / life blend that works again in what is a more ‘back to the coal face’ approach. Longer days with physical visits and more travel time has an impact on the expectations and pressures at home. It is important to address this and reach a join understanding and agreement for what is expect, acceptable and what we can do together as a family unit to support the shift back to more remote, hybrid and in person working again.

Communication really is key here. It’s the responsibility of the employer to check in on their employee’s wellbeing in the workplace. This is called the psychological contract – one that focuses on security, prospects, training and development, fairness and support. Employers can show their support to fathers by offering flexibility, being supportive of all workers inclusive of culture and gender and increasing paternity or parental leave.

In these difficult and uncertain times, it is paramount that individuals’ needs are being considered.

Not everyone can move at the same pace!

Read: How are Dads getting on in a changed workplace?

Further resources about what employers can do to support fathers post lockdown and during the move to remote, hybrid or workplace working.

Mengage: 7 ways employers can support men be more engaged fathers

Nuffield Health: How employers can support staff with coronavirus anxiety

Harvard Business Review: 8 ways managers can support employees mental health

Supporting Men & Dads in the workplace

Download our free guide to help employers create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for men and dads.

Supporting Men & Dads in the workplace

Download our free guide to help employers create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for men and dads.