I wrote recently about The F Word (Furlough) where I described how my 100mph life had halted to a stop over night and how that had affected me mentally and physically. It generated a lot of discussion and great feedback as we all take note of Mental Health Awareness Week.
In the last 8 weeks since lockdown began, the heavenly bird song has become louder than ever, the streets are filled with people exercising and having meaningful walks with their families, there are no cars on the roads, no commuter traffic to worry about, and you can even find rice, pasta and loo roll in the supermarkets. Fast forward to now a place where people are considering venturing out to shops, parks, and even back to work. I sensed a dramatic shift after last week’s government announcement to ease the restrictions which meant people emerging from hibernation in their droves.... mostly to B&Q.
Whilst talking to those who have started to go back to work, I wondered, have we considered the impact that this freedom and speedy return to ‘normal’ is going to have on people’s mental wellbeing? With this weeks Mental Health Awareness campaign, I am catching up with an old colleague to do a recording talking about our experiences of mental ill-health and how we see this situation unfolding.
Not only will the nature of the work be demanding on so many as we start to rebuild the economy which has been annihilated, but the resurrection of our daily rigid routines! Diary management, family management, doing the 9-5, getting dressed up again… its going to take some time to get back up to where we left off with our resilience to the day to day dramas.
It was only the other day I saw a friend post about how he had returned to work and on his first day had mentally crumbled with the volume of work he had walked back into. Numerous phones and radios loudly ringing, suppliers at the doors, email inboxes close to bursting. The noise, the hustle and bustle, the demand on our time, how quickly we can turn round a tight deadline, our resilience. After acclimatising to a slower existence and living in a bubble of tranquillity – was it all too much too soon?
So, I ask the question – as an employer, what are you doing to help your people transition back into work? And as an employee, what are your return to work strategies going to be to look after your physical and mental wellbeing? Although we are all enjoying this slower pace of life, we all know that this is not going to last forever. We need to plan now for a phased return to work strategy to ensure that we can all cope with the ‘new normal’ whatever that will look like…