Workplace stress

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Some of us may welcome a return to an in-person workspace after months of being at home, but what you left months ago is most likely not the routine you'll be returning to.

"Now, they've got to re-shift again, and it's not going back to the normal workplace. It's going back to a modified workplace," said Dr. K. Luan Phan, a psychiatrist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Phan is an expert in behavioral health. He said uncertainty over a long period of time creates unhealthy levels of stress. He said to alleviate anxiety, employers should create a return to work plan that outlines safety precautions. Those may include daily temperature checks, keeping workspaces more than six feet apart, providing face coverings, and meeting one-on-one instead of in groups. Phan also said the physical ways we used to show co-workers support are no longer appropriate.

"We shake hands. We give hugs. We give high fives and ultimately, with a face mask on, we can't express our emotions in a way that we typically would," Phan explained.

Phan said workers will need to verbalize support for each other instead, as we reconnect in a new workplace environment.

Phan said right now, it's important to not let your guard down. It's normal to relax once you get into a familiar setting. Continue practicing good hand hygiene and keep hand sanitizer and wipes nearby, and don't go to work if you don't feel well.