As widespread vaccination against COVID-19 continues in Ontario, many lawyers are transitioning from working at their kitchen tables to working at the office. With this in mind, here are some considerations and observations on returning to the office after spending almost 20 months working from home.
Managing COVID-19-related anxiety: If you are stressed or anxious about returning to the workplace, know that you are not alone. Most of us spent 2020, and a good part of 2021, doing our best to keep in-person interactions to a minimum. For some, the thought of sharing eight or more hours with people outside your “bubble” is daunting. To manage COVID-19-related anxiety, consider speaking with your principal, team lead, or human resources department about a gradual return to the office. However, if you are concerned that your nerves may be more than just jitters, consider contacting the Member Assistance Program for free services, including confidential counselling, online resources, and peer-to-peer support.
If you are in a supervisory position, consider canvasing your team to see how they feel about returning to the office. Clear communication of expectations on in-person office attendance, the use of personal protective equipment, social distancing, and COVID-19 vaccination status (and accommodation) is critical so that everyone is on the same page. Be patient with and respect the varying comfort levels of colleagues during the return to the office.