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How to cope with the new work normal

17.12.20

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As uncertainty about workplace opening persists, some staff might experience anxiety; Bupa Global explore how to help.

While the current advice in the UK is to work from home if possible, many businesses are looking ahead to a time when they are able to reopen their offices. But after a significant period away from the workplace, it’s perhaps no surprise that many employees are feeling anxious.

According to recent Bupa research,[i] 65% of British workers feel anxious about their return to the office. But it’s not just junior staff; senior execs are fearful, too. ‘It’s very likely that senior leaders will have their own concerns and fears,’ Dr Luke James, Medical Director Bupa Global & UK Insurance warns. ‘There can be the tendency to hide these worries, and this can have an impact on mental health.’

So how can concerns be mitigated?

MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT

According to recent research conducted by premium health insurer Bupa Global,[ii] 26% of working international high net worth individuals would like to see their company focus more on employee mental wellbeing to cope with the after effects of COVID-19 and the way it has altered businesses.

Several high-profile global companies have stepped up their offering of emotional support for employees during the pandemic, including Microsoft, Deloitte and P&G, which have set up mental health helplines for employees and their families. ‘Supporting [employees] and their families was top priority for us,’ Ira Gupta, HR Head, Microsoft India wrote on LinkedIn. ‘We rallied together to ensure that our employee policies were able to address this.’[iii]

PHYSICAL SAFETY MEASURES

Whilst we’re not sure exactly when offices will reopen en masse, many workplaces around the world are already planning physical safety measures for when they do.

That starts with safety measures including daily health screen surveys, clear operational protocols to deal with possible COVID-19 exposure, and often updating the office environment to keep workers apart.

In China, many offices take employees’ temperatures while in countries including Hong Kong and now in France, wearing a mask in the office is commonplace. Most offices around the world have increased cleaning schedules and hand sanitising stations, whilst social distancing is enforced.

FLEXIBILITY IS KEY

Of course, not all employees are anxious about a return to the daily commute. In fact, a recent YouGov poll of over 2,000 UK adults found that 40% of workers have missed workplace banter during lockdown and 34% are looking forward to socialising with office colleagues. ‘While working from home – which was definitely fun to begin with – can be more suited to some personalities, it can also lead to loneliness and less creative thinking or simply not suit certain jobs or some people, including me,’ Chris King, entrepreneur and co-founder of the workspace, Birch, admits.

Dr James believes that seeing colleagues in the flesh is important for many of us, even if it is for a few days a week: ‘We cannot underestimate the impact social contact through work has on people’s mental health,’ he says. ‘I think employees still need some presence and sense of belonging to an organisation and its culture which perhaps doesn’t come with full time remote working.’

BUPA GLOBAL RESOURCES FOR CUSTOMERS

Bupa Global has resources to help you and your family cope. If you’re a Bupa Global customer and have a health concern the Global Virtual Care (GVC) service provides confidential access to a global network of doctors by telephone or video call, with virtual appointments available 24/7 in multiple languages - enabling you to speak to a doctor at a time that suits you. Please visit our COVID-19 information hub for more details on how you can access our GVC service.

Alternatively, if you have access to Bupa Global through your employer – you and your family may be entitled to use the Employee Assistance Programme. The programme entitles Bupa Global policyholders to access trained healthcare professionals 24 hours a day, 365 days a year via phone, email or online to talk through any work, life or personal concerns.

For more information about Bupa Global health plans call 0371 346 0407 or visit bupaglobal.com/withyou

Read the full article here

Calls may be recorded. Bupa Global is a trading name of Bupa Insurance Limited and Bupa Insurance Services Limited. Bupa Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Bupa Insurance Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Global Virtual Care is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or by the Prudential Regulation Authority. Global Virtual Care is provided by Advance Medical, a Teladoc Health Company, and Everyday Resources is provided by Workplace Options LLC who are both service providers for Bupa Global. Bupa Global is not responsible for any actions or omissions carried out by these third parties in the provision of these services.

[i] According to research by Bupa Health Clinics (July 2020) https://www.bupa.co.uk/newsroom/ourviews/return-to-work-anxiety

[ii] According to figures taken from the Bupa Global Executive Wellbeing Index (September 2020), conducted by Opinium Research among 100 high net worth individuals from the UK defined as those with over £1 million (or market currency equivalent) in annual salary and investable assets

[iii] Ira Gupta’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/taking-people-first-approach-our-commitment-colleagues-ira-gupta/

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