Returning to the Office: How to Manage Work Stress


We all experience work-related stress from time to time. But now that Covid-19 is changing the very nature of how and where we work, we’re facing brand new stressors in addition to the old ones: stay healthy, wear a mask, collaborate while staying socially distanced, tackle technology to connect virtually, don’t congregate in office kitchens (or elevators or bathrooms or conference rooms), sanitize your workstation and everything you touch, wash your hands every two seconds, and don’t even think about sneezing.

Now that it’s easier to get stressed out at the office, we have to work even harder to stay calm and protect our well-being. Read on for some tips to manage work stress.

Start Your Day Well

Setting yourself up for a good day can make a big difference. Try to make your morning as low-key and smooth as possible by planning ahead. The night before, think about what you’ll eat for breakfast, pack for lunch, and wear, and have it all ready to go. That way, you can enjoy a good breakfast and get out the door with ease.

Leverage Your Commute

Commuting can be extremely stressful. From traffic to a broken-down metro or bus, things can go wrong that set your mood for the rest of the day. Instead of spending your time stressing about your current situation or how much work you have to do, use this time to find some calm and even enjoyment: listen to music, discover a new podcast, or enjoy a good audiobook. Do something that both takes your mind off of stress and enriches your mind.

Know the Covid-19 Facts

It’s easy to be anxious about contracting the virus, but don’t give into misinformation. Know the real facts about Covid-19 and arm yourself with knowledge. If you know the recommended steps to take to stay safe and healthy in the office, you can follow those guidelines and feel satisfied that you’re doing everything you can.

Identify Your Triggers

Take a moment to figure out exactly what causes you the most stress at work. Is it when you have too many projects? When it’s time to do the monthly report? When meetings keep you from getting work done? Once you identify your biggest triggers, you can problem solve and take steps to avoid the stressor (say no to meetings when possible) or manage your response (commiserate with a coworker or find a breathing technique to center yourself).

Confide in Your Colleagues

Don’t keep your stress to yourself, especially now. We’re all in the same boat, and likely have similar fears and stressors. Talk to your coworkers about how you feel and be there for them as well. If you’re overwhelmed with work and need assistance to make a change, approach your supervisor, and be honest. Nothing good will happen by sitting in silence, so speak up and be proactive.

Discuss What’s Expected of You

These circumstances are new to everyone, so it’s wise to talk with your boss about what’s expected of you in this new normal. Will you be in the office every day? Do you have to be there for a full eight hours? It’s important to be on the same page and be flexible as the pandemic continues to evolve.

Take Breaks

It might be more challenging to take a break during the workday when you can’t gather in the kitchen or feel safe going out to eat, but it’s still important to step away from work. Try taking a walk, eating in a different location, or shifting your focus to something else, like reading a book or listening to music.

Take Care of Yourself

It’s always important to eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise, but it can be especially helpful when trying to manage stress. Ignoring stress can lead to bigger health issues like anxiety, depression, and even high blood pressure and an increased risk of a heart attack.

Above all else, make sure you’re not suffering in silence. If you’re having trouble managing stress and the resulting symptoms, reach out to a healthcare professional to see how they can help you cope.


Optimum Coworking is here to help you get the most out of your office space and figure out a back to the office plan for you.