Covid-Related Anxiety and Distress in the Workplace: A Three Part Guide For Managers and Colleagues 3/3

Part 3 ADAPT to change: Diverse workplace situations and adjusting to the ‘new normal’

Working from home has become widespread since restrictions to control Covid-19 were introduced in the UK. This has meant a major shift for individuals and organisations. Some have found it a positive experience. Others have struggled to adjust to new environments and work patterns. As lockdown measures are relaxed, homeworking is expected to continue making it the ‘new normal’ for many.

In order to adapt to the changes ahead, try to inform yourself of any new requirements and prepare what you need to reduce potential anxiety.



Concern about exposure to the virus: Follow up-to-date government advice. Consult staff about physical changes to the workplace or working procedures to limit the risk of exposure.


  • Engage with Colleagues so that they can feed into and influence changes and solutions.
  • Communicate changes clearly.
  • Monitor the changes and report back to Colleagues.
  • Extend home working arrangements e.g. especially when workers, or their families, are at higher risk.
  • Use graded or phased return plans to support returning to work.
  • Provide support for staff experiencing excessive anxiety.


Risk on public transport? Extend home working and ensure access to resources for effective working (e.g. laptops/workstations, etc). Offer flexible working hours to allow commuting outside peak times. Encourage cycling to work, and consider offering face masks and hand gel for commuters. Feeling unable to perform effectively? Check whether this is an accurate perception. What is the evidence? How do we know? It may be helpful to temporarily change the tasks or targets being assigned to people. Consider resources and skills needed for performing effectively or ‘well-enough’. Be alert for signs of stress and mental or physical ill-health; follow this up.



Need time to prepare? Before returning to work, try visualising what the new workplace will look like. What is the layout? What are the procedures? You could request photos and ask managers about the changes. Consider what it will be like to have more people around.


Concerned about public transport? Plan journeys in advance to avoid overcrowded services.

Need to upskill? Do you need new skills or resources? Discuss these with your manager.

Are you seeing the gains? New ways of working can create opportunities as well as challenges or threats. You may learn new skills or find that things work more effectively. Be flexible. Adjustment can take time. Don’t expect too much of yourself too soon.


Source: British Psychological Society GUIDANCE Covid-related anxiety and distress in the workplace: A guide for Managers and Colleagues | BRE40a | 02.09.2020

Written by:

Marie Church
RN BSc Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (OH) Expert Witness
Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist MSc (BABCP Accredited)