3 keys to thriving in the hybrid workplace.


  • The shift to remote work was stressful but also decreased anxiety for many workers.
  • Routines, intentional breaks, and realistic expectations can help reduce anxiety as people return to the office.
  • More workplaces are offering hybrid options to retain talent, so it may be reasonable to ask for flexibility.
Photo by Teona Swift from Pexels

Make your workplace feel like home.Source: Photo by Teona Swift from Pexels

Many workers experienced a sense of relief following vaccination and welcomed an early summer of relaxed restrictions. There was a rush on travel, and employers removed some safety protocols.

The break from the masks and anxiety was short-lived as the Delta variant started spikes around the country. Some workers now want more safety protocols; others value freedom of choice and are suing employers who mandate vaccination.

Companies are barely keeping up with their internal policies as the CDC issued updated masking requirements late last month. The constantly changing landscape is creating a new level of stress, the anxiety of moving backward.

Many workers simply never returned, either changing jobs or continuing remote work. The shift many workers complained about had some unexpected benefits, so more offices are shifting to hybrid work options to retain top talent.

How Remote Work Decreased Anxiety

Kids and pets can distract parents working from home, but loved ones also support intentional breaks. Without a commute, the morning routine was less rushed. Families could eat breakfast and lunch together. Employees could use breaks around scheduled calls or meetings for chores like laundry or walking the dog.

Breaks may seem counterproductive, but they help our brains perform more efficiently when we do log on. Perspectives toward work shifted as the pandemic was a pause to consider what’s essential in life. Competitions with coworkers seemed less critical.

Society views return to business as usual as a win, but many will experience it as a loss. Here are three mindfulness tips to ease the anxiety associated with the new normal.

1. Practice

One core feature of yoga is conscious movement. The ritual of getting the body ready for work is a practice like yoga. People returning to work may need to practice getting ready again to avoid feeling rushed.

Prepare lunch or an outfit the night before and load up your bag with comfort items. These simple tasks helped us get ready for school as a child and routines are reassuring for our minds.

Slipping into formal business attire, heels, or full makeup may feel alien or unnecessary, particularly if masking is required. Sweatpants probably won’t cut it, but other comforts like a favorite mug or fragrance can remind you of home. Surround yourself with plants or other fun items.

Your loved ones shouldn’t only exist in your phone. Print out some pictures. Visual reminders will decrease separation anxiety.

2. Breathe

It can be that simple; noticing the breath is a quick yet intentional break at your desk. Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the opposing force to the fight or flight response associated with stress. We can reset our nervous systems.

We are designed to breathe from our bellies, not our chest. Relaxing the abdomen allows more room for the diaphragm to contract, giving the lungs more space to fill up with air. Breathe out with a little extra drawing in of the belly button. There is no need to strain; breathe naturally in and out through the nostrils.

3. Let go of the “shoulds”

Next, take note of whether your inhales and exhales are equal. Breathe in for a count of five, then try to balance the breath by breathing out for the count of five.

Letting go of beliefs about how things “should be” helps us live with the unknown.

Think like an Olympic hurdler and trust your body will know what to do. We can’t imagine Grant Holloway or Sydney McLaughlin falling flat on their face during a race, but what if they overthought every jump?

Exposure therapy can help workers gain confidence during these times of change. Think about tasks as a series of baby steps. Just like Bill Murray in the movie What about Bob? Not really, but think about what is needed to get to the next step.

Flexibility is key.

Preparing, resetting our nervous system, and realistic expectations decrease anxiety. Take the time to think about your needs and don’t judge progress too harshly.

Workplaces may be more flexible in helping workers solve problems. Just ask.

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