According to recent research, UK employee anxiety levels have increased by 240% in one year. The research carried out by employee engagement and survey experts, Inpulse, shows that anxiety is the most dominant negative emotion at work, closely followed by stress which has also increased.
Similar studies paint the same picture and with anxiety and stress leading to over 11 million lost working days a year, isn’t it time employers took action to alleviate some of the issues contributing to these rises?
Factors affecting anxiety amongst employees
There’s no denying that working from home over the past few months has increased stress and anxiety for many employees. What, at the start of lockdown, looked like a welcome opportunity has led many to feel isolated. It has been harder to separate work life and personal life and a lot of employees have reported working longer hours. Added to this, many employees have been juggling childcare, home schooling or caring for a vulnerable person.
At the start of lockdown, there was much talk about how the pandemic would change when, where and how we worked. In our blog ‘Is this the end of the office?’, we discussed how employees are wanting to return to the office and the opportunities this presents to employers.
Returning to the office
Just as working from home has increased anxiety amongst many employees, the fear of coming out of lockdown and returning to the workplace, is also having an impact on anxiety.
Employers need to think about how they are going to ensure they keep their employees safe and give them the confidence to return. Read our blog ‘Life after lockdown‘ – Reintroducing Employees to the workplace’, where we discuss measures that employers to take in the short-term to increase safety and restore confidence.
If you currently have an open plan office layout, you could be adding to your employees’ anxiety.
For many employees, particularly introverts, having to interact with a variety of different people in an open plan office, can cause severe anxiety. This can impact on productivity and, of course, mental health and wellbeing. Simple tasks such as making a phone call or discussing a task with a colleague can send dopamine levels through the roof.
How to solve anxiety issues in the workplace
For anyone designing an office space or concerned about their employees’ health and wellbeing, they need to think about the office layout and the impact this has on employees’ anxiety levels.
Five office design considerations to decrease employee anxiety levels
1. Increase the spacing between desks/workstations to aid social distancing
2. Install safety screens to reduce spread of infection and increase confidence
3. Implement one-way systems around the office
4. Introduce booths and partitions to create cost-effective private spaces for individuals and small groups
5. Create informal areas to allow a change of scene and more relaxed working
If you need any assistance in planning your office space, we offer professional advice and product solutions. Our mission is to make workplaces, and associated environments, pleasurable for staff to want to come and work in.
How to accommodate social distancing measures in the office
To help you redesign your workspace to accommodate the appropriate social distancing measures, we have put together a compilation of design and layout ideas.