Employees report feeling more anxiety as dates set for their return to in-person work

Updated: Apr. 10, 2021 at 12:23 PM EDT
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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS News) - More than 75% of American executives plan to ask their employees to be back in the office by July, according to a national survey.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers survey finds 68% of bosses want people in the office at least three days a week, whereas 55% of workers want to be remote at least three days a week.

After more than a year of masking up, sheltering in place, and working from home, the concept of returning is causing stress levels to spike in a way that mirrors the beginning of the lockdown.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Jonathan Horowitz says more people have been reaching out because of the pandemic, and now he’s seeing the stressors of returning to so-called “normal” show up in therapy sessions.

“At the beginning it was all, how do we take it offline? How do we move home? How do we deal with that? And now it’s: How do we go in the other direction?” he says.

Jennifer Hymes is a licensed clinical social worker. She says the pandemic exacerbated existing conditions and situations for some who were already struggling.

“I saw a definite increase in people getting back on medication, increasing medication, a lot of insomnia, lot of panic attacks,” she says.

Hymes suggests a hybrid model for returning to work might ease the transition.

“I’m gonna go back twice a week. I’m gonna see how I like it,” Hymes says. “And I’ve already had clients who have done that, and for some, they love it, and for some it really does feel weird.”

Sean Lama says he’s looking forward to getting back to work, with one exception.

“My main concern is public transportation to be honest because even before the pandemic, I actually would catch colds all the time,” he says.

Doctors say once you’re back, keeping strict work boundaries can help relieve stress.

“When I log off from work, I’m done. And it’s made a huge difference,” Lama says.

The pandemic has taken a toll on mental health, so doctors recommend talking with your health care provider if you have concerns.

A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds 41% of adults report having anxiety and/or depression right now.

Before the pandemic, that number was 11%.

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