Someone who is absent from work due to stress takes 21.2 days off on average, totalling 11 million days lost for UK businesses each year. The impact of workplace stress is enormous, and those doing office support jobs in London are not immune. At our London recruitment agency, we’re highly aware of the additional pressures that workers are experiencing due to coronavirus. It’s also reported that the current situation is exacerbating stress and anxiety in those with existing mental health conditions.
We spoke to some individuals in office support jobs and temporary jobs in London about their experiences, and how they’re minimising work-related stress at the current time.
Andy – The isolation of homeworking
“I live alone and work has always been a very sociable experience for me. In lockdown, I’m not seeing anyone face to face and I moved to working from home. Very quickly, I felt isolated and alone. I’ve experienced depression in the past so noticed how I was feeling.
I confided to my team. I discovered others felt the same. We’ve now set up daily Zoom team check-ins. We also do a weekly quiz and a ‘pub night’. It may not be the same as going out, but it’s been really helpful and I feel much better.”
Carla – The increased workload
“Due to tech issues and some of my colleagues being furloughed, I’ve now got more work on my plate. It’s been immensely stressful because I’ve felt like I couldn’t complain because, unlike others, I at least have a job.
I’ve taken control by introducing some greater structure to my day, and I’m using a time management app so that I can really see what’s going on. I was able to use this information to go to my boss and explain that some deadlines were unrealistic. Seeing it in a concrete way means that she’s adjusted her expectations and I now feel less stressed.”
Laura – The working mum
“I can’t begin to tell you how stressful it is trying to work from home and appear professional when you have primary aged children who are home from school! I’ve felt like I’m failing everyone and I don’t get a minute to myself.
I quickly realised that juggling things in this way wasn’t going to be sustainable. I spoke to my manager who has been really supportive. I’ve reduced my hours slightly, but also now just have two core hours a day where I am definitely available. During this time, the kids get plugged into their electronics! Then I make up my hours in the evening when they’ve gone to bed. It’s still quite intense, but it is better than it was.”
Alistair – The difficult colleague
“I was already experiencing work-related stress before this due to a particularly difficult colleague. He’s very aggressive but also very underhanded and I’ve found that really stressful. I’ve been dreading going into work. Since working from home, he’s been manipulating situations involving the rest of the team.
I felt I couldn’t handle this coming into my home life and felt so low that I approached my GP. She suggested I talk to my manager before being signed off. So I bit the bullet and did that. I wish I had done it sooner. My manager has been so supportive and I now don’t have any contact with the difficult colleague and no need to be signed off. I feel better about work than I have done in years.”
It’s new ground for everyone
The situation for us all is new and potentially anxiety-inducing. However, work-related problems can make things worse. You’re not alone. The NHS offers advice on how to manage stress at the moment. Also, try to be honest with your employer. Everyone is adjusting and they can’t help if they don’t know.
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