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Return to Office Threats on Well-Being Series: Introduction

If you work primarily on a computer, the chances are high that you have heard the murmurs of an impending ‘return to office’. That’s right, it’s finally coming. The phrase that loomed over office workers throughout the past year is coming to surface. It may be a full return to business as usual with Monday to Friday commutes or it may be a hybrid model where workers are only expected to be in office part-time. Regardless of the cadence, it will be a significant physical and emotional shift for us all. This is why Headway has decided to develop a content series that discusses this massive adjustment to our lives and the threats it may bring to our well-being.

Our mission for this series is simple: Enable empathy for the return to office threats on well-being.

If one thing is certain in these uncertain times, it is that everyone has had to deal with working from home in their own unique way. While some thrived, others have struggled. There are external variables such as roommates, children, parents, neighbours, place of living, construction… the list goes on. All of which affect our ability to work from home and thus our receptiveness to returning to an office setting.

The phrase ‘Return to Office’ has possibility to draw up a spectrum of emotions all the way from excitement to dread. Perhaps you’ve found a flow that leaves you more fulfilled than ever before working from home and the idea of compromising this is terrifying. Alternatively, you may wake up dreading the sight of your laptop in your home and are practically banging on the door of your old office.

When we do return, things will be different. We have collectively experienced trauma through many ways, whether directly or indirectly. The world dealt with loss, physical danger, isolation, publicized racial inequality, political divides, and more. The world we live in is no longer the same so we cannot expect our offices to be either. Organizational leaders must consider this when reacclimatizing employees.

In addition, peers must be understanding to others’ situations and act responsibly so the ecosystem may thrive. It will be important to empathize with these new threats in order to properly accommodate them in a new environment and minimize the negative affects on well-being.

Through this content series we will cover a few topics relevant in the mental well-being space as we return to office. These topics are informed through research conducted by the team around the Future of Work.

  • Accelerated Socialization

  • The Great Resignation

  • Detachment from Home

  • Physical Safety

  • Perception Vulnerability

  • Responsible Interaction

In exploring these topics, we will be looking to help bring awareness to the table, illuminate as to why these situations are occurring to help give you empathy as you face it in your organization, and try to provide some tools to help you navigate this time with your employees.

So, if you are a leader of an organization looking to provide a safe return for employees or if you are an employee looking to better understand the future landscape, look out for more content coming soon. We hope you find it helpful in your journey to return to the office.

Learn more about Headway, a movement to promote and support healthy minds at work. Download Headway resources and guides to help your workplace start the conversation about mental health.

  • Business Case for Healthy Minds at Work: Hard facts that show the positive financial impact of implementing mental health programs in the workplace.

  • Resource Roadmap: Links to Canadian organizations that specialize in supporting mental health in the workplace.

  • Employer Guide: An integrated and holistic way of thinking about workplace mental wellness.

The Future of Work is part of SW&As Disruption Audit: A look at universal trends like demographics and the economy as well as industry specific trends in areas such as retail and food production. For more information, contact


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