returning to work

As months of working virtually are grinding to a halt, researchers are discovering a new trend. Workers who are returning to brick-and-mortar offices are reporting being depressed. In fact, 33% of workers returning to pre-COVID work routines say they are depressed. Workers give various reasons for feeling depressed, but three reasons rise to the top.

Work-Life Balance

While many workers struggled when businesses required them to work from home where spouses, children and other distractions surrounded them, they figured out a way to make it work for them. Now as these employees return to the workplace, they have discovered that they miss those things. In particular, they miss having time to do what they enjoy because they are stuck in traffic during commute times.

Feeling Underappreciated

While many older workers say they are considering retiring now that they have experienced a more balanced work/life balance, younger employees report feeling depressed because they feel underappreciated. Companies used to lure great employees to their organizations with fun benefits. Now, younger employees are saying that they would prefer that their boss treat them with kindness and pay for those perks.

In particular, these millennial employees say they feel anxious, depressed, and unappreciated because of psychologically unhealthy management practices that were easy to ignore when they did not have to see their boss regularly. A study conducted by Michigan State University in the United States and China found that bosses who belittle and ridicule workers harm workers’ attitudes and inspire hostility between workers. They found that these workers were less team players and contributed less to workplace productivity. These managers often feel insecure, so they are not willing to listen to ideas coming from those they are supervising.

Giving Up the Dream

As workers learned to live with less as shortages hit many industries during the pandemic, many workers discovered that they enjoyed a minimalistic lifestyle. This has caused many who are returning to the office to question what was important in their life. Many workers are finding out that always chasing the dream of having more is not for them. Instead, they realize that the most important things cannot be purchased. Many of these workers have lost a younger person to COVID and understand that tomorrow is never promised and are rethinking what they want to do with the time that they are given.


The workplace of tomorrow may look very different than the pre-COVID one. Companies may discover that they need to get rid of managers who will not build healthy workplaces. Other companies may realize that they need to give workers more flexibility in working from home, at least part-time. Workers employed by these companies are likely to have much better mental health.