Employees Returning to the Office After Pandemic See a Rise in Social Anxiety.

By Doug Staneart of Fearless Presentations ®

Social anxiety is on the rise as employees return to the office after years of remote work, according to recent reports. Fearless Presentation®, a renowned public speaking training organization, has witnessed a significant surge in requests for their services as in-person meetings become more prevalent once again. The staggering increase in various forms of social anxiety is attributed to the prolonged period of limited face-to-face interaction during the pandemic.

Small businesses across the country returned to work a couple of years ago. But many of the biggest employers were slower to require their employees to come into the office. Some still have a hybrid schedule with a few days in the office and the rest are work-from-home days.

After a few years, productivity is down, and the remote working experiment is beginning to have new challenges.

Companies Who Delayed Returning to Work Are Experiencing Huge Unintended Consequences.

According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, it takes about two months to create a habit. The brain forms neural pathways that become familiar over time. So for over two years, employees have become familiar with… wake up at ten minute until 8:00 AM for an 8:00 AM start. Get an Uber Eats at Noon. Then, start wrapping things up around 3:00 PM to make it to the gym.

This habit has been engrained for years. Now, employers are asking these same employees to replace the habit with the following. Wake up at 6:30 AM. Shower and get dressed. Grab a quick coffee and rush out the door. Get stuck in traffic for almost an hour. (Since you’ve been working from home, you got a new apartment 35 miles away that has a community room for Zoom calls and an open bar on the weekends.) Then, fight traffic for another hour to get home.

So, the old habit is being replaced by a new habit that is way less convenient for the employee. The big problem, though, is that the old habit is now ingrained. The employee can replace the habit with the new habit over time, but the old habit is still there. The neural pathways are still firing away.

Companies who returned to work sooner had resistance. But the resistance the big companies are experiencing now is huge.

Social Anxiety Is Also on the Rise as Employees Return to Work.

These returning employees have another big challenge as well. Everyone has been communicating via chat and Zoom calls with their cameras off for a couple of years. So, they’re out of practice in their communication habits as well.

Doug Staneart, the author of Fearless Presentations® public speaking class, emphasizes the challenges faced by individuals readjusting to office dynamics. “Many team members are struggling to acclimate after spending over two years without in-person interactions,” says Staneart. Notably, the number of requests for public speaking training has seen a nearly 1000% surge in the past year alone, indicating the pressing need for individuals to regain confidence in face-to-face communication.

Speaking coach Kelsey Greenwood, teaches presentation training in Atlanta, GA. She echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the importance of practice to establish comfort in public speaking. Many individuals, including experienced speakers, find themselves out of practice due to the prolonged hiatus caused by the pandemic. However, with consistent practice, confidence can be swiftly regained.

A Communication Skills and Presentation Skills Workshop May Be an Easy Fix.

Fearless Presentation® has responded to the growing demand by offering public speaking classes in all 30 cities they previously operated in before the Covid shutdown. This includes cities such as Chicago, New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco, which experienced a slower return to normalcy. Greenwood highlights that participating in a presentation class is an effective way to reduce public speaking fear, providing participants with valuable practice opportunities and expert coaching in a controlled environment.

However, many of the participants who are experiencing this fear or nervousness don’t want their bosses to know that they are having trouble. They want to keep their fear a secret and try to deal with it personally. Unfortunately, when they do this, they will begin to believe that they are the only ones experiencing this anxiety. That makes the problem harder to solve.

So, a lot of these big companies have decided to hire companies like Fearless Presentations ® to deliver on-site custom classes for their teams. As teams of employees go through the classes together, it solves both of the problems discussed earlier. They feel more at home when in the office because they have developed more rapport with their coworkers. And the anxiety goes down dramatically as well.

They begin to replace the old habits with more positive new habits.

About Fearless Presentations ®

Fearless Presentations ® is one of the largest and most influential Presentation Skills companies in the world. We work with over 400 of The Fortune 500 companies and have delivered over 10,000 public speaking classes to hundreds of thousands of, now, fearless presenters. These classes are offered in over 30 major cities around the world.