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The big fears of 2023 | The stress of returning to face-to-face



From an economic point of view, the sky of 2023 is filled with dark clouds. But after the rain comes the good weather, the saying goes, and the team of Business Press tried to look beyond those clouds to find the clearings. Today: back to work face-to-face.


After having tasted teleworking, then hybrid mode, many employees fear that their employer will increase the number of mandatory days in the office. With inflation reducing the purchasing power of Quebecers, the addition of one or two days of expenses for transportation, meals and coffee worries some workers. How will the family react if we are forced to remove Netflix and Friday night pizza to compensate for these travel expenses? Not to mention the stress of road traffic, the anguish of detours caused by the repair of the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel, metro breakdowns and buses that do not respect the established schedules. The dread of seeing the fateful email from human resources announcing a new office presence policy keeps the most anxious people awake.

The positive angle

The positive sides of a physical presence in the workplace are numerous, assures Emilie Pelletier, human resources specialist for the firm HRM Groupe.

“The simple fact of being able to raise your head to ask a question to a colleague, to stop for five minutes next to the coffee machine to get someone else’s perspective on a file, she lists , these are relational aspects that we have lost with telework. »

In-person brainstorming is also more enjoyable and increases participants’ quality of attention. All colleagues can see the reaction of others to each other’s ideas. We don’t just capture the emotions of up to six faces that appear on the computer screen. We see all the body language of all the participants who, subject to everyone’s gaze, generally keep a little embarrassment from texting during the meeting.

One of the crucial psychological needs to be motivated at work according to the SDT, the theory of self-determination, is that of belonging, explains professor at ESG UQAM Jacques Forest in his latest book, Unleash motivation.

Being part of a group, feeling warm bonds with those around us, feeling loved, caring about others, this quality of human relationships is presented in various studies as the predictor of happiness, he writes. “Helping each other to meet deadlines, being able to pour out a more difficult interaction and sincerely ask yourself ‘how are you?’ book.

However, building relationships with colleagues, customers and suppliers is easier in person, as is onboarding new employees. Knowledge transfer happens more naturally and quickly face-to-face.

There is the whole organizational culture, this corporate energy, the employee experience, the employer brand that is not easy to bring to life from a distance. If our feeling of affiliation with the company is solid, we will get through the crises. Those who arrived virtual do not have the same level of affiliation and may feel more apart.

Emilie Pelletier, human resources specialist for the firm HRM Groupe

Little touches like the box of donuts that arrives on Friday morning create a social moment in the team, she says, a moment of exchange, where we get to know each other beyond professional life.

The risks of falling into depression and isolation decrease when you feel that you have the support of your colleagues, the boss and the organization. In general, it is easier to pick up distress signals in person.

Emilie Pelletier also observes that disciplinary files are better managed in person. “The manager needs the non-verbal to catch up on the ball, to question the employee more, to ensure that it is the right message that he is transmitting. »

And it goes both ways, she recalls. Reporting a problem to your manager is more easily done in person.

The metro is broken? Take the opportunity to walk to the next station in the company of a friendly colleague. At the same time, you will have done your daily physical activity. The option of walking is impossible? Take advantage of the wait to advance your book, browse social networks or hear from a loved one.

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