DETROIT – Many people have been working from home for over a year but as COVID restrictions are lifted, many Michigan residents are returning to work.
For some workers this shift back to the office is causing a lot of anxiety. Irma Guzman works full time as a senior college admissions counselor. She has a toddler at home and another baby on the way.
“I’m not going to be vaccinated,” Guzman said. “I’m being transparent in the fact that I’m not being vaccinated because I want you to be safe when you’re in my area -- especially just with complications. It’s something that I significantly worry about.”
Guzman’s second child is due in August. She’s still trying to figure out what to do about heading back to her office.
Guzman is so worried that she’s starting to weigh her options. She said she is starting to ask herself if she should return to work or if there are other spaces where she could work in a virtual setting. She’s not alone.
Theresa Cry shares an office with Guzman and shares some of the same concerns. Cry said she is feeling anxiety and nervousness about going back to the office.
“Now you want us to just jump out of it and go be normal. What is normal? I don’t know what a new normal looks like yet. And so how do I even navigate what the new normal is? I don’t know what that is. I know it’s scary to think that we’re all just gonna walk around. I’m keeping my mask on even though people will not have their masks on. I am keeping my mask on for awhile because I’m not comfortable,” Cry said.
Like many other families with working parents reopening office buildings also raises questions about child care. Guzman wonders how it will affect her daughter.
“It would be a drastic shift for her schedule,” Guzman said. I would have to get up by 5:56 in the morning, take her, drop her off, be gone all day and then come home and pick her up from five or six. So, it will significantly limit my time with her. And I think because I’ve been home I’m not sure how well she would have to adjust right away.”
Both women feel employers should consider reopening on a case-by-case basis and take families personal needs into account.
A study out of China that was published in May found that nearly 11% of workers who already went back to their offices actually met the criteria for PTSD.
That same study found employers who listened to their employees concerns and increased cleanliness in their office buildings helped alleviate some of that stress.