Returning to the office may see a rise in family separation anxiety

officeResearch from Love Energy Savings claims that nearly half of parents (46 percent) are concerned about missing key moments in their child’s development when they return to working in the office.

School and office closures have seen many parents balancing work commitments and childcare during the pandemic. Although maintaining a work-life balance has proved a challenge for most parents, working from home has provided a rare opportunity for many to spend more time at home with loved ones.

A new study from Love Energy Savings of over 1,000 UK employees highlights concerns held by parents ahead of a full return to the office.


Key findings

Alongside concerns over missing their child’s development, some parents are worried that their relationship with their children may change post-pandemic.

One-third of parents (30 percent) said they are worried they will lose a degree of closeness with their child over the next year once they return to a normal routine. 61 percent of parents also state they will miss seeing their child as often post-lockdown.

It seems many fear returning to pre-COVID levels of intimacy where parents spent fewer than 30 minutes of quality time with their children every day.

The prospect of returning to the office and not spending every day with their children is proving overwhelming for some parents and could have a real impact on mental health, causing anxiety and depression.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”It is important that senior leaders let working parents know that they understand the challenges they are facing”[/perfectpullquote]

Love Energy Savings research claims that 1 in 8 parents have admitted to worrying about their mental health being affected when their child returns to their post-lockdown routine. This anxiety is being more strongly felt by fathers, with 1 in 7 men expressing concerns compared to 1 in 10 women. With children now back at school many parents could be suffering in silence.

After a year of living increased involvement, it isn’t just their own mental health parents are worried about; 1 in 6 parents have also admitted that they are worried about their child’s mental health suffering over the next year as they return to a normal post-lockdown routine.

However, emotions felt by parents are not one-dimensional, and it’s no surprise that many parents are looking forward to the freedom provided post-lockdown for both themselves and their children. 57 percent of parents expressed the need for space from their children having worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many also believe a return to some normality will have a positive impact on children with 96 percent of parents saying it will be good for their children to interact with a wider pool of people once again.


The transition back to the office

As staff begin to return to the office, employers must take steps to ease any concerns raised by their employees. Prior research has suggested that companies have not been sensitive to the challenges faced by working parents.

A study conducted by Working Families in October 2020, claims that 1 in 5 UK working parents felt they had been treated less fairly at work due to their childcare responsibilities since the onset of the pandemic. That figure equates to around 2.6 million working parents who feel they have been treated less fairly at work.

To successfully manage the return to the office and maintain an effective workforce, employers must become family friendly. HR professionals CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development) suggest employers must acknowledge pressures felt by parents in order to do this.

CIPD said, “It is important that senior leaders let working parents know that they understand the challenges they are facing and are empathetic and supportive. This will help to make working parents feel valued and will also give line managers greater confidence in supporting their individual team members.”

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