Now that COVID-19 numbers continue to drop and vaccinations are up, many companies are asking employees to return to the workplace. And if you're working from home and feeling some anxiety about that, you're not alone.
A local health industry expert has some advice for both the employee and employer to help ease the transition and make sure everyone's mental health is being considered.
"This is tough stuff. There's not a person in the world right now, not just here in Tampa Bay, but in the world right now, that hasn't gone through something very traumatic through this pandemic," explained Sharon Fekete.
Fekete is a recovering addict, health industry expert and founder of "The Doctor Whisperer," which helps run medical practices from New York to Florida.
She recommends that as employees return to the workplace even part-time, managers need to pay attention, especially if any staff members are acting differently.
"If they're a little more sluggish or maybe they're not socializing or maybe they're not putting the camera on. Somebody has to be bold enough to ask the question, 'Are you okay? What's going on?'" she said.
Fekete says those same leaders need to be more sensitive and open-minded by asking employees how they want to move forward.
"The employees are really counting on the employers to guide them through this. So getting that feedback from your staff is crucial. Don't just assume everybody's going to be super hyped up to be working from home," she said.
And for the strong leaders out there, she says self-care is a must. So make sure you practice what you preach.
"If you are not taking care of yourself, you absolutely cannot take care of anybody else. If you are telling everybody that they need to go and get some therapy, well, that's great. Are you practicing that yourself? People really need to take those breaks," Fekete explained.
She also recommends that everyone should check on their friends, especially those you think have it all together.
"Check on your strong friends. Check on your friends that are funny. Check on your friends that always look like they're doing great. Those are the ones that could probably use your help. The ones that are always providing a solution are the ones that need the most help," she said.
Fekete says most companies have an Employee Assistance Program that offers free mental health help and it's usually available for the entire family.
Fekete has her own podcast called "The Doctor Whisperer" and she's written a book "The Broken Road to Mental Health: In Life and in Business."