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Return to Work – the pros and cons…and the importance of mental health

Return to Work – the pros and cons…and the importance of mental health

Return to Work – the pros and cons…and the importance of mental health

The best coffee break in lockdown! This is how one of the attendees described our new format bringing together people in the Channel in what we call “The Social CONTEXT”. It is so good to engage with different people even if we can’t do so physically, and no doubt, good for our mental health.

Our theme was “What are we doing about the Return to Work?” and the discussion was led by David Watts, Managing Director of Tech Data UK & Ireland.

It was a fascinating discussion done under Chatham House rules and encouraging people to meet and network with each other. We had people from France, UK, Turkey, Italy, Lithuania, Germany, and the USA.

Here are some thoughts about the positive benefits of the return to work

  • The work community plays a core role in wellbeing – physical interaction matters
  • Going to work takes us out of our comfort zone – for many this is important for long-term health and stability
  • Teamwork benefits from being in the office, and very often through incidental unplanned discussions – there are no corridors on Zoom! 
  • We are, simply put, said one participant, more effective when we are in the office
  • It shows solidarity with the warehouse staff who have had to continue coming to work

In addition, there is an element of pragmatism which come into play: 

  • We have to find the right balance between what employees want and what companies need in order to be effective
  • Different countries are going at different speeds, as can be seen in the % returning to work and as evidenced in the CONTEXT Toner index – France is leading of the five big European countries with some companies giving very clear directions for people to return to work, whereas the UK is lagging the most

Big concerns exist, the most important one flagged up by many participants, is the long-term mental health of employees. Timing is good for this as 10th October is World Mental Health Day

  • We will devote a future meeting of the Social CONTEXT to this vital topic by inviting an expert on mental health to give us advice and input
  • One of the participants from a large multi-national stressed that they had kept close to their employees through regular surveying and communications “all the time”

Lastly, there were some people who argued strongly for the benefits of homeworking

  • No commuting and no problems with car parking spaces
  • Time and cost saving
  • “Slack is our Zoom corridor”!

The next meeting of The Social CONTEXT will take place on Friday 16th October at 11am or 4pm. The speaker, to be confirmed, will address practical issues related to Mental Health and Homeworking.

11 AM -

4 PM -


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