Over the last few months, during lockdowns, lockouts and limitations, real estate agents, like everyone else, were subjected to new conditions to which they needed to adapt – both personally and professionally.
And while the world changed rapidly around us; surveys were conducted, reports were written, and news headlines provided guidance about how to deal with the mental health implications of a global pandemic.
As restrictions have now started to ease right across the country, Australians are beginning to emerge from hibernation, pack into restaurants, turn up to open homes, and of course, head back to work.
But just like adapting to a change in the first place is not always easy, adapting to how life used to be can also cause people to feel anxious, emotional, stressed and depressed.
With Mental Health Week drawing to a close, we put the spotlight on five areas agents – as colleagues and business managers – need to consider when keeping an eye on team mates who are slowly returning to the big, wide world.
Spotlight on social anxiety
Recently, one of our colleagues went out to a fancy dinner for her anniversary with her husband.
The restaurant was adhering to social distancing rules, but as she told us later, compared to her sparsely populated home of just three people, it felt loud, packed and overwhelming.
Returning to the real world can bring with it varied feelings and volumes of social anxiety, ranging from nervousness and stress at being out and about, to real feelings of fear and terror.
Returning to a busy real estate office, being surrounded by colleagues or trying to organise droves of open home attendees can result in previously confident and capable people feeling overwhelmed.
Even worse, this feeling can sneak up and surprise, and they can very suddenly find themselves with a sense or breathlessness or terror.
As work picks back up, and more colleagues re-join the office, keep an eye out for signs of people who may feel overwhelmed or are having trouble readjusting, and offer them extra support.
Spotlight on unemployment and financial challenges
Important to remember, as your world may be returning to near-normal, Australia’s unemployment rate remains the highest is has been in recent history.
So, though your colleagues may be returning to work, they may still be experiencing great financial hardship or stress if they have been off work for a few months, or if their partner or family member remains unemployed.
While Government initiatives were designed to help Australians in financial hardship, these are now easing, and many families may be feeling the pinch.
As a good colleague, watch for signs of stress, anxiety or impatience and don’t forget to check in with your teammates.
Spotlight on strained relationships at home
Covid was a time when many of us were able to spend more time than ever with our partners and families –in some cases was great, and in other cases, resulted in fighting and relationship breakdown.
Just because Covid feels a little more over (but is still circulating in the community – don’t forget!), does not mean the after affects of restrictions are not still lingering.
Breakdowns in relationships can be devastating and can cause a person to experience a range of different ongoing emotions as they deal with the fallout, from a lack of motivation to irritation or even recklessness.
Luckily for many of us, we work in close knit offices with people who are colleagues, as well as friends. We know each other well and we know each other’s families.
For families that are struggling, offer an ear to listen and know where to refer someone for some extra help.
Spotlight on an increased desire for balance
A really prevalent challenge many people report experiencing, is simply not wanting to return to normal.
Covid introduced a lot of hardship, but there were also positives – as Australians, renowned as one of the hardest working populations in the world, we learned a little more about balance.
We learned what it was like not to have to fight peak hour traffic to get to the office. We learned what it was like to work in comfortable clothes rather than restrictive suits. We enjoyed not having to spend time doing ourselves up and fitting societal ideals of beauty.
Most importantly, many of us learned what it’s like to get more quality time with our partners and families.
And we liked it!
Having a taste of something and then having it snatched away can hurt. It can create feelings of restlessness, resentment, irritation, impatience and a desire for a different life. It can re-order priorities.
For many employers, Covid was a wake-up call. It reminded them that their teams do need that balance, and that often, having it makes them appreciate their work even more, and become more efficient and productive.
As your team returns to work, take the opportunity to talk with them about how you can help them continue to achieve some of that balance and get as much as they can from life.
Spotlight on the big catch up
While stats show property values and sales volumes didn’t change as dramatically as some predicted during Covid, many offices, both small and large, suffered. Some offices struggled to get new listings, some struggled to make ends meet and keep staff on.
For those who are fortunate to have a job and be returning to work, likely the last few months have been tough financially.
People in this position may place undue pressure on themselves to work harder than is mentally safe in order to catch up.
If you’re a manager or a business owner, take the time to sit down with each of your team in a one-on-one to check in and see how they were doing – especially if you know sales or new managements have been low for them throughout Covid.
Set realistic targets that fit the market and ensure your team is motivated, without feeling like they are facing an impossible task.
The big take home message here is that dealing with loneliness and isolation isn’t the end of dealing with the mental health effects of Covid-19.
As good colleagues and good friends, we all have a human duty to keep an eye on each other and offer support when it is needed.