Summary of Preparing for Re-Entry into the Physical Workspace

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Does the thought of spending your workday among other people again make you anxious? Abrupt changes from one environment to another can shock your system. Nobody understands this better than the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which has decades of experience supporting astronauts as they re-enter society after a space expedition. NASA consultant Michael Stallard explains how its best practices can help companies ease employee transitions back to the office after COVID-19. His article offers practical advice for leaders and anybody wary about post-pandemic socializing.

About the Author

Michael Lee Stallard founded and leads the Connection Culture Group, and is the author of Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy, and Understanding at Work.

 

Summary

Living in isolation through the pandemic has some parallels with astronauts’ isolation during extended periods in space.

People’s experience of living through the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic has similarities to the circumstances astronauts go through when they spend time in space. These include physical isolation from family and friends, limited face-to-face interactions, no separation between home and workplace, and the need to shield themselves from a dangerous outside environment.

NASA has long been aware of the negative consequences of living in isolation from the outside world. It understands the toll being socially disconnected takes on a person’s physical health, mental well-being and performance. Following the opening of the International Space Station, where astronauts may be assigned for many months, NASA became increasingly proactive in fostering social connections among its team members to stave...


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