New York, NY – It’s been more than two years since Covid hit the scene. So, where are we now? Many restrictions have been dropped and people are no longer afraid to go outdoors. Social gatherings and sporting events are returning. Mask requirements have largely been relaxed and proof of vaccination is no longer required in many cases. Many office workers, however, have still not returned to their desks.

Ben Kimmel.


Occupancy rates in NewYork City office buildings remain low. And while some companies are urging their workers to return, others are allowing for a more hybrid experience. Still other companies have yet to return at all. Why are people comfortable going outside and socializing, but uncomfortable about returning to the office?

Covid’s threat may no longer be what it once was — nevertheless, the pandemic has left loads of uncertainty and fear in its wake. Tensions are still high. Many are concerned about an increase in crime. This may be the reason why so many continue to work remotely. But again, why do some people appear comfortable going to social events, but not to the office?

Could it be that workers have a lot more to worry about now than catching Covid? Consumer costs are skyrocketing, gas prices are soaring and the stock market is jittery. All the while geopolitical tensions are running hot abroad, and communities remain divided at home.

Is it any wonder cases of PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — are also on the rise? Essential workers never had the luxury of working remotely. More than a million Americans have died during the pandemic. Workers everywhere have suffered terrible losses. If and when workers return to the office, some will find empty desks because their colleagues fell victim to the virus. For all of these workers, there simply will never be a “return to normal.” Our entire definition of “normal” is no longer what it used to be.

That’s why those hoping to return to the office, but still feeling uncompfortable about it, could benefit greatly from trauma-informed care. Mental health and trauma-informed support are great ways to help many workers navigate these dark days.

Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Wellbeing and DEI Content Provider, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate.  Ben can be reached at


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