The Extra Toll Of Returning To The Office That No One Is Talking About

Photographed by Kate Anglestein
Returning to the office doesn't just carry a financial cost. According to new research by LinkedIn, it's also giving young people anxiety about having to make the obligatory office small talk again.
In fact, 57% of young people aged between 18 and 34 said their ability to make conversation in the office has diminished because the pandemic. An even higher percentage – 84% – admitted they feel "out of practice" when it comes to office life.
Meanwhile, 63% of young people at the start of their careers said they feel they have missed out on the opportunity to develop crucial work social skills because of the pandemic. Anybody who began a new job while working from home will relate to this.
TikTok creator Luke Millington-Drake has sent up the potential awkwardness of having to make office small talk again in this hilarious video.

##ad Struggling with awkward office moments? I’ve teamed up with @linkedin to show you’re not alone! ##ad

♬ original sound - Luke Millington-Drake
"The loss of office small talk might seem insignificant at first, but in reality, it could have a detrimental impact on career development," said workplace psychologist Anjula Matanda. "Younger people in particular haven’t had the opportunity to build up small talk skills – as many of them may have started jobs in lockdown without ever having met their colleagues face to face, making it harder to connect on a more personal level."
Matanda added: "Small talk is the soft skill that could make a significant difference and lead to big things in the business environment. So, if you’re out of practice, you could be missing out on opportunities."
LinkedIn's careers expert Darain Faraz said the survey highlights the fact that "the last eighteen months have been especially tough on young professionals".
"Young workers haven’t had much face time to build up their small talk repertoire so the next few months of their career development are crucial as they make up for lost time now that offices are opening up again," Faraz added.
To that end, LinkedIn have made a number of its online courses available for free, including several that focus on soft skills such as office small talk. They're available without any charge between now and 15th October.