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The emotional impact of Omicron on project professionals

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The majority of project professionals have experienced stress or anxiety due to uncertainty caused by the Omicron coronavirus variant, Association for Project Management (APM) has found.

While the physical impacts of coronavirus are still being felt by thousands around the world, the virus and its variants are also having a significant emotional impact for many. Project professionals say the uncertainty caused by Omicron variant is affecting their mental wellbeing as well as their ability to work.

A survey of over 1,000 project practitioners commissioned by APM and carried out by research company Censuswide , found that 56 per cent reported experiencing anxiety because of uncertainty around Omicron. In addition, 55 per cent said they had experienced stress. Altogether, nearly one-in-five (19 per cent) said they felt anxiety and stress.

Furthermore, 88 per cent of survey respondents say recent uncertainty around the Omicron variant has impacted their work. The most common impacts are:

  • Omicron causing difficulties among suppliers/external stakeholders that has impacted project work (encountered by 29 per cent of survey respondents)
  • Having to cancel or postpone essential work-related travel (28 per cent)
  • Omicron forcing changes to the timeline of a main project (27 per cent)

There is also evidence that employers may need to step up their efforts to help their project teams. When asked if they felt their workplace was doing enough to support the mental health and wellbeing of its project professionals, nearly a third (29 per cent) said no. When asked the same question in a previous survey in the autumn of 2021 – before the first reported case of Omicron – only 15 per cent said no.

Caspar Bartington, head of volunteer and education engagement at APM, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges and unimaginable heartbreak for countless people. As new variants emerge, causing further disruption and uncertainty on a global scale, it’s entirely understandable that this would take an emotional toll. It is vital that people seek help when they feel they need it.

“APM provides a wide range of resources, including our mental health toolkit that has been developed in conjunction with Mind. As the stigma surrounding talking about mental wellbeing is disappearing, we hope affected project, programme and portfolio managers will feel more confident and wiling to have open conversations about this important issue.”

APM’s mental health toolkit and other resources can be accessed here.


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