The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every aspect of our life especially our economy. Find out how our workforce is coping with the ongoing health crisis.
The coronavirus pandemic is the worst crisis humanity has faced since World War II. Its effects are far more devastating and globally imposing than the Great Recession of 2008. We’ve always been subjected to gradual changes and to situations that were at least predicted by a scientist or economist somewhere in the world. But the ongoing health crisis has caught even the superpowers of the world off guard with no pre-planned action to deflect the losses and salvage their dwindling finances.
The pandemic has burdened people not only physically and mentally but financially as well. Our economy has taken the greatest hit during these challenging times. The initial wave of the crisis forced people to go into immediate lockdown which meant the indefinite shutdown of all businesses and organizations. Only people who were working on the frontlines could continue with their jobs despite the growing risks.
Companies had to rely on their HR departments then more than ever to think of ways to minimize their losses by making sure workers are doing what they are paid to do. Shifting from traditional work style to remote working was the only viable option on the table since workers were unable to get out of their houses without risking their wellbeing. Only companies that exhibited agility were able to tackle this unforeseen health crisis successfully.
Adapting to working remotely
Organizations had to switch to remote working immediately after the lockdown was in effect to make sure workers don’t miss a day at work. It may sound like an easy transition, but most employees were not ready for the change. They were not trained to do their work from home without a manager hovering them or to balance their work and family without a definite divide between the two.
Organizations that were already partially remote had it easy since their workforce was familiar with the concept of working from home. They were compatible with the tools necessary to connect and communicate with their colleagues without being present in the same room as them. Consequently, they showed more affinity towards reformed working conditions than those who were thrust into the world of remote working without prior notice.
Weak Wi-Fi connection made it difficult for most employees to connect with their manager and colleagues efficiently without any interruption in the process. Before the pandemic, some employees never even thought of dedicating a place in their house for work which meant that they had to make do with their noisy environment after forced to go remote.
Struggling with Technology
The concept of remote working would have remained a fantasy if we didn’t have the necessary technology to make it a reality. Admittedly, millennials in the developed countries were more affable with technology than millennials in the developing countries. In summary, the workforce that wasn’t trained to be agile struggled to adapt to the new norms of the working environment.
Designing new working policies
Reforming work policies to fit the new working narrative was inevitable in these dire times. People working in the HR knew that telecommunicating was here to stay and is likely to continue even after the pandemic is over. They had too many variables to factor in the new work policies and the workforce was restless.
The fact that employment challenges grew insistently even after the pandemic came down from its hike was concerning for many. Figuring out how to incorporate guidelines and rules for remote working was difficult but not more than taking care of expiring health policies.
Employment protection for self-isolated employees, paid sick leave for those in self-isolation, free health care provisions, and several other reforms were paid dust in the majority of the countries worldwide. Only selective businesses decided to work with their employees to fight a global crisis while others took it as an opportunity to layoff their workers to cut back on their losses.
As mentioned earlier, the employed workforce is struggling to stay afloat because of the fear of losing their jobs and catching the deadly virus. Those who have lost their jobs already are finding it difficult to find new opportunities. Economists predict if governments failed to contain the chaos in the initial stage via pandemic unemployment assistance and other means then we’ll be dealing with an economic dilemma far worst than the world has ever witnessed before!
Going back to work
Adapting to a new work style was not a small feat but now the workforce has to go back to the traditional work environment. A study by IBM revealed that around 54% of the adults want to work remotely after the pandemic. This means that employees are not as eager to go back to work in an office setting as they were once before the pandemic.
Not all employees have the privilege to work for an employer that cares about their wellbeing meaning people are risking their lives to go to work because the economy cannot handle any more setbacks and delays in the working frequency. U.S.A, India, and few other South Asian countries are among the few that have decided to lift lockdown despite knowing that the working environment in their country is not as per the recommended safety guidelines.
Social distancing is the key precaution that all organizations had to implement if they wanted to revert to their conventional working style. Arranging working desks in a way that maximizes the distance among workers, making it mandatory to use a face mask in the office space at all times, and frequent sanitization and cleaning of the offices are the few SOPs that companies had to adhere to ensure a safe work environment for their employees.
An increase in the unemployment rate, sudden layoffs, adapting to a new working environment, inefficient work policies, and the not so safe conditions of a traditional working environment are a few challenges that employees are facing during the pandemic. Organizations and businesses must reform their practices to accommodate their workforce . Agile individuals who are ready to better themselves can survive in these tough times.