Millions of people have been working from their homes due to the imposed lockdown and experts say nothing is going to remain the same, at least for those who don't need to be physically present at a certain place to perform work.
Long Term Effects of Pandemic on Work Culture
People have been debating about the implications of technology on work. Human interaction was supposed to be less important in the distant future, but for some, the future arrived earlier than expected. Remote virtual meetings are taking place and economic activities have increased in digital space by a large margin. Once the restrictions are lifted, the question is, will this be the new Business as usual. Many large corporations have already declared that employees need not commute again.
Is It Good For Us?
The situation may cheer up the environmentalists, given low air pollution. The idea of 'An Office' has certainly changed. The ILO estimated that 27% of workers in high-income countries, could work from home easily. The requirement is to reap the benefits of this experience while protecting social and economic values. Another concern is the fact that many have even lost jobs due to the pandemic and some industries are shut.
The Next Move
Employers now must give importance to the employee's trust and make the workplace safer. Everything from social distancing to continuous testing, to the availability of PPE (personal protective equipment), must be necessary for the workplace.
For short-term labourers, like construction workers, delivery workers, the impact has been higher than those of other sectors. These workers have no access to health insurance and unemployment insurance. Decisions have to be made to make sure their lives are safe and sound.
Developing Countries and Pandemic
ILO estimated a 60% decline in the earnings of almost 1.6 billion people in the informal economy. It is affecting the workers who can not work remotely and are risking life and livelihoods. As companies begin accessing the effectiveness of remote working and tackling security concerns, new opportunities may arise for the development of necessary infrastructure.
Work From Home, Boon, or Bane?
The shift to remote working has enabled a lot of companies to continue their operations and helping people stay employed during such time. Those who are able to make use of this opportunity are able to enjoy quality time with their families, which otherwise seems a little tough. The situation is also best for homeschooling and taking care of elders.
But, the thin line between work time and private time has become blurred, and this is causing an increase in the level of stress and exposing more people to mental health risks.
These are also great opportunities for companies to make some changes in their work culture, like flexible hours, shorter workweeks, work sharing, work-life balance, etc.
The opportunity can also be used for older employees to continue their work lives.
However, many others have been victims of self-isolation and loss of identity and purpose. The social and moral value of working together in each other's vicinity and the sense of belongingness can not be provided by virtual meetings.
Pandemic and Inequality
The lockdown is helping reach the digital transformation of new heights, but it is exposing the faults in our systems.
Those in the upper-income brackets are the most likely to make the most advantage of the work from home culture, whereas those earning the lowest suffered. The later will remain jobless or poor for quite some time.
In the future, if digital work becomes more and more popular, the demand for skilled workers will also rise along with their wages. The contribution of care-workers and other workers, such as teachers, grocery stores, etc will be highly valued than before. Still, the low-wage works are expected to remain stagnant.
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