COVID-19 has affected everyone in the world to varying degrees. Lockdowns and quarantines, in particular, will have long-standing effects on employees and the workplace in general. The impact of COVID-19 on employees has taken several forms, including increased dependency on remote work, travel restrictions, and layoffs.
While it seems this crisis is coming to an end, and businesses are starting to reopen, there is no doubt the coronavirus has affected employees and altered the workforce permanently. Check out some of the most critical effects COVID-19 will have on employees in the coming years.
5 Biggest Impacts of Covid-19 on Employees
Increased Strain on Mental Health
Among all of the consequences of COVID on employees, one that business owners and managers often overlook is that of mental health. So, what are the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on employees’ behaviour?
68% of young people said their mental health worsened during the lockdown, and those with pre-existing mental health issues experienced it the worst. This number is a little lower for adults at 60%, but it shows that Covid-19 could affect their work-life balance.
Many conditions may affect an employee’s behaviour at work and negatively impact their productivity. They include the fear of contracting the virus upon returning to the workplace and the use of public transport. The pandemic could also impact workers in many other ways, such as fatigue, reduced exercise, alcohol consumption, or even musculoskeletal problems depending on the individual.
Regularisation of Remote Work
This fact is perhaps the most significant effect of covid-19 on employees as there has been a drastic increase in employees working from home since the pandemic began. This compromise will not change anytime soon, even after the pandemic subsides. Already, 57% of workers want to increase their remote work in the future, and the interest will guide their decisions on the roles they accept. In time, this viral desire will force companies that were not big on having a virtual workforce to become more flexible and encourage remote work.
Since many businesses will adapt to the remote work system, corporate offices will also adapt to this change. As more people work remotely, offices will become collaboration centres where employees gather for meetings and brainstorming sessions. Employers and managers will become increasingly focused on managing remote teams and using tools to make this far more accessible.
Work-From-Home Ready Offices Will Be a Norm
Working from home the new “normal”
One of the biggest challenges with adapting to remote work is the lack of space or infrastructure for home offices. These facilities often include desks and tables, Zoom setups, ergonomic cushions, and fast internet services. In the coming years, they will be abundant as companies are already making such facilities a priority for their employees to be productive. A real-life example is the story of how Twitter gave their workers reimbursements for all the home office equipment they acquired.
Home office stipends will become a norm and a factor that both employers and employees consider in the workplace. Although this is a direct impact of COVID-19 on employees, it will benefit both sides of the table because employers don’t have to worry about commuting costs or high-maintenance fees. In the long run, the company saves costs by running its facilities remotely. According to research, employers could stand to save $11,000 on each employee working from home yearly.
Email and Video Meetings will Become Common.
Since people could not meet physically to collaborate, another effect of coronavirus on workers was the increased need to use non-traditional means to meet. Also, meetings reduced drastically as companies only organised them when necessary. Businesses that were not accustomed to these technologies have started adapting to the times. Already, 86% of companies administer their employee interviews over video calls, and this trend is not slowing down anytime soon.
With more video meetings comes a reduction in business travel as companies move forward to balance budgets and cut costs, especially in a period of recovery from pandemic losses. The pandemic has made them realise that they can do without a lot of business travel, thanks to HD video conferencing. Because of some video conferencing platforms’ unavailability in some parts of the world, 62% of companies use at least three video calling platforms.
More Jobs Losses
Even though there were pre-existing fears of robots stealing jobs from humans, the pandemic has increased these fears as many organisations are finding ways to replace employees. The BBC projected that 2.2 million people would be out of their jobs by the end of 2020 due to the lockdown protocols. The demographic most-impacted by this are those under 25 years and those in the retail, entertainment, and hospitality sector.
Another impact of coronavirus on employees concerning lost jobs is that those who were unemployed due to the pandemic may not recover their jobs in its aftermath. Companies in manufacturing, delivery, and other repetitive jobs have developed new algorithms and automation solutions to perform these tasks.
Outlook and Possible Solutions
There are ways to manage and prepare for every long-lasting impact of covid-19 on workers so it does not adversely affect individuals and workplace productivity. The following solutions can help soften the negative impacts:
Effective Communication: Keeping everyone in the business on the same page about resuming or closing can help employees feel more relaxed. 62% of individuals that employers didn’t consult were anxious about resuming work, and only 42% of those appropriately consulted felt the same way.
Developing New Skills: Although presently, it is not crystal clear how COVID-19 will affect the staffing scenario of an organisation, new skills will always be an advantage. A surge in companies using technologies to replace the human workforce will also call for new skills in developing those technologies.
Review Policies: Employers and managers should review their policies affecting paid time off and sick leave. Updated policies should put the employees’ interests first regarding COVID-19 by implementing measures to reduce the risk of infection in and outside the workplace. Federal and state laws are dynamic, so policies should get reviewed as often as these laws change.
The effects of COVID-19 on employees and the workplace are constantly evolving elements with new changes every day. We can neither predict nor see every one of its effects as such a massive pandemic is still new territory for our generation. As long as companies implement the measures suggested above and employees keep up with new trends, we remain optimistic about the future of the global labour force.