COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on people’s daily activities. From shopping and exercising to commuting and socializing, it has impacted virtually every aspect of our day-to-day lives. Nowhere has the virus had a greater impact than on the workplace. In this article, we look at the short- and long-term implications on companies and how the pandemic could have a permanent impact on workplace practices all over the world.
Employers have mobilized to adapt worksites and practices
All employers owe a duty of care to their employees to keep them safe in the course of their work. Depending on the nature of the business, its location, and relevant federal and local laws and guidance, employers may implement one or all of the following steps to protect their employees:
- Deep cleaning common and high-traffic areas
- Installing Perspex barriers between work stations, staff, and customers
- Rearranging work stations to support social distancing
- Limiting the number of people permitted to enter enclosed areas
- Adapting work schedules and staggering shifts to reduce the number of people in the workplace at any one time
- Modifying visitor policies and encouraging digital communication whenever possible
- Providing personal protective equipment such as gloves and face coverings
- Requiring employees to minimize outside exposure
- Conducting temperature checks and COVID-19 testing
- Increasing remote work opportunities
As of April 10, approximately 25% of the world’s population was in lockdown
Governments all over the world have encouraged their citizens to socially distance and self-isolate in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Some countries imposed severe sanctions for those caught breaking curfews during the lockdown.
Many organizations have had to adapt their practices considerably to support social distancing and to slow the spread of the disease.
Social distancing has triggered an unparalleled increase in the implementation of digital communications, particularly video conferencing. Platforms such as Microsoft Teams have witnessed a significant increase in new sign-ups. This has led to an acceleration in the launch of new updates, such as the implementation of AI to filter out background noise. Many organizations and individuals that previously lacked interest in virtual communications have been converted, championing workplace collaboration technologies.
Many believe that we are currently witnessing a cultural shift that could have far-reaching consequences beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, creating permanent changes in the way that we work, learn, and live our lives.
Experts believe that these changes will be positive. Employees are becoming increasingly comfortable in front of the lens. Some suggest that the opportunity to obtain a glimpse into the personal lives of employers and employees is a positive thing, as it creates a more human connection.
For many employers, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call
Managers and executives are beginning to see what is really possible in terms of flexible and remote work opportunities.
Despite substantial evidence outlining the benefits of remote work, the concept has traditionally faced resistance from employers. Now that they have been forced to adapt, many are rapidly starting to appreciate the benefits of allowing employees to work from home.
Recently, many organizations outlaid significant sums to facilitate remote work, financing the purchase of laptops and online tools to keep their businesses going. With an increased investment in technology designed to facilitate remote work, yet another barrier has been removed.
No one can say for certain how long the crisis will last
Some of the world’s biggest companies have had to overhaul their workplace practices in order to protect the safety of the public and their employees. The learning curve has been steep, with entire industries scrambling to keep up with a constantly evolving situation.
The pandemic has effectively accelerated migration to online platforms, particularly in terms of learning and development, with professionals being called on to diversify the delivery of training, ranging from virtual classrooms to webcasts and content creation.
Many predict that these changes will have significant long-term potential, enabling organizations to completely overhaul their learning strategies and to implement training in a more user-friendly and effective way.
As Jared Spataro, the head of Microsoft 365, explained, the crisis is likely to mark a turning point in history in terms of how people work. He pointed out that while the pandemic has caused significant suffering around the world, perhaps the “new normal” could result in a more balanced and sustainable way of working, living, and learning for all of us.
The pandemic presents unique challenges in terms of recruitment
Censia is a talent intelligence platform that helps organizations save up to 70% on the cost of each hire. Censia’s ReadyToHire program connects companies with qualified candidates identified from its database of more than 500 professionals, creating a short list of top-tier talent in minutes.
The ReadyToHire platform provides a free, instant service that connects companies with professionals who have been displaced during the pandemic. Censia not only helps talented employees return to work, but it supports organizations and helps them to quickly fill open roles with experienced and qualified personnel.