Headline Diplomat eJournal – Issue 1, Series 2
The perilous lenses of COVID-19: The sociopolitical impact
Writes Brock Cooper, Journalist, Profitable Prose, LinkedIn
All it takes is a single breath for essential workers to be exposed to COVID-19. They are putting their lives on the line every day, but the pandemic that has rocked the world has impacted millions of employees struggling to make ends meet.
Employees from the mom and pop restaurant down the street to massive corporations are feeling the impact as COVID-19 has changed the way people work and live. People risk death for minimum wage and telecommuters hide away in their homes waiting for the pandemic to pass.
The Plight of Essential Workers
They are the gas station attendants and grocery checkers vital to maintaining normalcy for the rest of society that face some of the biggest risks. While many workers are unemployed or work from home, they do not have the luxury and want employers to maintain high standards for protection.
“Health-wise, this is important, not just for the employees but the customers,” New York City Macy’s employee Sterling Lewis told USA Today. “The virus thing — it is scary.”
Many of these essential workers receive minimum wage and face off against unruly customers who do not want to wear masks. They risk their health every day.
Unemployment Skyrockets as COVID-19 Continues to Spread
During the height of the pandemic, many businesses either closed entirely or reduced their workforce, leading to a surge in unemployment. The government tried to stem the tide with programs such as Paycheck Protection Program and stimulus checks to help people pay their bills, but many of these protections are running out as states slowly begin to open.
Schools and universities are laying off and furloughing thousands of teachers and other workers as they struggle to provide an education through distanced learning.
“Cuts to the state budget along with student refunds for certain services have created significant budget pressures on the University of Missouri. As a result, administrators have put in place cost-cutting measures, including layoffs, furloughs, travel bans, and spending restrictions,” The University of Missouri said in a statement.
Workers Exchange Commute for Telecommute
Workers lucky enough to have a job predominantly on a computer have the luxury of telecommuting during the pandemic. Zoom meetings replaced board meetings and standard work attire includes pajama pants.
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that an office environment isn’t necessary for productivity. Many businesses should expect to see more telecommuting requests once the pandemic ends, but don’t expect it to become the norm for modern business.
“Employees crave the kind of live interaction that only an office can provide,” says Joe Fuca, CEO of Reputation.com said to Chief Executive “They miss the routine, sense of community and opportunities for intersection outside their core group that comes from working in an office. The spontaneous conversation, the informal transference of knowledge, the collegiality—much of that just can’t be replicated virtually.”
Will Anything Be Normal Again? It is a question that has been on the tips of tongues for months now as COVID-19 has permanently changed the way the world does business. Can employees and businesses ever return to the status quo again?
As the pandemic continues and more breakouts are bound to happen in years to come, the future is uncertain, but the unemployed, essential, and telecommuting workers will persevere. There is no doubt that employees are being impacted by Covid-19, but they are adapting. Covid-19 does not seem to go away – so this could be our new normal.
Featured photo by cottonbro, Pexels