11 Ways COVID-19 Affected Work and Society
November 20, 2020
CATEGORY: Career Hacks

The deadliest pandemic in modern history occurred in the year 1918 which lasted from 1918 to 1920. The virus that caused the disease was the H1N1 virus. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic reached every continent and countries except the barren and icy Antarctica and isolated islands. Because of the social distancing rules and the need to stay at home, most work and industries have been affected. Now we can expect that the virus has a lasting effect on the way we work and socialise. Here are the lasting effects:

More humility and humanity

Unlike the other natural disasters such as localised typhoon calamities, earthquakes, and volcanic eruption, the pandemic affected everyone - our work, commuting, eating habits and even sleeping patterns. The thought of living and experiencing a once in a lifetime pandemic transformed how we deal and treat others.  

When in the same boat, some people tend to be more emphatic. Others who are more generous continue to give whether it’s a free mask, money, food or service. Because of COVID-19, we are now learning how to be humble, spiritual and generous for others. Relief operations brought us together and let us experience the warmth of each other’s hand. The ongoing COVID-19 madness could have already made us think about the value of sharing. 

More flexible work

Since the mandatory social distancing rules took effect, some industries that can rely on flexible work began to consider working at home. Industries or businesses in information technology, media, food and beverage, accounting, and education are good examples. Some flexible works that can be done at home include blogging, programming, copywriting, event planning, marketing, online teaching, and online selling.

More emphasis on remote education

Long before the pandemic, online courses are already teaching hundreds to thousands of students. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) used modules, videos, and audios to teach courses on science, statistics, information technology, math, and anything that can be taught online. Online English teachers have been teaching students via Skype, Zoom, and other VOIPs. Now, because of the pandemic and the need to avoid physical contact between teachers and students, educators shifted to remote teaching.

Increased video calls than travelling

Due to restricted gatherings and movements, people have been limited to video calls. Social activities normally made through physical or personal interactions such as attending classes, corporate meetings, consulting a doctor’s advice, are now increasing. In Japan, some colleges used robots in place of graduating students to avoid virus infection. Such robots use an embedded tablet that shows the video stream of the remotely video chatting graduates. Only the faculty members were present during the graduation ceremony.

Increased underemployment

Underemployment refers to the situation where people are employed but are not using their skills and training. It also refers to being employed but insufficient to support financial needs. For example, you’re a nursing graduate, but due to stiff competition or few opportunities you suddenly find yourself working as a call centre agent. People see underemployment as a misdirected career or personal failure. On the other hand, in times of pandemic such as the ongoing COVID-19, underemployment is a blessing in disguise. 

While many can’t go to their office or lost their jobs because of social distancing measures, many were still able to find an opportunity doing jobs outside of their expertise. Unemployed individuals have tried making homemade products, signing up for home jobs, doing odd jobs, studying online, and reinviting careers. Being underemployed can build your resilience during these trying times.

More innovation

Innovation, the personal and group characteristics of creativity or the creation of ideas. For instance, the Japanese startup Donut robotics invented a mask that can translate speech into different languages. Here’s a video.

We have become more creative on how to deal with the shortages of personal protective equipment, alcohol, and COVID testing centres. The threat of virus infection compelled us to invent new things out of available resources.

Increased unemployment

Disruption in production and supply chains have made it difficult for small to medium business/companies to sustain normal operations. This resulted in shutdowns, layoffs, and salary reduction. Businesses that are more vulnerable comprise restaurants, hotel, motel, beach resorts, airline (domestic, international), and transportation. Even large corporations aren’t immune to negative economic effects of the pandemic.

More concern for healthcare

Because of the pandemic, more people became concerned about their health. In some countries without a centre for disease control units and infectious disease centres, budgets have been prioritised to cover such projects. Before the pandemic, many take their health for granted. The thought of facing a global pandemic is non-existent, with a remote probability occurring only in science fiction.

More reliance on robots

Robots - they don’t eat, drink or sleep. They can’t be infected which makes them a great tool for augmenting essential and non-essential products and services. The Business Insider reported that Softbank’s Pepper the robot has been used to remind, entertain, and greet people. Another robot is Whiz, an AI-controlled autonomous vacuum robot. Other uses of robots in Japan include:

  • Attend COVID-19 patients to reduce the risks of infections to healthcare personnel

  • Deliver medical and food supplies

  • Represent students during graduation

Increased use of drones

Drones are unnamed aerial vehicles controlled by a human via a radio device. The vehicle ranges in sizes from a palm to a car. Some drones are quadcopters (having four rotors) and others are tricopters (three rotors). Drones are equipped with cameras, GPS, gyroscopes (devices used for maintaining and measuring orientation/angular velocity). These are the possible uses:

  • Deliver food and beverage supplies

  • Deliver medical supplies

  • Disinfect streets

  • Survey neighbourhoods in need

  • Provide aerial video for media coverage

The new normal  

The new normal refers to the social norms regarded as part of daily normal life. For example, many Japanese companies such as Sony and Odakyu Electric Railway made flexible working arrangements for their workers to make sure that they can still work. Social distancing refers to keeping a distance of at least 2 meters and avoiding crowds and gatherings. The new normal involves:

  • Flexible working arrangements (Work from home) or reduced working hours at company offices

  • Mandatory wearing of face mask and face shields

  • Social distancing

  • COVID-19 tests

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