We all have lost the workplace that physically connected us together. The online way-of-working caused us to miss out on small-talk, gossip, chemistry and empathy which are essential to sustain the social bond between colleagues (source). The physical workplace got us in our working mindset and made (some of) us feel purposeful, while the office facilities supported us in doing our work effectively and ergonomically. Nevertheless, recent surveys have shown that employees and managers are quite positive about the effectiveness of remote working. BCG reported a 15-40% increase in productivity, this poll showed that 65% of employees believed remote working was more effective. But on the other side there are also many signs of employees struggling with their well-being. Remote workers feel unable to unplug from work since the borders between work and life have become blurred. Many employees with families have difficulties with dividing their attention between their relatives and their work. While on the other side, single employees experience a sense of loneliness and a general lack of purpose (source). Next to that, people also experience stress from the pandemic itself. There is scientific evidence that quarantining can lead to psychological effects such as post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. While at the same time, many people (24% of UK-residents and 34% of Americans) are scared of contracting the coronavirus. 68% of the Americans fear a long-lasting effect on the economy, with 57% worried about the virus making a direct impact on their own personal finances. Furthermore, there is a fear that employees will suffer from health issues due to prolonged unergonomic postures in improvised remote offices, and delayed health care.
It seems that well-being is at risk for many employees. But the variety of risk factors is great and differs vastly between employees. From company engagement, to physical health problems, mental health problems and family problems: many factors (in) directly related to COVID-19 contribute to low well-being and ill performance at work. Altogether, work might have taken a different place in the lives of many employees since they lost the close connection to their colleagues and the immersion in the workplace. Now, family and friends replace the social connection while their own homes replace the workplace. Together, this might lead to a decremental work engagement. Nevertheless, employees know that the continuation of work is more important than ever since the economic consequences of the pandemic are lurking. This is why 57% of employees are worried about personal finances, and 33% of employees are concerned about their job security. It is likely that employees will try everything to do their work effectively but will have lost their joy and full immersion in their work. This hypothesis, and the above-mentioned stress factors, have concerned many employers and scientists(1,2,3,4) about potential increase in burn-outs and mental health disorders (in)directly related to COVID-19.