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. All these 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 employees in doing effective and ergonomic work.
As well, recent surveys show that employees and managers are positive about the effectiveness of remote working. BCG reported a 15 to 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 relatives and work. On the other side, single employees experience loneliness and lack of purpose (source).
Next to that, people also experience stress from the pandemic itself. There is scientific evidence that quarantining can lead to adverse psychological effects. Such as post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. At the same time, many people (24% of UK-residents and 34% of Americans) are scared of contracting coronavirus. 68% of Americans fear a long-lasting effect on the economy. With 57% worried about the virus making a direct impact on their personal finances. Additionally, there is fear that employees will suffer from work-related health issues. Due to prolonged unergonomic postures in improvised remote offices, and delayed health care.
Employee well-being at risk
It seems that well-being is at risk for many employees. But the variety of risk factors is great and differs a lot between employees. From company engagement to physical health problems, mental health problems and family problems. Many factors related to COVID-19 contribute to low well-being and poor 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 worry about personal finances, and 33% of employees are anxious about their job security. It is likely that employees will try everything to do their work as effective as possible. But at the same time, they will have lost their joy and full immersion into their work. This conclusion and the above-mentioned stress factors are disturbing many employers and scientists(1,2,3,4). Since there could be a potential increase in burn-outs and mental health disorders (in)directly related to COVID-19.