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How might COVID-19 affect the workplace and businesses?

In this step, we’ll refer back to Susan’s story and Robyn’s videos. While much of the content we’ve covered so far applies to businesses and workplaces. We’ll pick out a few key factors.

Susan

Image of Susan

Susan’s story highlights issues around uncertainty and the current business climate, the systems her company uses, her relationships with colleagues, and her work environment.

As workers manage uncertainty, this can impact their work and spread throughout the workplace. A lack of clear information and a ‘plan’ can allow room for speculation and impact the mood of a workplace, often affecting motivation and productivity. Staff can also feel forgotten about or ‘in the dark’, creating an impact on organisational trust.

This raises the issue of systems used in a workplace, particularly in relation to communications. Most workplaces are increasingly relying on digital technology to communicate as Susan highlights. There can often be multiple systems and platforms for this, with a lack of clarity on what should be used when.

Communication naturally has a knock-on effect on relationships, especially as people are more physically and socially isolated. Disruption of working relationships can reduce productivity and team cohesion, as well as increase stress. Opportunities for communication, for example with line managers, can also be disrupted due to changing working patterns.

Susan also mentions working from home and her physical office environment. If workers struggle to adapt to home working or changing environments, this can be a factor in stress and productivity. New challenges may arise and previous benefits of environments before COVID-19 may become more apparent.

Pause for thought

When bearing these factors in mind, it is crucial to consider that each individual can be affected differently; a range of options and solutions are likely to be required.

How might workplaces and businesses be able to understand the individual needs of their workers?

Asking is an important first step! Across your workforce or through a network of managers, hearing how people are experiencing COVID-19 is essential and helps people to feel listened to.

Recapping with Robyn

Robyn’s videos raised major factors in workplace functioning in previous steps.

We looked at how anxiety and emotions can affect teams and workplaces. Considering this psychological impact across a whole organisation can give a helpful view of where challenges are arising.

Robyn’s helpful example was how feelings across an organisation can drive actions that aren’t always helpful, such as overactivity.

Building on emotional responses to think about interpersonal dynamics, we explored how individuals can take on roles on behalf of a group. We also saw how other issues can emerge, such as unhealthy competition across individuals and teams.

Finally, we briefly picked up on how organisations can feel a sense of loss during this time of change. Such experiences will be addressed in more detail next week when we think about organisational responses to the current situation.

How are the organisations that you are familiar with experiencing COVID-19 at the moment? Please add to the discussion below!

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This article is from the free online course:

COVID-19: Psychological Impact, Wellbeing and Mental Health

Maudsley Learning