The Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic causes significant changes to work environments. Those working see social distancing guidelines encouraged, personal protective items like gloves and masks worn, and reductions in the overall workforce. Others may be working from home or seeing schedule reductions, furloughs, or job loss from economic effects of COVID-19. We may benefit from shifting focus to work during these unprecedented circumstances.
If working, you may feel lucky to have income, but also vulnerable, since you risk exposure by going to work. Medical workers and emergency personnel made the decision to put themselves at risk to help others when their careers began, but now grocery, food service, and other essential employees may feel they are risking their health by working. If you are going to work, but feeling anxious or fearful about it, take some control by strictly following social distancing guidelines, washing you hands frequently, and wearing personal protective equipment when necessary. Stay informed by getting updates on COVID-19 from trusted medical experts, but don’t follow the constant news cycle about the virus during your free time, since being inundated with pandemic stories can be stressful.
If working from home, you may feel a sense of safety about your physical health, which could lead to increased productivity and good mental health. However, some will feel increased stress when thrown into a work from home scenario during the pandemic. Well-planned work from home situations can create up to a 13% increase in performance and a 50% drop in employee quit rates, according to Nicholas Bloom’s 2015 research. Unfortunately, today’s circumstances may include a lack of proper home office space, lack of privacy since the entire household is home, and a lack of control since working from home may be involuntary. Help yourself maintain structure by starting and ending in the same manner every day. For example, take 20 minutes in the morning to make coffee and check the news, then start working at a specific time. After your work day, take 30-60 minutes to exercise or prepare dinner. You would have been commuting to and from work under normal circumstances, so use this bonus time to set boundaries to your work day. Include regular breaks in your daily schedule and create an calm, comfortable workspace. Stay in contact with management to be clear about their expectations and goals during your time at home.
If you suffered a job loss due to COVID-19, remain diligent and patient as you work to secure unemployment insurance. Many states have long wait times to file and are dealing with websites that are crashing due to the unprecedented amount of claims. If you are in good health and want to work, many delivery and retail jobs are available at essential businesses. You may want to consider a short term loan to tide you over until work picks up or unemployment arrives. Many websites among other online options are available to help you through this difficult time.