The world is grappling with a novel pandemic, which has had a dual impact on humans. On the one hand, we are dealing with a unique pathogen, which is slyly changing itself at an alarming rate, leaving us baffled, and with healthcare still struggling in a large majority of countries. What makes this pathogen even more interesting is its ability to mutate fast. This has led to the emergence of not just new strains, but strains unique to geographical regions.
With so much to deal with already, it is quite natural that a large proportion of the population is actually feeling ‘not so’ optimistic about the whole situation, especially regarding when we would, or will we at all, be able to cure this disease off the face of the earth. To add to it, a part of the public and some experts are of the opinion that the long-awaited vaccines may, quite against our hopes, not be as efficacious in the long term against the pathogen and ensure 100% protection. Nevertheless, it is indeed being said that the chances of contracting an infection would certainly reduce with an increasing number of doses.
On the other hand, Covid has driven organisations to explore alternative models of operation to accommodate its current and impending impacts. Foresight has certainly become even more important now that none of us, not even experts, can, with any degree of certainty, say when it will be brought under check, despite the aggressive vaccination drives by global administrations.
An alternative model that has suddenly risen to prominence is that of work from home. According to some, or perhaps many, Covid has pretty much changed what business-as-usual has been so long for most companies, compelling them to altogether redefine it in some cases. With work from home in full force, there has also been a massive digitisation of interaction in the professional context. Companies are suddenly discussing the benefits of tools such as Slack and Zoom, and some have even gone a step further to digitise rewards and recognition to keep employees motivated.
In all of this, there has emerged a common feeling of employees experiencing burnout, which is brought on by prolonged stress. Although many organisations have come forth with innovative initiatives to help employees deal with work stress, a substantial proportion of the workforce may still be struggling to cope with it. A common opinion is that with commute out of the equation, it is now believed that employees can utilise those extra hours for production. This may have had an impact elsewhere. Many feel that the work-home balance has been slightly to significantly tilted, with employees clocking 10–12 hours frequently. Another factor that has had a great impact is the lack of a tangible connection, which is so important in many situations. We like to connect, meet, discuss, and not always virtually. Thus, we may pride ourselves on our innovation to cope with the crisis, but we know all too well that nothing can ever replace the real human connection.
Abhijit Chakraborty is a senior content editor at upGrad, a digital education organisation in India. He is also a mental health advocate.