Impact of COVID-19 and the rise of work-from-home setup

In almost all countries worldwide, people are dealing with a time of a great lockdown, strict social distancing, and quarantine, which is part of the government’s agenda to flatten the curve and slow down the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This outbreak has disrupted many areas, one of which is the workplace, where companies were urged to implement changes following the mandated community quarantine. Socio-economic impacts are being felt as well and it has affected people’s daily lives.


Social Impact

We are all aware that COVID-19 affects people regardless of their age, gender, class, and color. In the latest statistics, over 2 million cases have been reported worldwide; 611,880 recoveries while 164,938 deaths as of April 20, 2020. The Philippines has reported a number of 6,259 positive cases, 572 recoveries, and 409 deaths. The Philippines has a case fatality rate of 6.6 percent, slightly higher than the global average, which is 6.4 percent.

According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, certain populations in our society face discrimination and are more susceptible to the health and economic impact brought upon by the pandemic.

It states there that, “Early evidence indicates that that the health and economic impacts of the virus are being borne disproportionately by poor people. For example, homeless people, because they may be unable to safely shelter in place, are highly exposed to the danger of the virus. People without access to running water, refugees, migrants, or displaced persons also stand to suffer disproportionately both from the pandemic and its aftermath – whether due to limited movement, fewer employment opportunities, increased xenophobia, etc.”

To combat the virus amidst this landscape of lockdown, there’s a call for an all-out effort to save and protect the lives of all people, especially the vulnerable.


Economic Impact

Looking more closely at the economic impact caused by COVID-19, it’s been compared with the Global Financial Crisis back in 2008-2009 and is said to be as worst as the Great Depression.

According to the World Economic Outlook report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), due to the Great Lockdown, the global economy is projected to contract 3 percent in 2020, which is reported to be much worse than the 2008–2009 financial crisis.

Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) reports that the Philippine economy could lose between $669 million and $1.94 billion. And also lose 87,000 to 252,000 jobs across the following sectors due to the outbreak: agriculture, mining and quarrying; business, trade, personal and public services; light/heavy manufacturing, utilities and construction; hotel, restaurants and other personal services, and transport services.

These projected outlook reports may seem like the future economic scene is bleak, not just for the Philippines but also worldwide. However, once this is all over, the urgency to bounce back will be much stronger and businesses will be better equipped with the experience of handling such a crisis.


Rise of the work-from-home setup

In light of the coronavirus, there’s been a great shift for a lot of businesses to implement a work-from-home arrangement. For companies with a traditional organization, it may seem difficult to adjust and embrace a remote way of working.

Bosses and employees may respond differently with their views and experience; some may find it difficult to focus on their tasks and feel more easily distracted working inside their home, while others enjoy working in the comforts of their home and being able to spend more time with their family.

The streets of Metro Manila are no longer bustling with the sound of vehicles and sidewalks are quieter than usual that’s because the traffic has transferred digitally into social media platforms and video-conferencing apps. Market trends are projected downwards, but apps such as Zoom and Google Hangouts have experienced the opposite with a surge in demand and usage due to the rise of remote work.

Without a doubt, modern technology has made it possible for many of us to have business continuity during this crisis. And while traditional organizations and certain fields of work that require being on-site are disinclined to work at home, other companies may discover the opportunities behind the arrangement, which could open a path for employees to be given the option to work in the office or at home.

In other parts of the world where societies have already adjusted to the impact of COVID-19 such as China, associate professor of organizational behavior at the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing Zhang Xiaomeng, shared, “The COVID-19 outbreak is just another chance for companies to re-examine the relationship between companies and employees, and to elevate their corporate culture to be mutually beneficial.”

Everyone and every sector have been affected by the pandemic, consequently, it’s certainly possible for a “New Normal” to arise, from governments handling the welfare of people in the society, economies implementing risk reduction management, and redefining new ways of working.

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