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Coronavirus – The Potential to Change Employment Forever?

Published: Tuesday 17th March 2020

Reading this, you will already know what Coronavirus is, what you must do to stay safe, and as equally depressingly, the best place to find toilet paper. However, there is no denying that the changes forced upon us have been sudden and dramatic. Now, we’re not going to write about the top ten best ways to wash your hands, or equally, ignore what is going on and talk about how to write a C.V. Yes, we need to continue going about our business as best we can, yet to write about anything else, ignoring the huge coughing elephant in the room would, we think, be equally silly. So, to meet the growing hunger for Coronavirus/disaster movie related content, and this being an employment blog, we’re going to take a small, and not entirely educated, look at what Coronavirus could mean for job seekers and employers moving forward.

Coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus – Be careful what you search for

Whist we are seeing some changes, it is of course much too early for us to make any real assertations. However, one thing we can say with real clarity is that we have seen an increase in ‘working from home’ searches. From which we can deduct, “Well duh!” However, whilst way too early to see any real changes in user patterns, may we humbly suggest it’s just as equally too early to believe little will change in regards to the types of jobs people want, and in turn, how employers will need to react to such changes.

As we have seen, nothing other than the obvious can be taken from search terms over the past few weeks, but this will likely change. ‘Jobs without commuting’, ‘jobs without people’, ‘jobs with guaranteed toilet paper’, who knows what criteria people will be placing more weight on when job searching in the future. Therefore, whilst any increase in ‘working from home’ or similar such searches is not proof of anything at the moment, there is likely a small seed of truth buried within, one that has the potential to grow and grow, until finally blooming into the much more common search ‘rewarding remote working careers for under 50’s in the greater London area’.

senior man filling in application form while working with laptop at home in cozy living room. Working from home concept

Commuting to the kitchen

It may sound ridiculous to say that Coronavirus could change how we work and live, yet some experts suggest we only need look back a decade to see exactly that. The 2008 global banking crisis had and continues to have serious repercussions around the world, yet one lesser known ripple was the 4-day week. Introduced by US banks to reduce staffing costs, the trend began to spread once everyone [the bankers] saw the benefits, with it now being something of the norm for a lot of industries. Whilst it may be too early to suggest any real, long-term changes to employment because of Coronavirus, it could be considered just as short sighted to believe nothing at all will change either.

The mountain may come to you

One likely outcome from people having to work from home will be the realisation that they can. This realisation, combined with fears around commuting, large crowds and simple jealously of those working from home, are likely to drive up demand for such positions. Such positions becoming more attractive will have a natural ‘uglying’ effect on other jobs, forcing many companies to convert roles to home-based where possible, or simply offering better working conditions, including higher wages, better healthcare or monthly toilet role bonuses. Glamourous central city offices that require commuting on public transport could become even less attractive than they are now, as could positions involving meeting lots of people or international travel.

covid-19 spreading outbreak. Woman in medical protective mask panic buying tissue paper. Fear of coronavirus.

Nothing will change

Of course, while all/some of this may happen, it may also not, it’s just too early to know. With many people now talking about making the switch from office to home, admittedly often only by those who can, for many others making the switch isn’t possible. One of the most common job search terms before the current crisis was ‘warehouse operative’, followed by ‘part-time work’ and ‘temp work’. The discord that could arise between the demand by workers to work at home and the realities of many industries is one that both parties are going to have to wrestle with in the future.

Remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.

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