Million of lives came to a halt when Covid-19 was declared as a pandemic by WHO (World Health Organisation) on March 11, 2020. Almost a year and half has gone by since we began dealing with this deadly virus which has catastrophically impacted humans globally.
It is said that the Covid-19 crisis is considerably more profound than the global financial crisis of 2008. Unemployment is skyrocketing and the economy is lowering at a never before rate. Many business are disappearing gradually as they are falling below breakeven points.
Covid-19 has led to a drastic shift in work culture from traditional ways to WFH (work from home). Financial Express reported that approximately 40% of the workforce can afford to WFH the remaining 60% whose jobs don’t pay too much, are continuously on the verge of losing it.
This section of low-skilled and vulnerable workers need more attention to be paid towards their effective retraining and upliftment policies by the government.
The work environment in the post Covid-19 era will never be the same as digitalisation is hovering all over work spaces. Businesses who will take most advantage of this new work culture and introduce latest technology, will have competitive advantage over others in the industry.
Coming to working women, the scenario is way too stressful. Women, in general, are at higher risk for losing their jobs than other sections of the workforce. According to a report by the Center for American Progress, women have lost a net of 5.4 million jobs during recession—nearly 1 million more jobs than men.
This has lead to a huge gap in gender equality. Due to the strict lockdown and home quarantine imposed by the government, many working women had to quit their jobs as working on-screen while simultaneously taking care of one’s children at home, is not an easy process.
Moreover, in a condition where one of the spouses have to quit working in order to do household chores, women choose to quit as the burden to do so falls disproportionately on them.
The entrepreneurial women, who used to have small share in the market, are struggling to survive. For services such as salons, makeup parlours etc., Covid-19 has turned the in-demand services in good times to nothing less than a bargain in tough times.
Like with other sections of the workforce, young people and especially the youths of developing countries, have been hit hard by the pandemic. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), more than one in six young people have stopped working.
Also, the youths who are in the workforce, or are now trying to enter it, will find it very difficult to get a decent job. “If their talent and energy is side-lined by a lack of opportunity or skills, it will damage all our future and make it much more difficult to rebuild a better post-Covid economy,” said Guy Ryder, the director general of the ILO.
If the condition remains the same, then the present generation will face a huge exclusion from the laboour market; and in the future, when things will start to recover, there is a fear that many youths will still be left behind.
Before Corona, the life of Faisal (the sole earning member in his family) was going well. Six months before March 2020, he got hired in Delhi. But as soon as the Coronavirus lead to a health emergency alert worldwide, Faisal’s life became super difficult.
Due to the strict implementation of lockdowns, Faisal finds it near impossible to access public transport to get to work. Moreover, he works for a company that deals with heavy transport vehicles. So, anyway his job wasn’t required during the pandemic.
Faisal recalls life in between leisure and lockdown came to a point of stagnation. After giving it three months of patience and solitude, he was forced to quit the job as he was going bankrupt with each passing day. The company couldn’t help him either as its employers were already running on losses.
The economy as a whole was struggling, leading to the shattered dreams for many young people. India in particular, comprises a large population of young people: over 600 million people or almost one in two people, are under the age of 25.
Like Faisal, many youths are now getting finding it hard to enter the workforce.
Life in Covid-19 has shown us many ups and downs. Unlike many losing jobs, a 2021 graduate student from the National Institute of Technology, Samridhi Vats got recruited by a pharma company. Vats recalled that when she got hired, a sense of security came around, where everyone was loosing jobs, she was fortunate enough to manage one.
But, adapting to the new normal, she has to WFH, which exhausts her— looking at a screen for 8-9 hours is very frustrating and unhealthy. Moreover, it may threaten one’s mental stability.
Life in the online mode would lead to a robotic world, where communication, meetings, interactions would become theoretical. WFH sounds lucrative to begin with, but their isn’t a clear demarcation between work and life.
I believe that sooner or later, humans will find a way out of this hard time as well.
by Shahnawaz Alam