Post COVID-19 Social Change:
Rise in Online Working and its Psycho-Social effects
2020 was the year of change. So much has changed in response to the outbreak of global pandemic of COVID-19. It marks a new era in history of the world. Most of the phenomenon are now described in reference to COVID-19 because their nature has changed quite a lot following the pandemic. Some of them even transformed into a social change. One such change is the shift from office-based employees to online home-based, working either freelance or a regular company employee.
Where in pandemic so many people lost their jobs and businesses were at halt, online work from home popularly referred to as work from home came out as a new normal to fill in the gap. People kept joining in and the number is still increasing till date. According to Forbes, in a recent global study, 80% employers are in view of hiring freelance workers rather than full-time hirings. The workers can operate with convenience without the need for relocation on regular basis for conventional office-based jobs. While, it is providing flexible opportunities to the masses and generating higher incomes with lower costs, there are various psycho-social effects to it as well that are mostly being ignored.
To develop a synergy with companies, clients, and employers from other parts of the world, these people usually follow odd working hours that differ from their standard time zones. The boundaries between the professional and personal life are essentially blurred as homes have turned into working spaces. This disturbs the work-life balance and generates constant infringement of personal and family space. The freelance culture ensures that the workers stay online for extended hours reducing their ability to socialize, ultimately cutting them off from the community and significantly increasing screentime. This results in major forms of anxiety, burnout and depression amongst the workers.
Due to this shift from professional environment to home-based working spaces, there has been less face to face social interaction, making the people socially conscious. Virtual meetings and discussions cannot make up for real life interactions and generate the sentiment of alienation. These new working patterns and behaviors have disrupted the social fabric of the society. With every newly emerging social phenomenon it establishes new norms in its wake, same is the case for these new online working systems. Whether this has the potential to completely take over the traditional job market and what are the associated social and phycological costs with such trends remains outside the social discourse as of now. Humans are a social animal and cannot operate optimally in an isolation. They are meant to socialize to learn through social experiences. The overly digitalized work designs hold the potential to single handedly restructure the patterns of communal life posing jarring repercussions of at the individual, household and community levels. The question that would the humans be able to make a smooth and stable transition towards virtual socialization or would succumb to emotional and social challenges presented by the same remains unanswered.