HR perspective: Lockdown and workers’ response

HR perspective: Lockdown and workers’ response

WITH the Covid-19 related lockdown comes challenges for businesses and individuals to rise to the occasion in order to stay alive and minimise the negative effects of the pandemic, loss of jobs and business decline.

The present lockdown is worse for many workers as it comes at the end of the festive season when many people have no money or have limited money to meet basic needs.

With high unemployment and large numbers of informal workers out of business, there is a need to look at Covid-19 from a long-term perspective and decide how one will live with it.

One important thing for workers to accept is that Covid-19 is there and it kills, secondly, employees have to accept that observing the disease management guidelines will reduce the risk of contracting it, but the risk remains there.

Workers have to take lessons from countries like Italy where thousands died and New Zealand where many survived.
Further, it is a fact that our medical facilities and staff are not adequately equipped to deal with serious outbreak and cases of Covid-19, thus the need to work at being safe all the time.

That having been said, the biggest challenge is that life has to go on despite all the challenges.

It is a fact that after the lockdown, some businesses will go down, some jobs will be lost, some businesses will recover, some workers will go for long periods without wages and for others, the lockdown will be a blessing in disguise as it will unlock new opportunities

It is not time for workers to sit at home and wait for January to end as Covid-19 will still be there and lockdown may be extended and jobs may no-longer be there or they will take another direction.

If those who have lost jobs earlier did not die but to up other callings and are surviving, there is nothing stopping today’s workers to accept that the contagion is permanently changing the way we do things and respond accordingly.

The last lockdown saw many people not going back to their jobs as they were making more money and getting better quality of life from what they were doing, some went into various services and today they have comfortable lives and this lockdown hardly affects them.

Workers have to be part of the business and offer to work from home until the Covid-19 menace is behind us.
From experience, one can do much more working from home if disciplined.

All that is needed are working from home tools which include your laptop, Wi-Fi access, cell phone, source of power, a desk and a chair.

With these, one can do work for an employer anywhere in the world, for example, lawyers who are members of international arbitration bodies can do international Online Dispute Resolution from the comfort of their homes.

Accountants, journalists, and finance managers can now work anywhere in the world from home. I know of a finance executive who lives in one African country but works as a finance executive for two companies in different countries while at home.

Think of the lady who does face masks from home and sells to schools, someone who bakes cakes from home and gets orders online, someone who grows vegetables and gets orders online, someone who does spares for taxis and orders from South Africa online with customers getting delivering after a few days.

All those businesses are already running from homes.

These are just a few examples.

The majority of organisations we work for can easily be split and taken to our homes or be driven from online facilities.

We have seen Covid-19 accelerating disappearance of malls and supermarkets in Europe and the United States, a sign that we can also change and work to survive under the pandemic.

Our biggest let-down is that we are battling to go back to old ways as soon as lockdown measures are relaxed.

Trade Unions and workers committees should look beyond wages and salaries but preservation of jobs and improving the quality of jobs.

It is time unions find a means so that organisations respond to change in a manner that ensures continued employment and growth of the organisation.

In conclusion, workers should not just sit at home but either work from home or retool themselves and move on.

Its not about having money but mindset and taking the first step in the thousand miles journey.

l Davies Ndumiso Sibanda can be contacted on:

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