Social Distancing and Impact in the Workplace

Impact of Social Distancing on the Workplace & Employee Mental State

During this time of uncertainty as we tread into unprecedented waters, we at ELS think it is important to focus on the impact social distancing has on not just us as individuals, but from an employment perspective as well. Social distancing is defined as the necessary measures and precautions taken to restrict large gatherings of people in order to stop the spread of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. As social creatures, this can have a hefty impact on both our mental state and everyday lives, especially when it comes to how we conduct ourselves at work. It is now imperative, more than ever, that employers need to institute a plan to help reduce the spread of infections. Regardless of the field of work, the safety of your employees should always come first.

For starters, it is absolutely crucial that employers maintain the highest level of flexibility throughout this period of social distancing. If remote work is not possible, this means considering taking actions such as:

  • sending sick employees home/emphasizing the need to stay home if ill
  • not requiring doctor’s notes
  • practicing and modeling hygiene etiquette
  • regular sanitizing of the workplace.

Social distancing also extends to keeping your employees informed on the pandemic updates, and possibly postponing/canceling any business trips and meetings. It is best to opt for online conferencing if possible.  We need to fully utilize the technology available and that we have been paying for! 

Last but not least, it is critical for employers to be empathetic. Although the likelihood of becoming infected by the virus is relatively low at the moment, the drastic impact of social distancing can take a great toll on employees mentally. Mental illnesses such as anxiety and depressive disorders are likely to heighten during this time. Everyone is concerned about finances, continued work, and the ability to sustain their businesses.  Both employer and employees have legitimate concerns.  Also, be careful that you are not marginalizing or subjecting certain employees to discrimination.  National origin or race discrimination can become rampant during times of distress like these.  We have seen some uptick in discrimination against employees of Asian descent.  As employers, we must all take the extra step to implement safe practices to care for our employees in this time of need. A little kindness and grace can go a long way.

                        “The highest form of knowledge is empathy.” Bill Bullard