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Ethics in the Workplace

The COVID pandemic has shaken up the workplace dynamics in every sector. At first, companies thought they could manage it without any significant changes in the workplace. But the necessity to abruptly shift to remote work posed massive challenges to a lot of companies.

For example, companies that relied on physical contact between employees and clients had to restructure the organization of the workplace. Similarly, companies that provide outsourcing services also needed to address ethical problems.

But as the pandemic rages on, working relationships are being affected at the same time. So, let’s check out what these changes signify for employees working remotely.

How has the working dynamics been affected?

Depending on the specific industry, work may not involve a lot of direct contact with other humans. Graphic designers don’t need to see their clients, as well as developers. Nevertheless, all employees have to abide by lockdown guidelines, like the rest of their colleagues.

Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, observes that the ethical implications of these lockdowns and internal company politics have hit different areas of the workplace, starting from the stakeholders to the consumers.

Here are the main ways COVID has affected companies at the organizational level:

Stringent performance evaluations

The research has shown that most top-level staff are worried about a decline in employee performance as they work remotely. As the global lockdown continues, stakeholders and CEOs are applying more pressure on managers and team leaders to demand more from their underlings.

As a result, employees have to undergo rigorous performance evaluations regularly. Moreover, this top-down managerial archetype affects employee morale by eroding freedoms. And not only that, but some companies also even use screen timers to monitor employee activity.

Moreover, companies have also decreased the size of some departments. This strategy is used as a ploy to ease the financial burden. Also, workers who are deemed ‘non-essential’ have lost their jobs unfairly.

Furthermore, employees with health issues have often been encouraged to pursue work using home remote options. And in cases when the sickness aggravates, most of them lose their employment.

Drastic changes in performance metrics evaluation

Before the pandemic, companies applied different metrics to measure the performance of teams. The metrics either focused on the time spent in the office or the amount of work completed.

However, the pandemic has forced most companies to adopt a result-oriented approach. Nowadays, employee performance metrics focus solely on the amount of work they have to complete during the workday.

At the same time, recruiters are also struggling to employ people for full-time work from home jobs. Since the physical presence of employees in the office is unnecessary in some industries, it is now challenging to convince recruits to work in an office setting.

According to the Brookings Institute, most people will never return to on-site work even after the pandemic ends. This new paradigm shift will affect the hiring practices of many companies in the future.

Problems with team cooperation and overall productivity

The abruptness of the lockdown did not grant companies enough time to train their employees on coping with remote work. As a result, freelance employees are struggling to replicate their workspace at home. People working in IT are also left to work in isolation. However, several distractions, like familial responsibilities, pose challenges to their productivity.

Moreover, most remote workers struggle with creativity due to a lack of change of scenery involved in remote work during a lockdown. Unfortunately, people in upper management don’t consider these distractions when evaluating employees’ performance. This leads to discontentment within the ranks of many companies.

Furthermore, employees working in teams have trouble communicating with other teammates. 63% of respondents claim to feel lonely and detached from their colleagues. Moreover, employees who work alone also suffer more detachment than their peers working in virtual teams.

As a result, team morale in most companies is at an all-time low in the IT industry. Reliance on freelancers means that most tech experts will become more isolated from the entire working process in the future.

Consumer engagement

Consumers have also been affected by the change in workflow dynamics at most companies.

First of all, the decline in productivity due to the pandemic has led to lower output and poor quality products. Companies are struggling to meet their annual objectives while abiding by safety precautions. As a result, customer satisfaction has also experienced a significant decrease.

Secondly, the economic impact of the COVID pandemic has prompted consumers to cut back on spending. The customer loyalty rate has also declined as users are less willing to pay for services than before.

Most importantly, clients are reacting to rumors of a potential economic downturn by focusing on local services instead of purchasing from abroad. Remote work

How can these ethical issues be addressed?

The pandemic has exposed some of the underlying administrative issues lingering within most companies’ organizational structures. But all is not lost. Here are effective ways for companies to address these issues.

  • Project managers and HR teams should organize regular meetings and team building activities to boost employee morale.
  • Employees worried about health risks should have the option to work remotely if they can replicate a similar productivity level.
  • Employees working in one-person teams should reach out to other colleagues for more interaction.
  • Human resources teams should address the grievances presented by employees regarding unfair punishment or performance evaluations.
  • Human resource specialists should evaluate all employment terminations due to health problems.
  • A temporary bonus system should be put in place to motivate members of staff to maximize their productivity.
  • Companies should reassure consumers by providing discounts and content for moral support.

What does the future hold?

It is no doubt that the pandemic has caused a seismic shift in the order of things. In the future, most companies will most likely adopt a different working approach. Companies that don’t require the physical presence of its staff will focus more on freelancers and remote workers.

Also, virtual communication programs will experience a massive boost to handle the demand from the workforce.

Similarly, the reliance on commutes will decline due to the proliferation of remote working opportunities. In essence, more companies will embrace a virtual working environment because of its sustainability.

This guest blog was written by Amanda Dudley. Here is a bit more about Amanda.

Amanda Dudley

Amanda Dudley is a highly-skilled content writer with an excellent mastery of the English language. She is a Ph.D. holder from Stanford University. Amanda has been lecturing college students of different levels since 2001. Her experience in the education system and provision of an essay writing service grant her the perfect base for tutoring  students. Amanda Dudley also assists students with their academic responsibilities.

In the spirit of the New Year, I am giving away signed copies of my book to the first ten people who contact me at: [email protected] and provide a mailing address. May your 2021 be better than 2020. Let's face it, it can't be worse!

Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on January 11, 2021. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.