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Working in a Coronavirus World

20 May 2020

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Throughout the world the Covid-19 epidemic has had a far-reaching effect on every single aspect of life. In business terms, according to the BBC News online a total of 81% of the global workforce of 3.3. billion people have had their workplace fully or partly closed due to the outbreak.

Restrictions on daily life throughout all countries have led to the closure of many companies and the laying off of staff - either permanently or temporarily - and we are all looking at a new way of working and living in the coronavirus world.

To find out more about how the virus is affecting people's working lives, Paylab.com carried out an international survey during the March and April 2020 with a sample of 11,000 people from 15 countries (Finland, Central Europe, the Balkans and the Baltics).


The respondents were from across a range of industries, positions, education levels and ages. Of the sample 55.5% were male and 44.1% were female. The majority of respondents (66%) were aged between 25-54 years.




In terms of their positions, more than 59% of respondents were qualified skilled employees, a further 14% were service employee skilled workers, 17% were from management, 8% were clerical workers and 3% unskilled workers.


There was also a mix of education levels across the sample. Of those who responded 54% had a university degree and 2% were postgraduates, 30 % had reached secondary education, and a further 8% had a higher professional educational.


55% of workers think their job is at risk

An overwhelming 55% of respondents thought that their job may be at risk because of the current situation and the measures that have been taken in response to the pandemic, and this was true across all regions.

24% of people from the Western Balkan region felt that their jobs were very vulnerable at this time, compared to just 15% in the V4 countries.

Whose job is most at risk?

The coronavirus seems to have had most impact on service employees. 66% of them feel like their job is at risk because of the situation. 63% of unskilled workers also felt at risk as did 62% of clerical workers. Of those in management positions 54% said that their job was under threat.

Skilled qualified workers seem to be the least affected but having said that half of them still felt vulnerable about their job at this time.

In terms of gender differences, more women have been affected than men with 69% of them stating that their job is at risk as opposed to 58% of men.


Three quarters of employees have been affected by Coronavirus

We asked the sample whether they had been personally affected by the lockdown measures relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the 11,000 answers, 38% of employees are now working from home. 16% are taking holiday time and 3% are taking family care leave to be able to look after their children. 14% have had to take a wage reduction, 9% have been forced to work shorter hours and 5% have taken unpaid time off.

Sadly 6% of the sample have been made redundant as a result of the outbreak and 3% are unable to work and are in quarantine.

25% have not been affected at all. Thankfully a quarter of those asked have not been affected at all by the situation.

More employees from Finland and the Baltic regions stated that nothing had changed or personally affected them (33% compared to 21% of employees from the Western Balkan).

For those in management positions, 23% of them have had to take a reduction in salary or hours, 38% of them are able to work from home and 25% of them have not been affected so far.

More skilled qualified workers seem to be able to work from home (46%) and 21% of them have had to reduce their salary or hours. 24% of this category have been unaffected as well.

Service employees are the least able to work from home due to the nature of their job - just 4% of those surveyed. A similar number have had to take a wage or hour reduction (26%) but a higher number have been unaffected by the pandemic (34%).

43% of unskilled workers have been largely unaffected by Covid-19, although a quarter of them have had to take a wage or hour decrease.

We can see from the results some gender inequality with 27% of females having to take a reduction in wages or hours compared to 23% of men and 34% of females saying that they are not affected by the situation as opposed to 51% of men being unaffected.

The redundancies seem to have affected more service employees than any other category with 10% of them having lost their job as a result of the epidemic. 


56% of employees are able to work from home

Just over half of all the people surveyed are allowed to work from home by their employer but 38% of respondents are not allowed to work from home.

Those respondents in Finland and the Baltic regions are the least likely to be allowed to work from home (46%) while Eastern Balkan and the other countries (including Western Europe, Asia and Africa countries) have the highest number of people able to work from home (61% and 65% respectively).

37% of females who responded said that their employers do not allow them to work from home, and a similar number of men said the same (38%).


Are workers protected against the coronavirus?

We questioned what personal protective equipment (PPE) is being provided by employers.

For those who are able to go into their place of work, it is encouraging to learn that most employers are providing some form of PPE (personal protective equipment) for their employees. Half of them are providing gloves, and two thirds of them are providing disinfectant gel, soap or spray as well as face masks. 20% of those who answered said that they are having to provide their own PPE and this is true across all of the countries involved in the survey.

More face masks are being provided in the V4 countries than any others (68%). 66% of employers in the Eastern Balkan are providing face masks, 60% in the Western Balkan, 57% in other countries and 52% of businesses in Finland and the Baltic.


Looking for a new job?

Paylab.com asked the 11,000-strong sample if they were considering looking for a new job in the coming days and weeks.

Overall 31% of all respondents said that they would be looking for a new job in the near future. 19% were unsure and 50% didn't think they would be looking for a new job at this time of uncertainty.

The highest number of people saying that they would be looking for a new job came from the other countries including Western Europe, Asia and Africa (46%) followed by the Western Balkan region (40%).

74% of people from Baltic and Finland and 73% from the V4 countries wouldn't or didn't think they would be looking for a new job in the near future, nor did 64% from the Eastern Baltic, 60% from the Western Baltic or 54% from the other countries. 

In terms of position type, those in management positions are the least likely group to be looking for a new job. 54% of them said they wouldn't be looking as opposed to 51% of skilled and qualified workers, 42% of service employees, 42% of unskilled workers and 41% of clerical staff.

In fact clerical workers are the most likely group (39%) to start looking for a new position in the coming weeks and months as a result of this outbreak.


More women than men are keen to do volunteer work

More than half of the people surveyed (52%) weren't willing to engage in any volunteer work in their area in addition to their paid work. Thankfully 48% of people were happy to do some volunteer work and of those, 11% were already volunteering and giving back to the community.

Most of the people questioned who are already involved in some form of volunteering work come from the V4 countries (15%) and other countries (14%) and respondents from Finland and the Baltic regions were least likely to do any volunteer work (70%).

There was some gender difference again: 47% of women were keen to volunteer compared with 43% of men questioned.


A new way of working

The results from this Paylab.com survey give us a really interesting snapshot of what is happening for the work force across a range of countries during the quarantine period, and how much the Coronavirus and the measures introduced by all the governments has affected their working lives so far.

As lockdowns around the world slowly begin to ease, businesses will now be looking to introduce practical steps (following official guidelines) to enable employees to return to work in as safe a way as is possible. It will be fascinating to see how employees are impacted by the next set of measures and what the new way of working will look like across the world. 



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