The new world of work

As employers recalibrate their businesses, they are grappling to address the psychological impact of COVID-19 on their employees.

Group of people meeting in studio office with laptops

COVID-19 has disrupted the world of work in many ways, changing where we work and the way we work, according to Andrew Ellery, Head of Community Engagement at icare.

“Social connections within the workplace have become more difficult to establish and maintain but the evidence tells us that being socially connected at work can be a protective factor for employees and organisations. Focusing on inclusion and belonging is a fundamental building block to achieving business sustainability,” says Mr Ellery.

“The experience for every organisation is different as we slowly return to a blended workplace. Some businesses might be returning with full staffing, others may have reduced their capacity and others may have a mix of workplace and remote working options. 

“Proactive action is required by management and every employee and requires a multi-faceted approach – we need to expand, adapt and innovate the ways we work together and connect as we go forward.” 

Online social connections workshop

An interactive workshop ‘Social connections in the workplace: building a connected workforce’ is the outcome of a collaboration between Griffith University’s Rehabilitation Innovation Service Evaluation (RISE) team and the Community Engagement team at icare. 

Dr Sam Ferguson, Senior Research Fellow at Griffith University, says many businesses have had to adapt and function with new regulations and health concerns to remain trading, but others have had to close completely.

“As a result, social connections have taken a backward step and been less of a priority, when facing the pressures of remaining open and reducing contact to prevent contagion,” says Dr Ferguson.

“We have also observed how the changes in the workplace have created barriers to maintaining connections. As for new recruits – they may be struggling with no connections from the outset.

“But when I’m asked why I think social connections matter more now than ever, the answer is not just due to the impact of COVID-19. It’s also because being socially connected is vital for health and wellbeing and can assist in building resilience in our employees. And, given the psychological impact on our employees – the increased stress, anxiety and uncertainty that many of us are currently feeling – this is exactly what we need.

“This workshop is unique because it’s a starting point for reflection on what has and hasn’t changed, and what this means for the social connections within the organisation. We’ll be sharing relevant tips or tricks to increase social connections with, and between, their employees.” 

Contact communityengagement@icare.nsw.gov.au for dates and availability.

Recalibrating ways of working: rebuilding our social connections

icare is running a series of immersive, interactive workshops for employers on rebuilding social connections in the workplace. Listen to Dr Sam Ferguson, Griffith University, discuss the benefits for your team.