I have been thinking a lot recently, how some roles and job characteristics might have changed as result from the happenings of the past year. Having a higher awareness and alertness about hazards, I envisage particular aspects of our working environment in the future to be different from how they were twelve months ago. I am talking about traits, features and practices that we previously performed intuitively, yet nowadays we over-scrutinize them. Sanitizing, wearing a mask, physical distancing are more relevant as they were equally unimportant before.
Naturally, because of my background, I am thinking mainly about jobs and professional dealings in aviation. Nevertheless, my rationale could be fitting to other sectors and industries. Various roles across commerce, manufacturing, agriculture or any other business area for that matter, they have been utterly affected. Others though, in the name of a wide precautionary excuse, they have simply been reformatted.
Take aviation security for instance. In my opinion, front-line security roles will go through a serious transformation. I worked in airport security positions for many years and I am fully aware about all aspects of the operation. Taking into account the pandemic circumstances, staff will never execute tasks with the same open-mindedness. Functions like passenger screening, vehicle search, terminal patrols, luggage examination and many other jobs, from now will be conducted inversely.
Proximity is an unavoidable feature of operational environments
Likewise, as security teams are confronted by the pandemic challenges, other aviation sections have to tackle similar issues too. From Cargo to emergency services and State authorities to ground handlers, they all must manage operations with care and responsibility. Yet, in the past few months this care and responsibility forced jobs to change. Proximity for example is an unavoidable feature ingrained in most working environments. As nearly all operational roles involve frequent physical interaction, it is now essential to change how jobs are carried out.
On a similar note, granted that previously we carried out many functions casually, we now have to rethink how to approach conventional situations. Daily team meetings, customer services, stakeholder relationships stand out for me in this category. With physical distancing rules imposed, how should we tackle ‘normal’ day-to-day interactions at the workplace? No more handshakes? Can managers no longer express appreciation towards employee outstanding performance by giving them a pat on the back? I suspect that relaxing in a canteen with colleagues, attending a trade union gathering and/or starting and finishing a shift will never be the same again!
We should protect employees from invisible dangers
The new circumstances have generated a vast gap between how we did things and how we will do them from this moment onward. Each employer must review job profiles, working conditions and person specifications in such way that in their policies they capture the new risks. Administrations and companies must revamp the working environments methodically to incorporate the new ‘normality’ within their organizational structure. More importantly, businesses must demonstrate that they do not expose employees to any ‘new’ invisible threats.
However, the ‘working from home’ concept clearly manifests my realization about changed roles and organizational reform. I would urge readers to think impartially and thoroughly about the effects of this phenomenon which actually is not as recent as it seems. By using positive scepticism one should be able to understand that remote working brought a degree of protection and safety by isolation. Nonetheless, on a long term the idea has fundamentally changed both labour relations and work in general.