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Pandemics: Implications for Research and Practice in Industrial and Organizational Psychology



Pandemics have historically shaped the world of work in various ways. With COVID-19 presenting as a global pandemic, there is much speculation about the impact that this crisis will have for the future of work and for people working in organizations. In this article, we discuss 10 of the most relevant research and practice topics in the field of industrial and organizational (IO) psychology that will likely be impacted by COVID-19. For each of these topics, the pandemic crisis is creating new work-related challenges, but also presenting various opportunities. The topics discussed herein include occupational health and safety, work-family issues, telecommuting, virtual teamwork, job insecurity, precarious work, leadership, human resources policy, the aging workforce, and careers. This article sets the stage for further discussion of various ways in which IO psychology research and practice can address the impacts of COVID- 19 for work and organizational processes that are affecting workers now and will shape the future of work and organizations in both the short and long term. This article concludes by inviting IO psychology researchers and practitioners to address the challenges and opportunities of COVID-19 head-on by proactively innovating the work that we do in support of workers, organizations, and society as a whole.
Pandemics: Implications for Research and Practice in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Cort W. Rudolph
Saint Louis University
Blake Allan
Purdue University
Andreas Hirschi
University of Bern
Mindy Shoss
University of Central Florida
Malissa Clark
University of Georgia
Florian Kunze
University of Konstanz
Sabine Sonnentag
University of Mannheim
Guido Hertel
University of Münster
Kristen Shockley
University of Georgia
Hannes Zacher
Leipzig University
Please Cite As:
Rudolph, C.W., Allan, B., Clark, M., Hertel, G., Hirschi, A., Kunze, F., Shockley, K., Shoss, M.,
Sonnentag, S., & Zacher, H. (2020). Pandemics: Implications for Research and Practice
in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Industrial and Organizational Psychology:
Perspectives on Science and Practice.
Author Note
Cort W. Rudolph, Department of Psychology, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO,
USA. Blake Allan, College of Education, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA. Malissa
Clark, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA. Guido Hertel,
Department of Psychology, University of Münster, Münster, Germany. Andreas Hirschi,
Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
Florian Kunze, Chair for Organisational Studies, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany.
Kristen Shockley, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA. Mindy
Shoss, Department of Psychology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA. Sabine
Sonnentag, Department of Psychology, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany. Hannes
Zacher, Institute of Psychology – Wilhelm Wundt, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany.
Correspondence concerning this article may be addressed to Cort W. Rudolph,
Department of Psychology, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis MO, USA, e-mail:
Mindy Shoss’ contribution to this publication was supported by grant number
T42OH008438, funded by the National Institute Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) under
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility
of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIOSH or CDC or the
Department of Health and Human Services.
Author order was determined alphabetically (excluding the first author).
Pandemics have historically shaped the world of work in various ways. With COVID-19
presenting as a global pandemic, there is much speculation about the impact that this crisis will
have for the future of work and for people working in organizations. In this article, we discuss 10
of the most relevant research and practice topics in the field of industrial and organizational (IO)
psychology that will likely be impacted by COVID-19. For each of these topics, the pandemic
crisis is creating new work-related challenges, but also presenting various opportunities. The
topics discussed herein include occupational health and safety, work-family issues,
telecommuting, virtual teamwork, job insecurity, precarious work, leadership, human resources
policy, the aging workforce, and careers. This article sets the stage for further discussion of
various ways in which IO psychology research and practice can address the impacts of COVID-
19 for work and organizational processes that are affecting workers now and will shape the
future of work and organizations in both the short and long term. This article concludes by
inviting IO psychology researchers and practitioners to address the challenges and opportunities
of COVID-19 head-on by proactively innovating the work that we do in support of workers,
organizations, and society as a whole.
Keywords: Pandemic; Crisis; Novel Coronavirus; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2
Pandemics: Implications for Research and Practice in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Throughout human history, pandemics have shaped how work is understood, carried out,
and organized. For example, historians have suggested that following the Black Plague in 1350,
laws and attitudes regarding labor and compensation changed across Western Europe (Cohn,
2007). Similarly, in the midst of the 1918 flu pandemic, which disproportionately affected
working-age adults, labor uprisings in the United States resulted in hundreds of thousands of
workers walking off their jobs in protest of working conditions (Freeman, 2020; Clay, 2020).
Following the 1918 pandemic, workers saw improvements in health and safety protections,
including the advent of employer-sponsored health insurance schemes (Spinney, 2020). More
recently, the SARS pandemic of 2003 had demonstrable impacts on the health and well-being of
essential workers in “systems relevant” occupations, with between 18% and 57% of frontline
health care workers reporting experiencing high-levels of emotional distress while managing this
crisis (Maunder et al., 2006).
Since the World Health Organization (WHO, 2020) declared the novel coronavirus
COVID-19 as a global pandemic crisis on March 11, 2020, there have been over 4.2 million
confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 177 countries (approximately one-third or 33% of confirmed
cases have occurred in the United States alone), and over 289,000 associated deaths, worldwide
(n.b., statistics as of May 12, 2020; see Wu et al., 2020). Apart from immediate health
consequences and mortality, it is still too soon to know the scope of the psychological, social,
economic, and cultural impact of COVID-19. However, like with the historical examples offered
above, there are already tangible global impacts of COVID-19 on work-related processes. In the
United States, jobless rates have skyrocketed to levels never before seen, with 3.3 million new
unemployment claims posted in the week of March 23, 2020 alone, which doubled to 6.6 million
the following week, up to a total of 16.78 million total claims in the week of April 6th (n.b., the
highest rate of new claims ever previously recorded was 695,000 in October 1982; Cox,
2020a,b). As of May 7th, 1 in 5 American workers had filed for unemployment benefits (totaling
approximately 33.5 million claims over seven weeks; Tappe, 2020).
Similar patterns have been observed globally, however buffered to some extent by more
proactive and progressive state-supported social and economic policies. For example, as of
March 3rd, one million job losses were reported across European Union member states (Zsiros,
2020). Economic projections suggest that unemployment across the European Union is expected
to rise to 9% in 2020. Among member states, Greece and Spain are expected to experience the
highest unemployment rates (19.90% and 18.90%, respectively), whereas Germany is expected
to experience the lowest unemployment rate (4%). To address such concerns, the European
Central Bank announced over €870 billion in economic stimulus programs, an amount equivalent
to 7.3% of the Eurozone GDP (Lagarde, 2020). In Germany, economic projections suggest that
as many as three million people’s employment could be displaced as a result of this crisis (Escrit,
2020), while nearly 500 thousand employers have applied for government subsidized Kurzarbeit
or "short-time work" funds to cover losses of income associated with reduced working hours
(Schmitz, 2020). Asia has been particularly affected as well; for example, China’s exports have
dropped drastically since the virus’ inception (Wong, 2020). Moreover, a United Nations report
suggests that as many as 400 million workers in India, an economy that is highly dependent on
informal work arrangements, will be displaced by the pandemic crisis (Thomas, 2020). Broader
but related system challenges have also been noted (e.g., lack of medical resources and supplies;
Jacobs, Richtel, & Baker, 2020), and speculated about (e.g., hindrances to food supply chains;
Splitter, 2020).
Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic crisis presents a number of tangible challenges,
including imposing various psychological consequences upon individuals (see Van Bavel et al.,
2020). Such challenges have particular bearing on our understanding of various work-related
processes. For example, people are experiencing increased work and family demands, especially
as they navigate the need to re-balance multiple roles across work with personal lives. For many,
mass work from home policies have already blurred this distinction. Various external demands
are likewise increasing, for example, experiencing increased uncertainty, particularly around job
security, and financial difficulties. Consistently, a recent study conducted in New Zealand found
that a nationwide lockdown resulted in higher rates of mental distress (Sibley et al., 2020).
Workers may likewise face paradoxes in how their work is organized, such as experiencing
increased workloads in some respects, while simultaneously managing the experience of
boredom and idle time, and perhaps low workloads in others. At the same time that such
demands and challenges are emerging, this crisis also presents a number of opportunities,
especially considering various resources that can be afforded by work organizations to support
employees now, and possibly into the future. For example, these opportunities may include
potentials for increased social and organizational support from leadership, digitization of work
processes, implementation of more effective teamwork, and changes to policies around health
Industrial and organizational (IO) psychology is uniquely positioned to provide guidance
about how COVID-19 and potential future pandemics will likely impact upon work and people
in organizations, by providing evidence-based advice for navigating the challenges and
opportunities of such crises. Such guidance comes in the form of both research and practical
implications. In this focal article, we discuss 10 of the most relevant areas of research and
practice that are likely to be impacted by COVID-19 and potential future pandemics: These 10
topics include: 1. Occupational health and safety, 2. Work-family issues, 3. Telecommuting, 4.
Virtual teamwork, 5. Job insecurity, 6. Precarious work, 7. Leadership, 8. Human resources
policy, 9. The aging workforce, and 10. Careers.
We chose to focus on these 10 areas for two reasons: First, over the past two months,
each of these areas has been variously implicated as “central” to the impacts that the COVID-19
pandemic has had and will continue to have on work-related processes. For example, we have
already seen evidence for each of these areas discussed in the media surrounding the influence of
this pandemic crisis on work. To give a sense of this, Table 1 provides a summary of these 10
areas, examples of the various “sub-topics” that are subsumed within each, and also highlights
prototypical media headlines that embody how the COVID-19 pandemic has been impacted by
or is impacting work-related processes in each area.
Second, both challenges and opportunities surrounding these 10 areas are likely to have
long-term effects on how work is understood, carried out, and organized. Given their centrality
to a wide variety of work-related processes, these are also the areas that are likely to be impacted
in the case of future pandemic crises, and that have a specific bearing on both research and
practice in IO psychology. To this end, Table 2 summarizes example research and practice
challenges and opportunities that COVID-19 presents for each area. To be clear, we by no means
consider these 10 areas to be inclusive of all of the various ways in which work has been or will
be impacted by COVID-19, or any future pandemic crisis. However, we see these areas as those
that would be most generally applicable to the study of any pandemic’s influence on work
behavior, broadly defined. We hope that commentaries on this focal article will offer additional
ideas for how work will change and be variously impacted as a result of this and future pandemic
With a clearer sense of the motivation of this article, our attention now turns to a
discussion of these 10 topics. We then conclude with a high-level summary of this discussion,
and a challenge to IO psychologists to address these issues in their research and practice.
1. Occupational Health and Safety
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis is highly relevant for occupational health and safety. In
general, research and practice activities within this field address topics related to the prevention
of health risks at work and to the promotion of employee health, safety, and well-being. The
psychological perspective on occupational health and safety focuses on factors in the work
environment that may limit employee strain reactions, as well as those that may harm (versus
protect) the quality of working life. Harmful factors are usually called “job stressors” or “job
demands,” and protective factors are often summarized under the umbrella term of “job
The ongoing pandemic crisis impacts occupational health and safety in many
respects, although the degree of impact differs largely between occupational groups. For
instance, it is important to differentiate between health care workers, people working in other
jobs highly needed during the crisis, and persons starting to work from home. In addition,
persons who are laid-off or are facing furloughs or reduced working hours are highly impacted
by the pandemic crisis because they are threatened by unemployment and increased job
insecurity (see also Blustein et al., 2020).
Health care workers, particularly those in frontline jobs working with (possibly infected)
patients, face a very high level of job stressors and associated strain symptoms during the crisis
(see Adams & Walls, 2020). Although empirical evidence on the occupational health
consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is still limited (Lai et al., 2020; Zhu et al.,
2020), research on earlier infectious disease outbreaks (e.g., the SARS outbreak in 2002/2003
and the MERS outbreak in 2015) suggests that health care workers’ strain experiences are greatly
impacted by crisis, with nurses and employees working in high-risk environment being
particularly affected (Brooks, Dunn, Amlôt, Rubin, & Greenberg, 2018; Lee, Kang, Cho, Kim, &
Park, 2018).
Working in health care during a pandemic crisis must be seen as a “critical incident” with
a high emotional impact on employees that may exceed their abilities to cope with the ongoing
demands (De Boer et al., 2011; Restubog, Ocampo, & Wang, 2020). Typical job stressors
present during such a crisis include high workloads, hazardous work environments, unclear job
instructions, and ambiguous infection control policies, as well as being blamed for mistakes and
having to handle coworkers’ negative emotions (Tam, Pang, Lam, & Chiu, 2004). Not
surprisingly, fears of being infected are wide-spread and positively associated with feelings of
distress (Wong et al., 2005; Zhu et al., 2020). Lack of adequate protection and low perceived
organizational support are associated with strain symptoms and with concerns for one’s personal
and family health (Maunder et al., 2006; Nickell et al., 2004). Moreover, daily work becomes
particularly tense when the allocation of treatment resources becomes constrained because not
enough resources are available for the number of patients who would need them (Wright, Meyer,
Reay, & Staggs, 2020).
Working under highly stressful and unsafe conditions during a pandemic crisis may not
only have immediate negative impacts on health care workers’ mental health and well-being, but
may develop into longer-term impairments as well, including post-traumatic stress symptoms
(Maunder et al., 2006; McAlonan et al., 2007).
Although a pandemic crisis puts a particularly heavy burden on the health care sector,
health and safety issues are affected in many other jobs as well. Jobs in businesses that continue
to provide service to the public (e.g., grocery clerks, drivers, distribution center employees, and
employees working in the food-delivery business), as well as managerial and administrative staff
in public and private organizations that need to adjust their operations to the ongoing crisis are
also facing highly stressful times. Although employees working in these types of jobs during the
crisis have not yet received much research attention, one can assume that they are experiencing a
high workload, increased infection risk, and high job ambiguity.
Overall, employees working from home during a pandemic crisis seem to be better off
because often they do not face increased infection risks and because they have a high discretion
about how and when to do their work. Employees who do not usually work from home, however,
may lack the adequate space, equipment, and materials to do their work in this unusual setting.
Moreover, they may find it difficult to structure their workdays. Because working from home
often implies a higher level of autonomy, strain symptoms such as exhaustion may be lower, but
social isolation may increase and coworker relationship quality may suffer (Allen, Golden, &
Shockley, 2015; see also the section on telecommuting).
Although some knowledge exists about how a pandemic crisis may impact occupational
health and safety (Brooks et al., 2018), more research in this area is needed. It will be important
to examine job stress as well as health and safety issues not only in the health-care sector but also
in other businesses and industries that face particularly stressful conditions during the pandemic
crisis (e.g., grocery stores, transportation and logistics firms).
First, research on employee health and safety during a pandemic crisis should not only
examine the factors that make work stressful, but should also address resources that may help to
alleviate the negative effect of the high-stress situation. For instance, researchers may build on a
general model such as the job-demands-resources model (Bakker, Demerouti, & Sanz-Vergel,
2014) and may want to examine both organizational factors such as safety climate and good
organizational communication strategies (Moore et al., 2005) as well as individual prerequisites
such as adequate levels of training and the availability of specific coping strategies (Maunder et
al., 2006; Wong et al., 2005). Research done in extreme work environments such as the military
or bushfire brigades might contribute to a better understanding of the strategies that are important
for coping with extremely stressful situations (Nassif, Start, Toblin, & Adler, 2019). Moreover,
from a practical perspective, it is highly important to examine which interventions can be used to
reduce post-traumatic symptoms in employees who have been exposed to traumatic situations
during the pandemic crisis. Again, approaches used in other extreme environments could provide
useful insights (Adler, Bliese, McGurk, Hoge, & Castro, 2011).
Second, working during a pandemic crisis is associated with high strain levels,
particularly in employees in the health-care sector and other frontline workers. These high strain
levels are not only unfortunate, but may impair daily functioning at work (Bakker & Costa,
2014), which might lead to inefficiencies and risky behaviors. For instance, research has shown
that hand hygiene in hospitals gets neglected during long shifts and when the time between shifts
is short (Dai, Milkman, Hofmann, & Staats, 2015). Therefore, it is important that research
identifies factors that help employees function well – even when experiencing high strain levels.
Third, when studying occupational health and safety, the dynamic nature of the pandemic
crisis has to be taken into account. Most probably, stress experiences differ largely between
preparatory and high-crisis states. Accordingly, reductions of stressors (e.g., high workload)
might not be feasible during high-crisis states and resources might change their effectiveness as
the severity of the situation increases. From a research perspective, the timing of measurements
needs a lot of attention. At the same time, the dynamic characteristics of a pandemic crisis offers
the opportunity to study temporal aspects of job stress at a more detailed level than can be done
in most other settings (Sonnentag, Pundt, & Albrecht, 2014). Empirical studies additionally
could take into account objective crisis indicators in specific regions at specific points of time
(e.g., number of infectious cases, administrative regulations at the country or regional level) and
relate these objective crisis indicators to strain indicators (e.g., anxiety, fatigue).
Fourth, researchers should strive to implement strong research designs, such as
longitudinal data collection and approaches that help to overcome the endogeneity problem
(Bliese, Schepker, Essman, & Ployhart, 2020). Until now, most occupational-health research on
infectious disease outbreaks is cross-sectional in nature and uses exclusively self-report
measures. On the one hand, such a research strategy is understandable because data collection
has to be started quickly – often with very limited financial resources, on the other hand, such
designs allow only very limited insight into causal processes. Accordingly, researchers should try
to implement more powerful research designs. One possibility would be to use ongoing
longitudinal data-collection efforts that have been started before the disease outbreak and to
incorporate additional measurement waves that address the emerging crisis situation. Moreover,
it has to be taken into account that research participation might be difficult for people working in
a crisis mode. Here, innovative approaches are needed, for example, one might think of
collecting extremely short yet validated measures, or of integrating data collection into
intervention approaches that aim at improving coping support.
In terms of practical recommendations, Brooks et al. (2018) summarized important
implications resulting from research evidence gathered during the SARS crisis. These
implications include the provision of adequate training about infection control, building team
cohesion and social support, enhancing communication strategies, preparation for negative
experiences, and the development of adequate coping strategies. Thus, self-care, team care, and
increased awareness about the need to be resilient is particularly important (Adler et al., 2017;
Cleary, Kornhaber, Thapa, West, & Visentin, 2018).
2. Work-Family Issues
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has influenced the work-family interface in a variety of
ways, as many recent popular press articles have highlighted (e.g., Friedman & Westring, 2020;
Petersen, 2020). The majority of attention has focused on the topic of work-family conflict,
defined as interrole conflict in which the demands of work and family are incompatible in some
way (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985). Unfortunately, little is known about work and family
dynamics specifically during crisis situations (Eby, Mitchell, & Zimmerman, 2016).
Despite the lack of research in this area, there are several reasons to expect elevated
levels of work-family conflict during this pandemic crisis; particularly time-based conflict, when
time spent in one domain hinders performance in another, and strain-based conflict, when strains
(e.g., tension, anxiety) experienced in one domain negatively impact performance in another
domain (Carlson, Kacmar, & Williams, 2000). With many schools and childcare facilities closed,
parents are faced with additional responsibilities caring for and/or homeschooling children
during the workday. Time-based conflict is therefore likely to increase because many individuals
are spending their traditional “work hours” on paid work while simultaneously caring for
children. Strain-based conflict is also likely to be elevated during COVID-19 because individuals
are experiencing heightened psychological distress and anxiety in general, coupled with
increased anxiety and stress about meeting the unique demands posed by work and family.
Researchers could also explore additional types of work-family conflict that may be
particularly relevant during this time. Energy-based conflict, defined as when physical
exhaustion experienced in one role reduces performance in another role (Greenhaus, Allen, &
Spector, 2006), may be much higher than typical for health care workers working in overflowing
emergency rooms or for overextended working parents caring for young children. Cognitive-
based conflict involves reduced performance due to preoccupation with another role (Ezzedeen
& Swiercz, 2007), and may be elevated during this time as individuals worry about the impact of
the pandemic crisis on their families. Experience sampling and qualitative studies could be
implemented to examine specific episodes of work-family conflict (Shockley & Allen, 2015),
which can provide a more complete picture of how the pandemic crisis is impacting individuals’
day-to-day lives.
Individuals’ work-family challenges will depend on their unique situation (Agars &
French, 2016). During the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, scholars are encouraged to recruit non-
traditional samples to better understand the struggles of underrepresented populations in work-
family research. For instance, low income workers are more likely to hold jobs where working
from home is not an option (as well as other front-line workers, such as health care workers). As
a result, these workers face additional stressors such as how to ensure their own and family
members health and well-being given their increased exposure to the virus. Single parents, who
already report higher levels of work-family conflict than married parents in general (Byron,
2005), now face even more daunting challenges managing work and family responsibilities
during a pandemic crisis. Social capital—support from friends, family, or neighbors—has been
identified as a critical resource for single parents (Freistadt & Strohschein, 2013). Unfortunately,
this resource may no longer be available to single parents because of physical distancing
guidelines. These are just a few of the unique challenges facing underrepresented populations
that deserve further study.
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis is a significant life event that has the potential to
fundamentally shift a couple’s work-family dynamics. In what Lewis (2020) calls “a disaster for
feminism,” some scholars predict couples will shift towards more traditional gender roles as a
result of the pandemic crisis. Indeed, time use data collected from dual-earner couples has
revealed such a shift, with gender disparities in men’s and women’s total workload emerging
only after couples transitioned to parenthood (Yavorsky, Kamp Dush, & Schoppe-Sullivan,
2015). Importantly, self-reported time spent on these activities did not reveal any significant
differences, suggesting gender inequalities in shifting workloads may not even be apparent to
individuals. In light of these findings, organizational scholars should consider alternative
methodologies such as time use data to complement self-reports of work-family dynamics during
the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
There are several practical implications of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis for the work-
family interface. At a national level, the COVID-19 pandemic crisis has exposed stark cross-
cultural differences in paid family leave policies (see also Guan, Deng, & Zhou, 2020). For
example, the United States is the only industrialized nation with no federal paid family leave
policy. During this pandemic crisis, many workers (and, disproportionately, low income
workers) are completely reliant on their employer to offer paid leave in the event that they or a
family member fall ill due to the virus (n.b., even with the passage of the Families First
Coronavirus Response Act, millions of workers in the United States are still not eligible for paid
leave). Cross-cultural analyses of the impact of paid leave on family adaptation through the
pandemic crisis can be used to advocate for additional policies to protect workers. Organizations
can help reduce employees’ work-family conflict through fostering family-friendly culture norms
and attitudes that are broad in scope (French, Dumani, Allen, & Shockley, 2018). Supervisors
can advocate for additional tangible resources that can be used by employees to directly to
mitigate stressors and strains (i.e., instrumental support). Both informal and formal forms of
support may be particularly beneficial during this pandemic crisis, as research indicates supports
are most beneficial when employees’ needs are high. Finally, organizational and supervisor
support interact with each other in that supervisor support is most effective when employees
perceive their organization fosters a family-friendly culture (French & Shockley, 2020).
The COVID-19 outbreak may also provide the opportunity to examine how the crisis
situation may result in positive work-family outcomes. The resilience literature has shown it is
possible for individuals to return to and sometimes exceed baseline levels of functioning post-
crisis (Masten, 2001). Individuals may learn new strategies for managing their work and family
stressors, which they can maintain after the pandemic crisis is over. Couples may have a
newfound understanding of each other’s work and family demands and may have learned new
ways of effectively communicating with each other. If the couple is able to successfully navigate
this pandemic crisis together, their marriage may come out stronger on the other end. For
example, research on military families has shown that when families are able to “make meaning”
of a deployment, they demonstrate improved capacity to deal with future challenges and greater
family cohesion (MacDermid Wadsworth, 2010; Riggs & Riggs, 2011). Supervisors and key
organizational decision-makers may now have a more comprehensive understanding of the
challenges of working parents, which can hopefully result in improved family-friendly policies.
Finally, the increased time spent with children provide unique opportunities for greater
involvement of children in family activities and foster improved emotional connections between
parents and children that may improve long-term family functioning.
3. Telecommuting
Telecommuting (also known as telework, flexplace, and remote work) is an alternative
work arrangement where workers substitute at least some portion of their typical work hours to
work away from a central workplace -- often from home -- using technology to interact with
others and to complete work tasks (Allen, Golden, & Shockley, 2015; Gajendran & Harrison,
2007). Telecommuting began gaining traction in the U.S. in the 1970s (Avery & Zabel, 2001)
and about 16% of the workforce in the U.S. worked remotely in 2018 (BLS, 2019). If 2020
statistics were compared to previous years we would see yet another COVID-19-related
exponential curve. Exact figures are difficult to estimate at this point, but it seems that
telecommuting is now almost ubiquitously being used as a means of physical distancing for jobs
amenable to remote work. Thus, understanding evidence-based best practices for telecommuting
has never been more relevant as it is during this pandemic crisis (see also Cho, 2020; Kramer &
Kramer, 2020).
There is a substantial body of existing, interdisciplinary literature aimed at understanding
the link between telecommuting and individual and organizational outcomes. The bulk of this
work is cross-sectional and compares remote workers to standard arrangement workers,
generally highlighting the basic association between work arrangement status and outcomes such
as productivity or job satisfaction (e.g. Allen et al., 2015; Gajendran & Harrison, 2007;
Shockley, 2014). Meta-analytic findings generally suggest null or small differences between
telecommuters and standard workers. Differences are typically favorable for the telecommuters,
as they show slightly higher job satisfaction, supervisor- or objectively-rated performance, and
lower turnover intentions and role stress.
Despite this knowledge, the literature still lacks a more fine-grained view of how
contextual factors that vary within different remote work arrangements relate to key outcomes.
Examples of contextual factors include variables such as task interdependence, frequency and
nature of communication, team cohesion, supervisor behaviors, knowledge sharing, and trust
perceptions. Given that so many employees are working remotely during COVID-19 under such
different working conditions in a variety of industries, the time is ripe to study these issues.
Doing so will allow us to offer more evidence-based best practices to telecommuters and
organizational stakeholders. However, it may be difficult for researchers to design and
implement studies during this (hopefully) short time span, but retrospective reports could also be
quite useful, especially if drawing from objective organizational data (e.g., productivity records;
communication records, etc.). Moreover, any attempts to draw conclusions about productivity at
this time should certainly take into account family structure variables, given the closings of
schools and daycares.
Beyond studying telecommuting arrangements during this pandemic crisis, researchers
should consider the longer-term impact that a forced large remote work force will have on future
organizational perceptions regarding telecommuting. One of the main barriers that employees
cite to working remotely is an organizational culture that does not support it (e.g., Batt &
Valcour, 2003; Brewer, 2000). This is especially true when organizations have a high face-time
versus results-oriented culture and reward people for physical presence at work (Shockley &
Allen, 2010). Speculatively, being forced into remote work arrangements may change the way
executives view remote work and can serve as the needed “culture shock” to facilitate long-term
cultural changes about remote work. Researchers should examine the impact of these cultural
changes on post-COVID telecommuter effectiveness and well-being.
Moreover, the intersection of work-family issues and telecommuting has been
highlighted during the pandemic crisis. One particularly salient area concerns boundary
management preferences, which refer to people’s preferences regarding how they manage
multiple life roles. Some people like to keep roles very segmented, not thinking about one role
while in the other, whereas others do better when roles blend together and are integrated
throughout the day (Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate, 2000). One known challenge of telecommuting
is that it makes segmentation of work and family roles difficult, as both are taking place in the
same location (Kossek, Lautsch, & Eaton, 2006). For those with strong segmentation
preferences, forced telecommuting is likely to create challenges in terms of increased role
blurring and likewise perceptions of work-family conflict and difficulty detaching from work. As
such, research focused on practical strategies to help remote workers preserve role segmentation
would be quite useful. Some suggestions that exist in the literature and popular press include
having a separate office with a door, coming up with an alternative “commute strategy” such as
walking around the block to mentally separate the day, and getting fully ready for the day as you
would if going into work. However, the extent to which these have actually been empirically
tested varies, and it would be useful to have empirical information on the efficacy of these ideas.
Lastly, from a practical standpoint, one of the first best practice recommendations given
to new telecommuters is to make sure that telecommuting is not used as a form of childcare.
Indeed, some organizations require telecommuters with children to sign a formal contract stating
that they have alternative childcare arrangements. Clearly, COVID-19 has turned this idea on its
head, with the closing of schools and other childcare facilities. There is no research, to our
knowledge, on how employees can manage this situation. Although clearly pandemic crises are
unusual circumstances, occasional working from home with childcare needs happens to most
parents at some point due to frequent child illness. Research, perhaps starting with qualitative
reports of parent’s “triumph” and “tribulation” stories during this time, could pave the way for a
better understanding of the best practices for short term handling of family responsibilities while
working remotely in the future. Additionally, tying in with ideas in the work-life balance section,
research aimed at helping employees cope with this struggle would be useful. Specifically,
during this trying period many parents are not going to live up to their ideal performance in their
parent and/or work roles. Strategies such as practicing self-compassion toward work and family
roles on a daily basis are beginning to gain research traction (e.g., Nicklin, Seguin, & Flaherty,
2019), and COVID-19 has made individual coping strategies even more relevant.
4. Virtual Teamwork
The term “virtual teamwork,” a closely related concept to telecommuting, describes
collaboration in (usually occupational) teams mediated by electronic tools and communication
technologies (e.g., Hertel, Geister, & Konradt, 2005; Maynard, Gilson, Jones Young, &
Vartiainen, 2017). Although initially introduced as categorical concepts, virtuality is better
considered as a dimension on which teams can vary, from face-to-face (low virtuality) to fully
mediated (high virtuality, e.g., procurement teams with members working from different
countries and time zones using online project management tools exclusively, such as web-
conferencing, cloud platforms for file sharing, and documentation of work progress). Given the
wide-spread use of electronic communication media today, most occupational teams are working
with some degree of virtuality (e.g. Landers, 2019; Raghuram, Hill, Gibbs, & Maruping, 2019).
Nevertheless, the level of virtuality has been shown to matter for team effectiveness and related
processes, such as leadership, trust, well-being, and social exchange (e.g., Breuer, Hüffmeier, &
Hertel, 2016; Hoch & Kozlowski, 2014; Maynard et al., 2017). Notably, the construct of
“virtuality” is complex and covers different dimensions, such as the degree of electronic
mediation, synchronicity of communication, or geographic dispersion (e.g., Kirkman & Mathieu,
2005). To understand virtuality effects, one has to consider these facets because they refer to
partly different (psychological) processes in teams (see Hertel et al., 2017 for a theoretical
In general, virtual teamwork provides a number of benefits, including (but not confined
to) an expanded expertise when team staffing is based on competencies instead of spatial co-
presence, high flexibility and empowerment of team members, rapid work processes due to the
use of different time zones (i.e., “work around the clock”), close connections to suppliers or
customers, reduced expenses for traveling and office space, as well as support for regions with
low infrastructure, integration of persons with low mobility, and reduction of commuting traffic
and air pollution. At the same time, however, virtual teamwork also comes with certain risks,
such as (perceived) social isolation, higher need for trust and more conflict potential, less control
for team leaders, or slow feedback about team processes. Moreover, virtual teamwork is often
associated with technological difficulties, causing extra time and daily hassles, higher self-
organizing demands, and additional interference with private life (e.g., unplanned phone calls in
the evening hours). As a consequence, virtual teamwork is not always attractive for workers, and
companies have been hesitant to introduce virtual collaboration, and likewise reticent to train
team leaders and members in using technology appropriately.
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis is changing this situation. Virtual teamwork is receiving
increased attention because it provides excellent solutions for physical (not social) distancing at
work, the dominant strategy in most countries to flatten the infection curve and avoid
breakdowns of public health systems. Indeed, whereas virtual teamwork has been blamed for
leading to feelings of isolation and a lack of “team spirit” in the past, virtual collaboration in
times of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis provides multiple ways to continue collaboration in a
safe environment and offers additional opportunities to stay socially connected and to maintain a
high team spirit despite spatial dispersion. This is facilitated by using regular video conferences
with the whole team (e.g., morning briefings, virtual coffee breaks), continuous communication
between individual team members (e.g., online chats), and constant updates on work progress
(e.g., as part of advanced groupware tools). Interestingly, such additional tools might lead to
even better processes in virtual as compared to face-to-face teams, for instance, because team
meetings are better structured, and team members receive more reliable information about the
feeling states of the other members using online feedback tools (e.g., Geister, Konradt, & Hertel,
Moreover, with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, requests for (rapid) introduction and
training of virtual teamwork has increased not only in “classic” work fields, such as research,
sales, or procurement teams in larger organizations, but also in fields where computer-mediated
collaboration is less established, for instance among school teachers, medical teams, mechanics,
or in public administration. As a consequence, hands-on and easy-to use guidelines and support
is urgently needed to manage these rapid shifts. Furthermore, being forced to switch to virtual
teamwork – hopefully – also leads to some positive experiences and improved work processes
(e.g., better prepared team meetings) that workers and organizations might want to maintain after
the COVID-19 pandemic crisis (e.g., if only to be better prepared for a potential future pandemic
crisis). Therefore, organizations and team leaders might want to prepare to collect lessons
learned from the current changes for later implementation and maintenance.
In order to support these activities, more research is warranted to address the specific
demands of virtual teamwork in a pandemic crisis. Particularly, there is a need more use(r)-
inspired research, considering specific demands and difficulties in the current situation, for
instance, by using a critical incidents approach (see Breuer, Hüffmeier, Hibben, & Hertel, 2019)
rather than merely reacting to the technological development of new “tools.” This research
should particularly consider demands and needs when teams have to switch to virtual
collaboration rapidly. Moreover, more differentiated approaches are needed, considering the
dimensions of virtuality (synchronicity, geographical dispersion, mediated communication, etc.)
separately in order to connect them with psychological processes (Hertel et al., 2017). In the
context of a pandemic crisis, virtuality aspects are particularly relevant that allow physical
distance, but at the same time increase feelings of social connectedness, such as synchronous
communication with visual information that also transmit nonverbal cues for trust maintenance
and mutual support.
In addition to advanced video-conferencing tools, virtual reality techniques might provide
interesting opportunities to further increase the experience of connection, as well as perceived
environmental control (e.g., Bailenson, 2018; Guegan, Nelson, & Lubart, 2017). In general, more
research is desirable on social bonding in teams and on coping with fatigue and self-motivation
problems, considering the higher needs for social support, feelings of security, as well as
structure and leadership in a pandemic crisis. Examples in this respect are gamification
techniques (e.g., Suh, Cheung, Ahuja, & Wagner, 2017) or stressing indispensability of the
individual member for the team (e.g., Hertel, Konradt, & Orlikowski, 2004; Hertel, Nohe,
Wessolowski, Meltz, Pape, Fink, & Hüffmeier, 2018). Moreover, information systems (e.g.,
automated documentation of task progress, simulations of different outcome opportunities) might
further support virtual teams. In addition to the technical development, however, user experience
and trust in such information systems are key for a successful and rapid integration (e.g., Glikson
& Woolley, 2020; Thielsch, Meeßen, & Hertel, 2018), with concrete implication for a user-
centric design. Finally, although virtual teamwork decreases infection risks in a pandemic crisis,
it does increase the demands of specific resources such as the availability and support of suitable
technologies, but also bandwidth and electricity demands, which might be scarce in a pandemic
crisis. Therefore, we also need a better understanding of efficient usage of electronic
collaboration media in a crisis situation for far-sighted planning and education programs.
While research is still needed, specific recommendations for practitioners are possible
based on what is already known (e.g., O’Duinn, 2018; Maynard et al., 2017). First of all, if
virtual teamwork is perceived as a desirable solution, organizations need to increase efforts to
digitize their work processes, not only investing in appropriate hardware and software solutions
but also adapting their work routines and providing appropriate training and ongoing support for
virtual teams. Digitization of work has been a permanent and quite visible topic in Human
Resource outlets for a while now, however, many (particularly small and mid-size) organizations
have not yet reached the full potential, probably due to anticipated implementation costs and
hassles mentioned earlier.
The current pandemic crisis, although coming with many humanitarian and economic
costs, might be used as an opportunity to mobilize management as well as Human Resource
departments and general staff to develop new forms of virtual teamwork, not only for the crisis
situation but also beyond. Lessons learned from the current situation might be an excellent
starting point for a general digitization strategy, such as successful leadership concepts for virtual
teamwork, design of and resources for groupware solutions, or technological infrastructure.
Moreover, team leaders and members need to be trained in media usage competencies in addition
to technology competence, for example, how to conduct an efficient and positively experienced
web-conference with larger teams, how to provide online feedback constructively, how to detect
and manage conflicts in time, or how to develop and maintain trust and feelings of connectedness
across physical distance. In addition, open exchange and knowledge management within but – if
possible – also across companies and even businesses (e.g., what can telemedicine learn from
sales or procurement teams) might be a promising avenue for innovation and learning. Virtual
collaboration might help sharing (and finding) best practices for specific issues (e.g., virtual
meeting rules), but can also help to develop new ideas to support (purposeful) work, which in
turn can help in maintaining a healthy sense of agency and control for employees. Finally, the
current crisis is also an opportunity to rethink what “really matters” in existing teams and for
ongoing projects. In addition to emphasizing mutual support and maintaining high levels of team
spirit, the purpose and impact of the teamwork for the organization and beyond should be
stressed, reflected, and perhaps revised (McGregor & Doshi, 2020).
In addition to such opportunities, a few risks should be mentioned as well. Although
organizations ought to be open minded for new technologies to support their teams, they should
not try to adopt each and every new trend. Instead, organizations are well advised to concentrate
on the specific demands and needs of their teams as main criteria. Indeed, these demands can be
quite different for various teams and organizations, for instance, due to different tasks, training
backgrounds, or collaboration cultures. Therefore, empirical analyses of demands would be most
desirable. Moreover, security and data protection issues have to be considered, particularly when
people work from home with Internet connections that have lower security standards. Finally,
environmental issues have to be considered. Whereas telecommuting and virtual teamwork help
to reduce commuting and business travel costs (including air pollution), the higher electricity
demands of communication media with high bandwidth (e.g., video-conferencing, team meetings
with Virtual Reality applications) require reflected and responsible usage, particularly in times of
rapid changes when the infrastructure (e.g., server parks) still has to be adapted. Thus, team
leaders and members need also to be educated about the environmental consequences of media
applications in addition to the social and health implications.
5. Job Insecurity
With the COVID-19 crisis expected to go on for months, many employers have turned to
furloughing or laying off employees to stay afloat. A recent poll found that 33% of Americans
surveyed reported that they or a family member have lost a job as a result of the pandemic crisis
and 51% report that they or a family member have had work hours or pay cut (Langer, 2020). An
even greater percentage of workers indicated they are concerned about potential job loss or cuts
in hours or pay (58%, 53%, respectively), and 92% indicated that they see a recession as at least
somewhat likely.
Clearly, there is a tremendous amount of job insecurity among those still employed. Job
insecurity is defined as “a perceived threat to the continuity and stability of employment as it is
currently experienced” (Shoss, 2017, p. 1914). Quantitative job insecurity captures the potential
loss of one’s job as a whole, whereas qualitative job insecurity concerns the potential loss of
valued job features and a deterioration in working conditions (Hellgren et al., 1999; Vander Elst
et al., 2014). The rise in job insecurity is problematic given that it has been linked to a host of
short- and long-term negative outcomes for individuals, organizations, and communities (De
Witte, 2016; Jiang & Lavaysse, 2018; Shoss, 2017).
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis and associated economic consequences have ushered in
experiences of job insecurity that are, in several key respects, fundamentally different than what
has been described in past research. In particular, job insecurity (more specifically, quantitative
job insecurity) has always implied a permanent separation from the organization. This has been
the case through the recessions of the 1980s and the Great Recession, as well as the widespread
corporate downsizings and restructurings of the 1990s. However, given the unique nature of the
current crisis, employees may expect/hope to return to work for their employer after the crisis.
Thus, job insecurity, in many cases, may not reflect an anticipation of a permanent separation
from the organization. Rather, it may reflect insecurity about a short(er)-term separation. This is
a critical shift from the experiences of job insecurity examined in past research, and therefore, it
raises questions about the applicability of past findings in the current context. Moreover, it
suggests that research on job insecurity needs to be expanded to incorporate and compare
different types of job insecurity experiences, and to examine how events surrounding insecurity
(e.g., organizational communication) shape employees’ willingness to return to the employer and
their behaviors/attitudes/cognitions upon return.
The crisis has also led to inherently different experiences of qualitative job insecurity.
Medical professionals and first responders are experiencing considerable uncertainty about the
future intensification of their work experiences and the sacrifices that will be required of them
and their families as this crisis unfolds. Researchers would do well to examine these cases of
qualitative job insecurity (perhaps an appropriate term would be intensification qualitative
insecurity), to compare intensification qualitative job insecurity to more deprivation-focused
experiences of qualitative job insecurity, and to examine the impact of intensification qualitative
job insecurity on individuals, families, and workplaces in the short- and long-terms.
At the same time as these changes in the meaning and experience of job insecurity
suggest new research that needs to be conducted, they also suggest several new directions and
recommendations for practice (which should also be researched). First, people may view long-
term quantitative job security as an (not ideal, but) acceptable substitute for short-term
quantitative or deprivation-based qualitative job insecurity. For example, in anecdotal
discussions with employees in a health care company that reduced work hours and pay due to the
crisis, employees indicated that they would be willing to accept some uncertainty surrounding
their job conditions as long as they know that they will have a job to which to return.
Organizations may benefit from bolstering perceptions of long-term job security, even if they are
unable to address short-term concerns.
Second, it is important that organizations operate with transparent and frequent
communication and handle layoff/furlough situations with justice and sincerity. These conditions
have been linked to lowered job insecurity and more positive responses from layoff victims and
survivors (Jiang & Lavaysse, 2018; Richter et al., 2016; Skarlicki et al., 2008). Managing these
situations with a goal of reducing uncertainty and supporting well-being may help ensure that
employees return and do so with positive views of the organization. This crisis, while gravely
unfortunate, may represent an opportunity for organizations to demonstrate support for their
employees that may pay dividends when this crisis passes.
Third, it may be beneficial for organizations to provide employees with a means by
which to feel that they will remain part of the organization’s social fabric regardless of
temporary furlough/layoff status (e.g., an employee Facebook group to share resources and
support, shared opportunities for training). One of the reasons that job insecurity is thought to be
so impactful is because it frustrates basic psychological needs (Vander Elst et al., 2012). Jobs
provide identity, esteem, social connection, meaning, skill development, and so forth (Hulin,
2002). To the extent to which employers can enable employees to maintain these
psychologically-enriching experiences regardless of temporary job loss, they may help
employees to cope with potential or actual loss and enable a more positive transition back to
Finally, if it all possible, organizations and governments should help employees manage
economic uncertainty. Research suggests that economic uncertainty exacerbates negative
reactions to job insecurity (Shoss, 2017). Many employers (e.g., Darden restaurants, Starbucks)
have adopted or expanded paid sick leave policies (Jiang, 2020). Not only could this help
mitigate workers’ angst that they either go to work sick or lose their jobs or income, but it could
also help mitigate virus spread (Bhattarai & Whoriskey, 2020; Stockton et al., 2020). Several
employers have chosen to continue to pay employees despite closures (e.g., Apple; Disney) and
others have continued to pay furloughed/laid-off employees’ health insurance in order to help
employees manage the transition and reduce stress during this turbulent time. For those dealing
with uncertainty related to intensification, organizational efforts to protect workers, support their
families, and accommodate special needs may help assuage some of the negative impacts of this
uncertainty. As billionaire Mark Cuban was recently credited with saying (Stankiewicz 2020),
“how companies treat workers during [this] pandemic could define their brand ‘for decades’.”
6. Precarious Work
The COVID-19 crisis presents an opportunity to examine the quality and structure of
work in the current labor market, particularly its implications for precarious work (see also
Kantamneni, 2020). Precarious work broadly refers to work that is risky, uncertain, and
unpredictable for workers (Kalleberg, 2009). Scholars have operationalized precarious work in
different ways, mostly describing how the structure and quality of work is transforming in the
modern labor market. For example, nonstandard, atypical, contingent, and alternative work
arrangements all describe jobs that differ from full-time, permanent employment. Building off
this work, scholars have defined precarious work more specifically as work that is unstable or
short-term, lacks collective bargaining rights, provides low or unreliable wages, has few rights
and protections, and does not grant workers power to exercise rights and freedoms (e.g., Benach
et al., 2014). In this way, precarious work combines uncertainty in the amount and continuity of
work with limited autonomy and access to power.
Across the globe, multiple forces are converging to make precarious work more prevalent
(ILO, 2020). For example, since the 1980s, globalization and other factors have led to intense
global competition and a subsequent reorganization of corporations to employ a smaller number
of full-time, permanent workers and a greater number of part-time, temporary workers (Hall,
2004; Katz & Krueger, 2019). In the United States, the percentage of workers in alternative work
arrangements has increased 50% from 2000 to 2015, totaling 15% of the workforce (Katz &
Krueger, 2019); these estimates are higher in other North American countries (i.e., Canada), in
countries across Europe, and in Japan (see Cappelli & Keller 2013). Estimates that include
people in involuntary part-time work suggest that 20% of U.S. workers have alternative work
arrangements (BLS, 2018), and millions of Americans earn poverty wages (Smith, 2015).
Moreover, precarious work is inequitably distributed, with marginalized populations being more
likely to hold underpaid, insecure, and temporary positions (e.g., Kalleberg & Vallas, 2017). This
presents a significant concern for IO psychologists given precarious work’s negative relation to
poorer job attitudes and mental health and its positive relation to withdrawal intentions and
turnover (e.g., Han et al., 2017).
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has exposed this precarity in the workforce and
exacerbated existing issues with the contemporary structure of work. People in precarious work
are particularly vulnerable to economic disruption and are less able to cope with unemployment
and loss of working hours. For example, workers in precarious jobs, such as gig workers,
temporary staffing agency workers, and hourly workers, are more likely to lose their jobs during
the COVID-19 economic crises (Blustein et al., 2020; JQI, 2020). While many salaried workers
are able to telecommute and continue their jobs, low-wage hourly workers and other precarious
workers are not able to continue working during physical distancing and subsequently lose their
employment. Decades of psychological research has established that unemployment has far
reaching and deleterious results for individuals, including increasing depression and suicidality
(Paul & Moser, 2009). Moreover, the massive increase in unemployment after a short time of
economic disruption highlights the underlying precarity of many workers’ job conditions, which
existed before the current economic instability (Kalleberg, 2009). It also exposes inequity within
the labor market whereby people with relative power and access to resources are more able to
withstand crises.
Relatedly, many people with precarious work do not have access to governmental and
organizational benefits, such as employment and health insurance. These benefits help people
recover from crises as they struggle with finances and health problems. For example, precarious
workers are at risk for chronic stress and dangerous working conditions, leading to higher rates
of mental and physical health issues, such as cardiovascular disease (Benach et al., 2014; Schnall
et al., 2016). These chronic health conditions in turn may increase vulnerability to COVID-19, as
well as mental health concerns resulting from losses of resources and economic uncertainty
(Zhou et al., 2020). In essence, the workers who are most vulnerable to the current crisis are
those who are less able to cope with job loss and illness.
The COVID-19 crisis is an important opportunity to (re)focus IO psychology’s efforts on
addressing precarious work. The issue of precarious work is not new, but the current economic
crisis highlights that large proportions of Americans are working in jobs that do not provide
basic security or a living wage. Diverse fields including economics, sociology, and public health
have studied precarious work and advanced theories in this area, but psychology has contributed
less research to these efforts. However, psychologists have developed a literature base on aspects
of precarious work, such as job insecurity and temporary workers, which can serve as a base for
examining what the COVID-19 crisis reveals about the labor market and how psychologists can
help. For example, the COVID-19 crisis raises important questions about who is vulnerable to
economic crises, what factors exacerbate financial and mental distress, and what helps people
cope with economic uncertainty and turmoil. For example, research suggests that precarious
workers are particularly vulnerable to health and economic consequences of the COVID-19
pandemic crisis (Benach et al., 2014; Schnall et al., 2016), and research is critically needed to
understand the mechanisms involved and how to intervene effectively.
As people, organizations, and governments seek to endure and rebuild after the crisis,
psychologists can play an important role in advocating for precarious workers and providing data
that can inform interventions and relief efforts. Policies in the United States largely reflect the
labor market of the 20th century, and employment insurance benefits are a key example. More
than ever, Americans are working in alternative work arrangements and in the platform economy
(Katz & Krueger, 2019), which cuts them off from traditional employment insurance and other
benefits. While the CARES act stimulus extends benefits to freelancers and independent
contractors, this is a short-term solution to a long-term trend of people working outside the 20th
century model of employment (Hall, 2004). As recovery occurs, psychologists can play a key
role in advocating for governmental and organizational policies that reduce precarious work and
increase social protections. These may include advocating for a living wage, increasing food and
wage assistance, expanding Medicaid, eliminating work requirements, expanding unemployment
benefits, improving the accessibility of job skills training, expanding the earned income and
child tax credits, or prohibiting unemployment discrimination. Psychology has a wealth of data
that can inform such policies (e.g., Smith, 2015) and improve the lives of precarious workers
during and after the COVID-19 crisis.
7. Leadership
According to Microsoft founder Bill Gates, “In any crisis, leaders have two equally
important responsibilities: solve the immediate problem and keep it from happening again”
(Gates, 2020, p. 1677). Government attempts to simultaneously minimize deaths and economic
decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to mentally prepare people for the long and
challenging aftermath of the current crisis and future pandemics, have led to increased feelings
of uncertainty and psychological distress among many employees (Anderson, Heesterbeek,
Klinkenberg, & Hollingsworth, 2020; Sibley et al., 2020). When perceived uncertainty is high,
employees are more likely to turn toward their supervisors and leaders for guidance and support,
and leader behavior has stronger effects on important employee and organizational outcomes
(Waldman, Ramirez, House, & Puranam, 2001). For instance, research conducted during a
merger with high uncertainty has shown that follower-focused leader behavior is positively
associated with follower organizational identification, psychological empowerment, and
engagement (De Sousa & van Dierendonck, 2014). Thus, the pandemic crisis may offer several
opportunities for advancing leadership theory and research and for implementing evidence-based
leadership practices.
Leadership broadly refers to the processes by which a person (i.e., the leader) influences
others (i.e., followers) to achieve common goals (Yukl, 2006). In future leadership research, the
COVID-19 pandemic crisis could be addressed by examining (a) how this context influences
leadership, (b) who emerges as a leader in this context, and (c) what makes leaders effective in
this context. First, scholars could examine whether the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, as a context
factor, leads to changes in leadership behavior in teams, organizations, industries, and countries
over time. Such research could attempt to constructively replicate a recent study based on the
threat-rigidity hypothesis, which showed that the 2008 financial crisis led to an increase in
directive leadership, particularly in the manufacturing sector and in countries with high power
distance (Stoker, Garretsen, & Soudis, 2019). It would be interesting to compare and explain the
engagement in, and preference for, different leadership behaviors before and after COVID-19.
Second, scholars could further investigate who emerges, why, and when as a leader
during this organizational, economic, and political crisis (James, Wooten, & Dushek, 2011).
Research could focus on the role of individual differences for leadership emergence during the
pandemic crisis. For instance, theorizing on the “glass cliff,” which suggests that women are
more likely to be appointed to leadership positions in crises than men because they signal
“change” (Ryan et al., 2016), could be tested in the context of COVID-19. Similarly, studies
could investigate whether older, more experienced leaders (Spisak, 2012) and leaders using more
promotion-oriented communication (Stam, van Knippenberg, Wisse, & Nederveen Pieterse,
2018) are not only preferred during war and organizational crises, but also during the current
pandemic crisis. In addition, research could focus on the dynamic, interactive, and multilevel
nature of leadership emergence during the pandemic crisis, including followers’ individual,
relational, and collective cognitive and perceptual processes regarding leadership (Acton, Foti,
Lord, & Gladfelter, 2019). Observational studies on leadership emergence during the pandemic
crisis could further examine what individuals who emerge as leaders during the crisis actually
“do” (and why and when they do it), including behaviors such as listening as well as task-,
relationship-, and change-oriented communication (Gerpott, Lehmann-Willenbrock, Voelpel, &
Van Vugt, 2019).
Third, scholars could examine the individual and contextual factors and processes that
predict leadership effectiveness during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Previous research in this
area has identified various “leadership competencies” required in distinct crisis phases that could
also be examined in the current crisis. For instance, leaders have been advised to engage in
sense-making and perspective taking in the “signal detection phase,” in issue selling and
creativity in the “prevention and preparation phase,” and in decision making, communication,
and risk taking during the “damage control and containment phase,” before entering the
“recovery phase” and the “learning and reflection phase” (Wooten & James, 2008). Building on
this research, it would be important to theorize on and examine specific leader behaviors that
address the unique demands of the current pandemic crisis. Such research would have to start
with a systematic analysis of the various new task, relational, and cognitive demands faced by
leaders in this crisis. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic crisis urgently calls for examining
research questions on the notion of “digital leadership” (sometimes also called e-leadership or
virtual leadership), as many leaders and their followers are now forced to work remotely from
home (Larson & DeChurch, 2020; see also the sections on virtual teams and telecommuting). In
this context, follower perceptions of leader communication, trust, justice, and granted autonomy
seem particularly relevant.
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis may also require leaders to manage a paradox between
employee health and well-being on the one hand and maintaining or restoring profitability on the
other. Thus, researchers could test whether “paradoxical leadership” is particularly effective in
the current crisis (Zhang, Waldman, Han, & Li, 2015). In addition, social psychologists have
recently offered “identity leadership” as a new and potentially effective form of leadership in the
COVID-19 pandemic crisis, which involves leaders representing and promoting the shared
interests of their followers as well as creating a sense of collective social identity among them
(Haslam, Reicher, & Platow, 2011; Van Bavel et al., 2020). Finally, research on the notion of
“healthy leadership” could explore associations among leaders’ and followers’ health-related
attitudes, values, behaviors, and outcomes during a stressful and uncertain time that places
various novel demands and constraints upon them, both within and outside of the work context
(e.g., job insecurity, work-family conflict; Rudolph, Murphy, & Zacher, 2019).
Importantly, scholars who study leadership with a particular focus on the COVID-19
pandemic crisis should theoretically justify why a leadership construct or process is assumed to
have different (or the same) effects during a specific time period or a country/region that is
strongly influenced by the pandemic crisis, as compared to other (previous or future) time
periods or countries/regions. Moreover, when introducing any new leadership construct, it is
important to demonstrate incremental effects above-and-beyond those of already established
leadership constructs, such as task-, relational-, and change-oriented forms of leader behavior
(DeRue, Nahrgang, Wellman, & Humphrey, 2011). We particularly caution against the
introduction of a novel “COVID-19 pandemic crisis leadership behavior” construct, as it is likely
to have a great deal of conceptual and empirical overlap with existing, well-established
leadership constructs (e.g., initiating structure, consideration, charismatic leadership style; Stam
et al., 2018). Thus, it would not explain a significant amount of additional variance in important
follower and work outcomes (see also Rudolph et al., 2019).
In addition to research opportunities, it is important to discuss evidence-based practical
implications for leadership in the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. First, organizations should select
leaders who possess the relevant knowledge, skills, and personality characteristics to
successfully navigate the unique demands of a crisis, such as the current pandemic (e.g.,
recognition of and dealing with specific threats and opportunities for employees and the
organization; Wooten & James, 2008). Second, as many leaders do not received formal training
to manage crises, it is important to integrate crisis management knowledge and skills into future
leadership development programs and learn from errors made during earlier crises (Day &
Dragoni, 2015).
Third, leaders should be encouraged to take care of both their own and their followers’
health, while maintaining high performance. For instance, research suggests that high levels of
leader presenteeism (i.e., working despite being ill) can spill over and increase employee
presenteeism which, subsequently, leads to higher employee sick leave (Dietz, Zacher, Scheel,
Otto, & Rigotti, 2020). Finally, due to several problematic issues with the notion of
“generations” and “generational differences” (Rudolph, Rauvola, & Zacher, 2018), it is advisable
that leaders do not attempt to manage an assumed “COVID-19 generation” (see Rudolph &
Zacher, 2020), but rather adopt an individual-focused lifespan perspective on their followers’
development, performance, and well-being (see also the section on the aging workforce).
8. Human Resources Policy
The evolving COVID-19 pandemic crisis has put pressure and demands on Human
Resource (HR) departments and managers to quickly adjust their policies and practices. HR
responsibilities in organizations consist of both traditional or operational and strategic tasks
(Wright & Ulrich, 2017). The current crisis requires actions on the operational side of HR
practices, but at the same time also has potential for strategic HR initiatives that might help
organizations get “back to business” as soon as possible after the crisis.
On the operational side of HR management, health and hygiene measures for all
employees are the top priority for most employers right now. As COVID-19 is a virus that
spreads between human beings, physical distancing is key to lower infection rates between
employees and keep operations running. Measures to achieve physical distancing differ between
white-collar or office employees and blue-collar or production employees. White-collar
employees can relatively easily move to home office settings and communicate virtually to
complete their work tasks. HR departments, in cooperation with information technology (IT)
divisions, have to ensure that employees have the right IT equipment and competencies to work
remotely. Short video or blended-learning opportunities, for example, explaining how to host
video conferences and keep up team-based collaborations in virtual settings, might be
particularly helpful for employees who have limited experience with working remotely (see also
the sections on telecommuting and virtual teamwork).
Furthermore, many employees are confronted with childcare obligations due to closed
schools and kindergartens. As a consequence, HR departments have to tailor idiosyncratic deals
(I-deals) for these employees, including negotiating specific time and work arrangements that fit
their current situation (Rousseau, Ho, & Greenberg, 2006). For flexible and telecommuting
arrangements, I-deals have been shown to lower work-family conflict and increase the work
engagement of telecommuting employees (Hornung, Rousseau, Glaser, 2008), as well to
improve contextual work performance (Gajendran, Harrison, Delaney-Klinger, 2015). As a
consequence, HR departments should allow as much leeway as possible in terms of work and
time arrangements for white-collar employees in the current situation (see also Spurk & Straub,
For blue-collar workers, especially those in critical industries that cannot fully shutdown
their capacities, reducing the social density of shifts by moving away from standard eight-hour
shifts for everybody to more flexible arrangements, as well as the separation of employee shifts,
is essential for lowering infection rates. Beyond these immediate measures, organizations,
supported by HR departments, need to develop better hygiene cultures that enable a healthy
workforce, if the COVID-19 situation lasts over months or worst case, even years. Here
companies might benefit from public health research that has a track record of successful
interventions for hygiene procedures (i.e., hand washing) in hospitals. One concrete application
of this are positive deviance (PD) change procedures that have, for example, helped to reduce
hospital-wide infection rates by more than 50% (Lindberg et al. 2009). Concrete practical
applications of such procedures, as defined by Sternin (2003), include setting measurable goals
for the change initiative (e.g., increasing hygienic/physical distancing behaviors of employees),
determining certain groups of employees that already show such behaviors and thus positively
deviate from the norm, and designing processes within the organization such that these positively
deviating practices can be implemented throughout the organization. In particular, for the last
step of this process, HR policies should be adjusted such that they provide communication and
leadership training efforts to support such initiatives. Designing intervention studies to address
how such hygiene-focused HR practices can be successfully implemented should be the top
priority for the HR research community.
Beyond immediate operational measures, the COVID-19 crisis also calls for action from
a strategic HR perspective, defined as the required human resource behaviors that enable the
organization to achieve its goals through maintaining the right human capital resources (Wright
& McMahan, 1992). The current situation entails the risk that companies will experience a
massive loss of talent due to the immediate breakdown of the economy that results in drastically
rising unemployment as currently seen in the United States and beyond (e.g., Europe and Asia,
as mentioned previously). Even though many companies are forced to downsize right now, there
might be a way to execute this reactive downsizing in a commitment-oriented way (Zatzick,
Marks, Iverson, 2009). Following this approach, companies should target downsizing towards
underperforming units while retaining talent in well-performing areas, and at best, avoid
involuntary layoffs. Measures such as temporary shutdowns, state-subsidized short-worker
allowances (i.e., as mentioned previously, and available in many European countries, like
Germany), should be used to soften downsizing procedures. Furthermore, HR managers should
strive for a transparent and fair way of communication about downsizing measures. This is
crucial, as research shows that downsizing procedures can increase later voluntary turnover of
remaining employees (Trevor & Nyberg, 2008), and the resulting costs can be up to $100,000.00
for top executives (Brockner, 2006).
Additionally, companies can also use temporary production lockdowns or increased
telecommuting arrangements to strategically grow the skill sets of their workforce via online
education programs. In this case, if the company has enough slack resources to at least
temporarily retain most of their personnel, intermediate production and service shutdowns might
be used to digitally built skills and competencies that are helpful during the crisis (e.g., health
and safety relevant trainings) and after the disaster (e.g., digital communication and sales skills
in future markets, with fewer travel-activities and in-person sales). As for remote working and
virtual teamwork, the current crisis and resulting lockdowns have the potential to also
disruptively transform the education market towards e-learning and online education that has yet
to be widely used by technological and IT-focused companies (Batalla-Busquets & Martínez-
Argüelles, 2014). Thus, strategically investing in online training and development environments
is one of the HR-related opportunities originating from the current crisis, and empirical HR
research will have to test if it indeed pays off in increasing employee skills and productivity in
the mid- and long-run.
9. The Aging Workforce
The global aging of the workforce is now a well-defined phenomenon; the average age of
workforces across the globe, in both industrialized and emerging economies, is increasing. This
has resulted in an older and more age-diverse workforce than we have ever seen before (See
Rudolph, Marcus, & Zacher, 2018). For example, population projection estimates suggest that
over 30% of the populations of the majority of developed economies will be aged 65+ by 2050
(UNDESA, 2015). Such trends can be explained, in part, by declining birth rates coupled with
medical advances leading to extended healthy lifespans. Economically speaking, maintaining
employment past traditional retirement ages will be all but required to maintain pension systems.
Accordingly, the aging workforce presents both challenges (e.g., maintaining productive work
performance beyond traditional retirement age; supporting a multigenerational workforce) and a
number of opportunities (e.g., harnessing accrued job knowledge) for individuals, organizations,
and economies (Hertel & Zacher, 2018). The global scope of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis
combined with the aging of the workforce and higher morbidity rates among those aged 60+
(e.g., >80% of deaths have occurred among persons aged ≥ 60 years of age; CDC 2020) presents
a particularly unique combination of factors, with implications for both research and practice in
IO psychology.
Although there are many theoretical frameworks that could be adopted to conceptualize
the impact of COVID-19 on the aging workforce, researchers would be wise to adopt a lifespan
developmental perspective (see Baltes, Reese, & Lipsitt, 1980; Rudolph, 2016). The lifespan
developmental perspective is a meta-theoretical framework that views developmental outcomes
as a product of three co-occurring influences, including normative age-graded influences (e.g.,
age-graded changes in cognitive function or emotion regulation capacities), normative history-
graded influences (e.g., economic conditions; pandemic crises), and non-normative/idiosyncratic
influences (e.g., health issues, unemployment). In order to translate these developmental
influences into testable research questions concerning the impact of COVID-19 for the aging
workforce, researchers could consider both differential susceptibility (Belsky & Pluess, 2009)
and differential impact theoretical frameworks (e.g., Ungar, 2017) as compliments to the lifespan
On the one hand, differential susceptibility suggests that certain individual differences
(e.g., age; personality) make individuals more-or-less susceptible to features of their
environments. Differential susceptibility thus focuses attention on individual characteristics that
help explain why some people are more or less vulnerable to environmental influences, and in
particular, changes in environmental factors. Thus, differential susceptibility proposes a person-
by-situation interaction, where chronological age could be construed as a person characteristic.
In adopting a differential susceptibility argument, researchers might ask questions about whether
the consequences of COVID-19 manifest differently for workers of different ages. Researchers
could ask questions about the impact of COVID-19 on any number of topics considered here
(e.g., job insecurity) and whether workers of different ages are differentially susceptible to such
impacts. For instance, in considering how workers of various ages differentially react to their
environments, researchers could ask questions like “Is age a ‘risk factor’ for predicting job
insecurity or unemployment during or following the pandemic crisis?”
On the other hand, differential impact considers how environmental changes serve as risk
factors that “shape” or change individuals, and in particular how various resources (e.g.,
psychological, sociocultural, and economic) serve to mitigate or enhance individuals’ exposure
to such environmental risks. Thus, differential impact considers resource-by-environment
interactions that either directly, indirectly, or conditionally affect workers of different ages (i.e.,
especially one age “group” versus another: e.g., “younger,” “middle-age,” or “older workers”).
In adopting a differential impact argument, researchers might ask questions about whether
workers of different ages are more-or-less at risk of the consequences of COVID-19 (i.e., in
particular to consequent environmental changes, like the implementation of mass work-from-
home policies), and whether various resources may offset or mitigate such risk (e.g.,
psychological resources, like technology literacy; sociocultural resources, like family support).
For example, researchers could ask questions about how environments differentially support
workers of different ages, such as “How are working from home and related HR-policies for
managing work processes during the pandemic crisis differentially impacting workers of
different ages?” Importantly, both differential impact and susceptibility hypotheses could
likewise be pitted against one-another in a strong inference framework (Platt, 1964). In doing so,
researchers should consider age as a moderator (e.g., to index differential reactivity), in addition
to various age-related mediators (e.g., age affecting work outcomes via environmental reactions,
to index differential reactivity; see Bohlmann, Rudolph, & Zacher, 2018).
While informative of research, the lifespan perspective and various research questions
that can be posed from the differential reactivity and differential impact frameworks have
bearing on practice as well. For example, evidence for differential reactivity or differential
impact could variously help with the development of “age management” strategies that are
informed by lessons learned from this pandemic crisis. Generally speaking, the term “age
management” refers to “…various dimensions by which human resources are managed within
organisations with an explicit focus on ageing and, also, more generally, to the overall
management of workforce ageing via public policy or collective bargaining” (Walker, 2005, p.
At the same time, practitioners should exercise caution against the idea of hastily
customizing work policies to people of different ages, especially if such customizations are not
backed by good empirical evidence. For example, already there have been suggestions in the
media that work from home policies are especially beneficial for younger workers (Roose, 2020;
Withane, 2020), yet this remains an open and untested question. Moreover, although
practitioners are encouraged to consider applications of “age management” that are informed by
evidence, they should be cautioned to avoid various pitfalls of “generations management.”
Importantly, the lifespan framework eschews the notion of generational differences (see also
Rudolph & Zacher, 2017; 2020). Given the wide-sweeping global impact of COVID-19, it makes
the most practical sense to consider the impacts of this pandemic crisis for workers of different
ages, rather than to make assumptions about “generation” membership (Rudolph & Zacher,
2020a, 2020b; see also Ayalon, 2020; Ayalon et al., 2020).
Following the advice above, practitioners are especially encouraged understanding how
people of different ages are differentially impacted by, and/or react differently to, environmental
changes resulting from this pandemic crisis. To support an aging workforce, practitioners would
be well served to think about developing interventions to mitigate such impact or reactivity
effects. For example, one area of practice regarding older workers that is very likely to be
impacted by the COVD-19 pandemic crisis concerns retirement plans and patterns. It is likely
that there will be disruptions in such plans and patterns stemming from drops in market value.
Specifically, older workers’ retirement plans are likely to be differentially impacted relative to
younger workers in this way. Applying this advice, organizations could intervene in various
ways to mitigate this impact. For example, organizations could consider various strategies for
helping older workers navigate these precarious financial decisions. The development of phased
retirement schemes and return to work programs (e.g., deliberately re-recruiting retirees as
“bridge employees;see Shultz, 2003) would be particularly helpful in this regard.
10. Careers
A career describes the sequence of a person’s work experiences over their life course
(Hall, 2002). An examination of how the COVID-19 pandemic crisis affects careers thus needs
to focus on how it might affect people’s work in the mid- to long-term (see also Akkermans,
Richardson, & Kraimer, 2020). One of the most salient consequences for a significant number of
employees, is that their employing business has (perhaps only permanently) shut down due to
government restrictions or lack of consumer demand. As suggested above, this has already
resulted in record numbers of people becoming unemployed within a very short period of time
(Casselman et al., 2020). In a best-case scenario, when the virus is quickly controlled, this
unemployment might be temporary, and workers could go back to their employers and the same
jobs after a short period of time (see also the section on job insecurity). However, especially if
the influence of the pandemic crisis persists, many affected companies will go out of business
permanently, potentially causing longer periods of unemployment for their former employees
even after the pandemic crisis is controlled.
Research shows that especially longer and repeated spurs of unemployment can
significantly affect career development and disturb career progression (e.g., Gregg & Tominey,
2005; Schmillen & Umkehrer, 2017). This adverse effect can occur because unemployment
diminishes critical career resources in terms of human capital (e.g., professional skills and
knowledge), social capital (e.g., networks, social support), and psychological resources (e.g.,
hope, self-efficacy), which are critical for objective and subjective career success (Hirschi, 2012;
Spurk et al., 2019). In addition, unemployment might lead to career changes that alter career
trajectories, irrespective of career advancement.
Indeed for many employees, the pandemic crisis will likely act as a career shock -- an
unexpected, distinct, and impactful event that triggers a deliberation about potential career
transitions (Akkermans et al., 2018; Akkermans et al., 2020; Seibert et al., 2013). Hence, apart
from more immediate effects on career development due to unemployment, the pandemic crisis
could also have more intermediate effects on career attitudes. Even for employees not affected
by unemployment, the current situation can create a significant amount of job insecurity (Cox,
2020a,b; see also section on job insecurity). Besides its imminent negative effects on well-being
and performance (Lee Huang, & Ashford, 2018), job insecurity might lead to an active career
engagement, whereby employees start to explore career alternatives, activate their professional
and private networks, or consider re-training in an attempt to increase their marketability (Spurk
et al., 2015). However, experienced job insecurity might also lead to less career risk taking,
because security needs might become more salient. The crisis could also affect adolescents and
students in their career choices. Specifically, the consequences of the pandemic crisis could
negatively affect outcome expectations (Lent & Brown, 2019) regarding some careers (e.g.,
service industry, tourism), in that such careers become less attractive due to their risk of being
significantly negatively affected by potential future pandemic crises. Conversely, careers in
sectors that gain in importance due to the crisis (e.g., health care, digital companies) might
increase in attractiveness.
Despite the potentially profound negative effects on many people’s career development,
the crisis might also have some positive impacts. In some instances, unemployment can lead do a
re-consideration of one’s career choices, an exploration of new career opportunities, and a
voluntary change of occupations and sectors, resulting in improved job quality (Zikic & Klehe,
2006). In addition, the crisis could lead people to a more sustainable approach to career self-
management. Specifically, many might realize that personal health, social connections to family
and friends, and community involvement have been undervalued. This could lead to a more
wholistic, whole-life approach to career development and career choice, where work and
nonwork goals are equally and simultaneously considered in career self-management, resulting
in more satisfying and sustainable careers (Hirschi et al., 2020). In addition, numerous students
and employees are volunteering in health care and community services during the crisis (Ali,
2020). Such volunteering might expose them to new career learning, for example, by discovering
new interests and strengths, building new human, social, and psychological career resources, and
exposing them to new career opportunities that might prove beneficial for their future careers.
An important avenue for research is to examine if and how the crisis affects career experiences
and trajectories. As outlined above, career effects might stem from becoming unemployed, job
changes, or volunteering experiences. In addition, researchers should investigate how the crisis
changes psychological career resources, career attitudes, and behaviors, including career
aspirations and career choices, and how such changes affect career development in both positive
and negative ways.
For practice, public policy should focus on controlling the spread of the virus through
public health measures and helping people remain employed by financially supporting
businesses that are most affected. This could prevent negative career effects of unemployment.
In addition, for employees and the unemployed, volunteering can be promoted and coordinated
as a way to maintain or gain new career resources. Psychologists working in HR, job placement,
or career counseling could assist employees experiencing career insecurity and the unemployed
with evaluating the implications for their careers, including if and how they might want to
consider alternative career paths and occupations -- temporarily or permanently. In addition,
exploring options for volunteering might be a good way to expand career prospects and work
meaningfulness during the crisis. Career counselors working with students should take into
account that the current crisis might have affected their career outlook and aspirations. The ways
in which this occurred and its implications for career preparation, planning, and career choice
should be explored in career counseling sessions. Finally, career counselors might want to take
the crisis as an opportunity to help clients re-assess their priorities in work and life and help
clients identify and pursue career goals under consideration of work and nonwork roles and
From the preceding 10 sections, COVID-19 will clearly have wide-sweeping effects on
processes that broadly affect the nature of work and organizations, and, more importantly,
directly affect employees. We have focused purposefully on the influences of the pandemic crisis
on occupational health and safety, work-family issues, telecommuting, virtual teamwork, job
insecurity, precarious work, leadership, human resources policy, the aging workforce, and
careers. These topics represent, in our view, those most likely to be “disrupted” by the COVID-
19 pandemic crisis. However, clearly, there are additional topics in IO psychology that may be
relevant to the current pandemic crisis that were not covered explicitly or directly here (e.g.,
personnel recruitment, selection, and training; work analysis and work design; performance
management; justice within organizations; employment relations and psychological contracts;
adaptive and proactive behaviors, such as employee silence and voice; organizational culture and
cross-cultural differences; see also Fouad, 2020; Gibson, 2020). Thus, we especially call on our
colleagues to consider how additional topics in our field will be affected by COVID-19.
Our goal with this article was to raise important questions to stimulate new research and
practice discussions regarding these topics (see Table 2), rather than presenting the evidence
reviewed here as the “final word” on these issues. To support this, we call on researchers to
undertake systematic efforts at evidence synthesis (i.e., systematic reviews and meta-analyses,
especially of intervention studies) in these 10 areas, and beyond, and for practitioners to apply
evidence from such syntheses as the basis for (re)developing organizational policies and
practices in preparation for future pandemic crises (e.g., Carlsson, 2020).
Clearly, the impact of COVID-19 will present a broad variety of challenges and
opportunities for research and practice in IO psychology. Indeed, as Steven Taylor (2019) wrote
in The Psychology of Pandemics, even though a pandemic crisis can cause an increase in
xenophobia, panic reactions, and superstition, humans show also an increase in solidarity and
mutual support. We hope that our field can help to curtail the former, and encourage the latter,
and we invite our colleagues to “make this happen.” In light of this pandemic, the field of
psychology, broadly defined, has been criticized for not being “crisis ready” (IJzerman et al.,
2020). IO psychology is in a unique position to help shape the future of work and help encourage
the types of organizational policies and practices that will ensure readiness for potential future
pandemic crises. Thus, we hope that this focal article serves as a “grand challenge” to IO
psychology researchers and practitioners to face the challenges and opportunities of COVID-19
and future pandemics head-on by proactively innovating the work we do in support of workers,
organizations, and society as a whole.
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Table 1. Summary of 10 Areas, “Sub-Topics,” and Prototypical Headlines
Example Headlines Highlighting
COVID-19 Impacts
Occupational Health & Safety
"Employers Rush to Adopt Virus
Screening. The Tools May Not Help
Singer (2020)
Work-Family Issues
"Is COVID-19 Destroying Work-Life
Backman (2020)
"Telework may save U.S. jobs in
COVID-19 downturn, especially among
college graduates'
Kochhar & Passel (2020)
Virtual Teamwork
"The key to managing teams you can’t
see: Make everyone accountable to each
Ferrazzi (2020)
Job Insecurity
"I Got Fired Over Zoom"
Copaken (2020)
Precarious Work
"Half of world’s workers ‘at immediate
risk of losing livelihood due to
Inman (2020)
"8 critical lessons leaders need to emerge
from the COVID-19 crisis (and one that
will surprise you)"
Nazar (2020)
HR Policy
"What to do: contemplating staffing
plans amid an evolving health crisis"
Duffy (2020)
The Aging Workforce
"COVID-19 has some older workers
rethinking retirement"
Adams (2020)
"Finding jobs and building careers in the
age of COVID-19 and
Abedin (2020)
Table 2. Summary of Research and Practice Challenges and Opportunities Associated with COVID-19
Occupational Health & Safety
- How can workers perform
at a high level over a long
period of time, even when
they experience high strain
- How do job stressors and
strain symptoms develop
over time?
- How can researchers
implement strong research
designs during times of
- Use objective indicators
(e.g., infectious cases, deaths)
as additional factors in
prediction models.
- Incorporate modules
assessing crisis parameters in
ongoing research projects.
- How to reduce health
care workers’ workload
and enable daily recovery
during times with high
case load?
- How to teach health
care workers and other
highly needed personnel
adequate coping
- Build on experiences in other
extreme work settings (e.g.,
military, bushfire brigades).
- Emphasize a strong safety
climate and provide
organizational support for safety.
- Prepare intervention programs
to be rolled out during and after
the acute crisis in order to
prevent post-traumatic stress
Work-Family Issues
- How has the pandemic
influenced different forms
of work-family conflict?
- What unique work-family
challenges are faced by
different populations of
- What is potential positive
work-family outcomes of
the pandemic?
- Develop a more fine-
grained understanding of
work-family struggles during
a crisis situation.
- Explore the intersection of
race/class/gender to improve
understanding of work-family
challenges across a broader
range of employees.
- Apply a variety of
methodologies to gain in-
depth understanding of work-
family dynamics.
- How are existing
national and
organizational policies
able to meet employees'
work-family needs?
- How can organizations
and supervisors best
support employees during
this time?
- Leverage knowledge gained
about work-family struggles
during the pandemic to positively
impact future
national/organizational policies.
- Identify key resources that can
improve employees' work-family
outcomes during crisis situations.
- How do contextual
variables that vary within
different remote work
arrangements (e.g., use of
different technology,
supervisory styles,
communication techniques)
impact employee well-
being and performance?
- How does forced
telecommuting due to the
pandemic impact long-term
organizational policies and
attitudes toward
- How can employees with
high segmentation
boundary management
practices best preserve this
preference while
- Leverage the large
workforce that is now
working remotely across a
wide variety of jobs and
organizational contexts to
study contextual factors.
- Conduct longitudinal
research that retroactively
assesses pre-COVID-19
organizational policies and
attitudes about face-time
norms and repeat
measurement post-COVID-
19 after the return to standard
work arrangements.
- Conduct qualitative
research on telecommuters'
strategies based on their
boundary management
- How can workforce
morale be sustained when
physical interactions are
- What are best practices
in telecommuting
arrangements to facilitate
worker well-being and
- What can organizations
do to cater to individuals
who must work from
home but have children at
- Provide opportunities for
workers to still connect through
virtual coffee breaks or happy
hours. Allow time in virtual
meetings for some socialization.
- Review existing empirical
evidence and gather data from
this forced telecommuting time
to better understand what works
and what does not.
- Prepare policies that allow for
reduced hours schedules or
temporary leave to accommodate
crisis situations for those who
simply cannot be as productive at
Virtual Teamwork
- Which features of virtual
teamwork are particularly
helpful in a pandemic?
- How can specific demands
of a pandemic guide use(r)-
inspired development of
virtual teamwork tools?
- How can emerging
technologies (Virtual
Reality, automated
feedback routines, etc.)
support team members’
needs in a pandemic?
- How can environmental
implications of virtual
teamwork be considered for
far-sighted planning and
- Use the current crisis as a
motivation for innovation and
empirical research on virtual
- Examine teamwork
processes when projects have
to go virtual rapidly.
- Support and leverage open
exchange on innovative
teamwork solutions within
and across organizations and
- How can ongoing teams
and projects be digitized?
- How can teams stay
connected, motivated,
and maintain high team
spirit despite spatial
- How can
technologically less
experienced workers be
prepared for virtual
- How can health and
security issues be
maintained when team
members work remotely?
- Implement and further develop
virtual teamwork for physical
distancing and social connection
during a pandemic.
- Use the pandemic crisis to
rethink what really matters in
teams: Purposeful tasks, mutual
support, and positive recognition.
- Consider lessons learned and
successful teamwork solutions
from the current pandemic for
implementation and maintenance
after the crisis.
Job Insecurity
- How has the pandemic
shaped employees’ job
insecurity experiences?
- What are the short- and
long-term consequences of
the high levels of job
insecurity experienced
around the world?
- How do the conditions
surrounding job insecurity
impact whether employees
return to/remain with their
employers after the crisis is
- Develop a more nuanced
understanding of job
insecurity experiences.
- Study the pandemic as a
natural experiment that has
created high levels of job
- Expand our understanding
of individual and collective
outcomes of job insecurity.
- What strategies can
organizations use to
manage uncertainty
during this inherently
uncertain time?
- How can organizations
mitigate the negative
consequences of job
insecurity and, for those
employees ultimately
achieve a positive
transition back to work?
- Crisis offers an opportunity for
organizations to demonstrate
support for their employees and
build loyalty.
- Employers and employees may
benefit from strategies that help
employees to maintain social
connection, identity, meaning,
and skill development despite
actual or potential job loss.
Precarious Work
- What does the pandemic
reveal about existing
inequities within the labor
market and how does it
exacerbate these inequities?
- Are people with
precarious work more
vulnerable to the economic
and health effects of the
- What are factors that help
people with precarious
work cope with crises?
- Examine how the pandemic
exacerbates existing
inequities in access to power
and resources.
- Investigate the extent to
which precarious work is a
risk factor for the financial
and health consequences of
the pandemic.
-Evaluate which
interventions and policies are
most effective at alleviating
the consequences of the
pandemic for people with
precarious work.
-How can organizations
minimize precarity in
their workforce while
also maintaining
competitiveness and
-How can organizations
and governments
effectively support people
with precarious work
through the pandemic?
-What interventions and
policies will help people
with precarious work
through the pandemic and
other crises?
-Expand access to benefits within
organizations to part-time and
temporary employees to increase
retention and productivity.
-Consider precarious work as a
potential risk factor for the
economic and health
consequences of COVID-19.
-Develop and implement long-
term governmental policies (e.g.,
a living wage, expanded
employment insurance) that
support people with precarious
work through personal and larger
scale crises.
- How does the pandemic
influence leadership?
- Who emerges as a leader
during the pandemic?
- What makes leaders
effective during the
- Examine the pandemic as a
context factor that leads to
changes in leadership.
- Study individual differences
and behaviors that impact
leader emergence during the
- Study what effective leaders
actually "do" in different
phases of a crisis.
- Which leaders can deal
successfully with the
demands (e.g., insecurity)
during the pandemic?
- How can leaders be
trained to deal with a
crisis situation?
- How do leaders' health-
related behaviors impact
on themselves and their
- Select leaders for and train
them in digital/e-leadership
knowledge, skills, and abilities.
- Improve leaders and followers'
health-related attitudes, values,
and behaviors.
HR Policy
- Does the pandemic affect
strategic and operational
HR policies in companies?
- Do HR-featured
idiosyncratic deals (I-deals)
help employees to better
cope with the COVID-19
related work situation?
- What are downsizing
strategies that do not
destroy talent resources and
motivation of remaining
- Examine development and
the role of HR policies during
the pandemic.
- Investigate employee
perceptions and effectiveness
of I-deals during the
- Evaluate the effectiveness
of different downsizing
-How can HR polices
help to build a new
hygiene culture in
- How can companies
sustain and develop talent
during the pandemic?
-What is a commitment-
oriented downsizing
strategy during a
- Learn from practice in public
health research, like positive
deviance procedures.
- Invest in digital and blended-
learning activities to develop
talent resources.
'- Have an open and transparent
communication about
downsizing and use involuntary
The Aging Workforce
- How are workers of
different ages differentially
affected by the pandemic?
- Are older workers more or
less susceptible to the
environmental challenges
associated with COVID-19?
- Examine age as a "risk
factor" for the influence of
COVID-19-related changes
to work.
- Examine features of work
and work environments that
support workers of different
- How can organizations
tailor policies to help
workers of all ages
manage the financial and
psycho-social "fallout" of
- Tailor policies (e.g., retirement
schemes) to optimize challenges
faced by workers of different
ages as a result of the pandemic.
- How does the pandemic
affect career trajectories?
- How are career choices of
students affected by the
- In what way do people’s
career attitudes change due
to the crisis?
- Examine how people
change careers voluntarily or
involuntarily due to the crisis.
- Study if and how people
develop new career
- Investigate which personal
and contextual career
resources help people dealing
effectively with the career
shock of the pandemic.
- How can businesses
and employees be
supported to minimize
negative effects on future
career trajectories and
- How can employees and
the unemployed be
optimally supported in
dealing with career
insecurity due to the
- Use volunteering as a way to
increase career resources and
work meaningfulness.
- Help clients in career
counseling to adopt a whole-life
perspective in their career self-
... Employability allows employees to respond to contemporary ubiquitous and rapid changes in organizational environments (e.g., changing tasks and work-related processes; Bozionelos et al., 2016), thus changing job demands. Worldwide megatrends cause various rapid changes, such as ongoing technological innovation (Baptista et al., 2020;Henderikx andStoffers, 2022), hyper-competition (D'Aveni, 1994), aging of the populations, and the COVID-19 pandemic (Rudolph et al., 2020). For example, COVID-19 influenced work-related processes, and employees had to subsequently cope with workfamily challenges because work became increasingly organized due to working from home, telecommuting, and virtual teamwork (Rudolph et al., 2020). ...
... Worldwide megatrends cause various rapid changes, such as ongoing technological innovation (Baptista et al., 2020;Henderikx andStoffers, 2022), hyper-competition (D'Aveni, 1994), aging of the populations, and the COVID-19 pandemic (Rudolph et al., 2020). For example, COVID-19 influenced work-related processes, and employees had to subsequently cope with workfamily challenges because work became increasingly organized due to working from home, telecommuting, and virtual teamwork (Rudolph et al., 2020). ...
Full-text available
Introduction Policymakers, researchers, and practitioners have recently begun treating employability-an individual's ability to possess and continuously adjust and acquire up-to-date competencies, flexibility, adaptability, and openness to change-as crucial to enabling employees to respond to ubiquitous and rapid changes in organizations (e.g., changing tasks and work-related processes). Research into ways to enhance employability, particularly through supervisor leadership, which, for example, facilitates training and competence development, has thus grown in popularity. A review on leadership as an antecedent of employability is both evident and timely. This review thus addresses the question of whether a supervisor's leadership influences employees' employability, and in which contexts and through which mechanisms it does so. Methods As preliminary study we conducted a bibliometric analysis (which corroborated employability's recent rise in popularity) and as main study we conducted a systematic literature review. For this, the authors independently searched for articles, which met the inclusion criteria and subsequently were included for full text analysis. The authors also independently used the forward and backward snowballing technique for identifying additional articles which met the inclusion criteria and subsequently were included for full text analysis. The procedure resulted in 17 articles in total. Results Most of the articles identified positive relationships among several conceptualizations of supervisor leadership and employee employability, such as transformational leadership and leader-member exchange, and to a lesser extent, servant leadership and perceived supervisor support. This review suggests that such relationships occur across different work contexts, such as educational, SMEs, healthcare, and several other industries, and these contexts also vary geographically. Discussion The relationships among supervisor leadership and employee employability are largely explained using a social exchange perspective, which means that the positive influence of leadership on employability is itself influenced by a two-way social exchange relationship between supervisor and employees. The quality of the dyadic relationship between leader and followers thus determines the extent to which leaders offer valuable resources such as training and feedback, which subsequently enhances employees' employability. This review demonstrates that investing in supervisors' leadership is a valuable HRM strategy that fosters employability, and it identifies practical implications that inform policy and practice and sets an agenda for future employability research.
... While Kim and Asbury (2020) focused on stressors and coping strategies implemented by teachers during the first weeks of the lockdown, we focused on worries, fears, and concerns experienced by teachers at the end of the school year. Our results are corroborated by converging evidence showing that being infected at the workplace is a common fear already found among other workers (e.g., Rudolph et al., 2020). ...
Full-text available
It is now well documented that school closures enforced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic impaired teachers' well-being. Yet, only a few studies tracked changes in teachers' well-being during the subsequent phases of the pandemic, phases that were characterized by the discontinuous implementation of in-person teaching and distance learning. To fill this gap, we conducted a follow-up study at the end of the school year 2020-2021 (May-June 2021, T2), administering an online questionnaire to Italian teachers (N = 240) who had previously taken part in a data collection conducted at the end of the first school closures (May-June 2020, T1). Our first aim was to monitor changes in teachers' psychological and work-related well-being between T1 and T2. Our second aim was to assess whether time spent on distance learning moderates these changes in psychological and work-related well-being. Results showed that teachers' psychological well-being decreased between T1 and T2, whereas work-related well-being increased. What is more, time spent on distance learning moderated the general increase in work-related well-being observed at T2: The longer teachers implemented distance learning during the school year 2021, the less their work-related well-being increased. In conclusion, although it seems that teachers have adapted to the changes associated with the first school closures, this study showed that distance learning remains a possible risk factor for teachers' well-being. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).
... Por outro lado, a atual situação socio--pandémica tem aumentado o interesse nos constructos do conflito trabalho-família, satisfação profissional e performance laboral face às novas características profissionais subjacentes (Bhattarai, 2020;John et al., 2020;Schieman et al., 2021;Vaziri et al., 2020). Os limites entre o contexto laboral e a vida familiar perderam-se (Fisher et al., 2020;Rudolph et al. 2020) devido ao aumento do teletrabalho (Kramer & Kramer, 2020). Tal situação tem originado mudanças na exposição ao conflito entre ambos os domínios, uma vez que, haverá a integração das exigências do trabalho em casa causando uma dificuldade na distinção de papéis, tanto no momento do trabalho como na representação de papéis relacionados à família (Schieman et al., 2021). ...
Work From Home (WFH) or telework is gaining its popularity all over the world, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has forced the organizations to embark on vitrual work environment even though many were not prepared for such changes. This study examined the determinants of job satisfaction among the new home workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia by applying the Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) Model. The data were collected from 370 respondents across various industries through online questionnaire survey. Out of the 370 respondents, 30.5% of the respondents specializing in education/training, 24.6% are in accounting/banking/finance, 15.9% are in computer/IT and \the remaining 29% are from other fields such as administration/HR, marketing/sales, manufacturing, engineering, art/media/communication, sciences, services and others. The findings based on the Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) analysis suggests that social isolation, suitability of home workspace, organizational supports, job autonomy and perceived self competency have significant influences on employees’ job satisfaction while working from home. This study offers valuable insights to organizations regarding sustainable human resource management strategies during the pandemic. It suggests that various forms of organizational support should be extended to employees during times of difficulties and uncertainties.
Purpose The research paper aims to study dissatisfaction of teleworking employees in Spain during the Covid-19 health pandemic in order to propose three models: sociodemographic profile of the teleworking dissatisfied employee; advantages and disadvantages for the teleworking dissatisfied employee and advantages for the teleworking dissatisfied employee. Design/methodology/approach This study uses official open data obtained from the Spanish National Statistical Institute (INE, 2022) through Decision Trees statistical multivariable models implementing Classification and Regression Trees and Recursive Partitioning and Regression Trees techniques to determine the variables that can influence the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the subjects. Findings This investigation offers three models with two sociodemographic profiles of dissatisfied teleworking employee, who is a high/middle-level manager/employee around 45 years old, and she/he lives with the partner. Regarding the most important advantage of teleworking, employees consider “use/saving of time” and as disadvantage “worse organization and coordination of work”. Originality/value This research provides empirical evidence with inductive reasoning on understanding the challenges of teleworking dissatisfied employees in Spain not only in turbulent times but also in “normalcy” to improve overall teleworker well-being and accomplish company’s and organization’s long-term objectives for better productivity and effectivity. The study has high practical value due to the integral approach incorporating dissatisfaction as a driver that can trigger negative behaviours towards the organizations and that is seldom addressed in the literature. Additionally, this paper could provide some new ideas for accomplishing “Spain Digital 2025” and “Europe’s Digital Decade: 2030” plans on institutional level.
We extend research on employee voice by examining what persuades managers to enact voice messages communicated on organizations' idea management platforms (i.e., software systems designed to gather, vet, and enact employee voice). Applying the elaboration likelihood model of persuasion, we propose that voice message quality affects managerial voice enactment via peer endorsement and that peer opposition qualifies the latter effect. Specifically, we argue that peers are more likely to endorse higher‐ versus lower‐quality voice messages because they are attentive recipients who are motivated to support higher‐quality voice. In turn, we argue that managers are influenced by image concerns and legitimacy inferred by social proof, and thus, they will enact voice messages with higher levels of peer endorsement, especially when combined with lower opposition. Results of our archival analysis of over 5000 voice messages communicated on five organizations' idea management platforms support our predictions, such that peer endorsement mediates the relationship between voice message quality and managerial voice enactment, and that this relationship is stronger under conditions of lower versus higher peer opposition. Altogether, our research illuminates how voice messages on idea management platforms are endorsed and ultimately enacted by organizational leaders.
Generation Y and Generation X comprise the majority of the workforce in Kazakhstan. This article attempts to unfold the origins of generational differences in job satisfaction and organizational commitment by focusing on its effect on employees who strongly absorbed the communist ideology and those who ended up in a newly formed country at an early age after collapsing of the USSR. A total of 605 participants from various government agencies were asked to complete a survey in which JSQ and OCQ were used to testify whether generational attributes of employees play a significant part. The results revealed Generation X values security and co-workers the most, whereas Generation Y values independence and supervision. Generation X, on the other hand, is dissatisfied with activity, power, and pay, while Generation Y is dissatisfied with a lack of creativity, variety and achievement. It was hypothesized that extrinsic, intrinsic satisfaction had stronger positive relationships with each commitment component for Generation X than Generation Y employees. Results partially supported the hypotheses. A substantial difference was discovered among the two generations of workers, with extrinsic job satisfaction found to be positively associated with commitment among Generation X and intrinsic job satisfaction strongly encouraging commitment among Generation Y.
Full-text available
Burnout means losing power, the case of not making an effort. Burnout is generally seen as emotional burnout and desensitization syndrome, which is a result of working with people. People may have different burnout types in terms of physical and psychological cases. One of these burnout types is digital burnout, which has increased in informative era. Digital burnout is seen as a result of spending too much time for digital tools, and it causes stress, fatigue, desensitization, losing attention, physical and mental problems. Like all burnout employees, teachers may have physical, emotional and mental fatigue, and it can be said that this can negatively affect their teaching process and performances. The purpose of this study is to determine teachers' digital burnout level and to analyze it in terms of different variables. This study is designed as descriptive survey model which is one of the quantitative research models. As for research aim, 811 teachers who have been working in different public and private schools in different cities of Turkey are counted in this study. As for data collection instrument, in this study, "Digital Burnout Scale" that was developed by Erten and Özdemir was used in order to collect data. According to the results in Digital Burnout Scale and its sub-dimensions, it was determined that the teachers' digital burnout and digital deprivation levels were in medium level, their digital aging and emotional exhaustion levels were in high level.
Full-text available
The study attempts to explore the factors of work-life balance (WLB)amid the pandemic and the effects of these derived factors on the overall perception of WLB of bank employees. The quantitative research method was harnessed to explore the objectives. Employees of commercial banks serving in the Morang district, one of the 77 administrative units of Nepal, during the pandemic were the population of the study. Primary data were collected using structured questionnaires. Snowball and purposive sampling methods were implied to get the sample of 193 bank employees. The study extracted four factors; personal demand, family demand, work demand, and social demand dimensions of WLB duringCovid-19. And personal demand factor of WLB stood as the most significant out of the other two significant factors namely family and work demand factors to influence the overall perception of WLB amidst the pandemic. Employees’ self-care and self-development needs are to be incorporated while formulating policies of the organization and more specifically WLB during the traumatic conditions.
Full-text available
The contagiousness and deadliness of COVID-19 have necessitated drastic social management to halt transmission. The immediate effects of a nationwide lockdown were investigated by comparing matched samples of New Zealanders assessed before (Npre-lockdown = 1,003) and during the first 18 days of lockdown (Nlockdown = 1,003). Two categories of outcomes were examined: (1) institutional trust and attitudes towards the nation and government, and (2) health and wellbeing. Applying propensity score matching to approximate the conditions of a randomized controlled experiment, the study found that people in the pandemic/lockdown group reported higher trust in science, politicians, and police, higher levels of patriotism, and higher rates of mental distress compared to people in the pre-lockdown pre-pandemic group. Results were confirmed in within-subjects analyses. The study highlights social connectedness, resilience, and vulnerability in the face of adversity, and has applied implications for how countries face this global challenge.
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It is common to broadly group people of different ages into “generations” and to speak of distinctions between such groups in terms of “generational differences.” The problem with this practice, is that there exists no credible scientific evidence that (a) generations exist, (b) that people can be reliably classified into generational groups, and (c) that there are demonstrable differences between such groups. We have already noted an emerging generationalized rhetoric that has characterized how people of different ages have been affected by and reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic. These narratives have been especially present in discussions of how work and careers will be affected by this crisis. In this essay, we outline problems with applying the concept of generations, especially for researchers seeking explanations for how COVID-19 will affect careers and career development. We urge researchers to eschew the notion of generations and generational differences and consider alternative lifespan development theoretical frameworks that better capture age-graded processes.
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The economic and social shock presented by the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to reshape perceptions of individuals and organizations about work and occupations and result in both micro and macro shifts in the world of work. In this essay we focus on three occupationally-related domains that may be impacted by the pandemic. First, perceptions of the value and status of different occupations may change, resulting in both changes of occupational supply and demand (macro changes) and changes in the perceived calling and meaningfulness of different occupations (micro changes). Second, the great “work from home experiment” may change occupational perspectives on working from home. Organizations and researchers may be able to better understand which occupational and individual characteristics are associated with work-from-home effectiveness and better designate occupational groups and individuals to working (or not working) from home. Third, we discuss the increased segmentation of the labor market which allocate workers to “good jobs” and “bad jobs” and the contribution of occupational segmentation to inequality.
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The covid-19 pandemic is a career shock for many people across the globe. In this article, we reflect on how insights from the literature on career shocks can help us understand the career consequences of the pandemic and offer suggestions for future research in this area. In particular, we offer three “key lessons”. The first lesson is that the implications of Covid-19 reflect the dynamic interplay between individual and contextual factors. Here, we argue that although the pandemic was difficult to predict and control, research shows that certain psychological resources – such as career competencies and resilience – could make this career shock more manageable. The second lesson is that the pandemic may have differential implications over time, as suggested by research that has shown the consequences of career shocks to differ between short-term vs. long-term time horizons, and across life- and career stages. The third lesson is that, even though the pandemic is clearly a negatively valenced shock for most people, further into the future it may allow for more positive outcomes. This lesson builds on research showing how negative career shocks have long-term positive consequences for some people. We hope that these insights will inspire both scholars and practitioners to study and understand the work and career implications of Covid-19 as a career shock, as well as to support people in dealing with its consequences.
The COVID-19 pandemic represents a major global health crisis that continues to threaten public health and safety. Although the pandemic is still unfolding, measures to reduce the spread of the virus have spawned significant challenges to people's current work as well as their careers more generally. In this commentary, we discuss the implications of COVID-19 for maintaining one's psychological well-being and employment security, and also managing family and work responsibilities. We also bring forth evidence from the emotion regulation literature to help mitigate the downstream negative consequences of COVID-19 on people's work lives. Finally, we offer several suggestions for future scholarly investigation into how this pandemic impacts vocational behavior.
International and national crises often highlight inequalities in the labor market that disproportionately affect individuals from marginalized backgrounds. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting changes in society due to social distancing measures, has showcased inequities in access to decent work and experiences of discrimination resulting in many of the vulnerable populations in the United States experiencing a much harsher impact on economic and work-related factors. The purpose of this essay is to describe how the COVID-19 pandemic may differentially affect workers of color, individuals from low-income backgrounds, and women in complex ways. First, this essay will discuss disproportionate representation of workers from low-income and racial/ethnic minority backgrounds in sectors most affected by COVID-19. Second, it will discuss the lack of decent work for low-income workers who perform “essential” tasks. Third, this essay will highlight economic and work-related implications of increased discrimination Asian Americans are experiencing in society. Finally, role conflict and stress for women who are managing additional unpaid work, including caretaking responsibilities, while needing to continue to engage in paid work will be examined. A research agenda will be set forth throughout the essay, calling for vocational psychologists to engage in research that fully examines how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting vulnerable communities.
The COVID-19 has posed an unprecedented challenge to the global workforce. To better understand the impact of the pandemic on work and careers, I call for research taking a closer look at the boundaries in the career context. Specifically, both the micro (boundaries that demarcate role domains) and macro (national borders) boundaries should be considered. The pandemic changes the existing boundaries and challenges the “usual” practices; while it blurs the micro, cross-domain boundaries, it strengthens the macro, cross-country boundaries. I propose that the changes in the micro and macro boundaries are one of the important mechanisms in how COVID-19 affects many individuals' vocational behaviors and career outcomes. In this essay, I explain why we should pay more attention to the boundaries to learn about the impact of COVID-19 on vocational and career behaviors. I conclude with a discussion of several directions for future research.
This essay represents the collective vision of a group of scholars in vocational psychology who have sought to develop a research agenda in response to the massive global unemployment crisis that has been evoked by the COVID-19 pandemic. The research agenda includes exploring how this unemployment crisis may differ from previous unemployment periods; examining the nature of the grief evoked by the parallel loss of work and loss of life; recognizing and addressing the privilege of scholars; examining the inequality that underlies the disproportionate impact of the crisis on poor and working class communities; developing a framework for evidence-based interventions for unemployed individuals; and examining the work-family interface and unemployment among youth.
The COVID-19 pandemic represents a crisis that affects several aspects of people's lives around the globe. Most of the affected countries took several measures, like lockdowns, business shutdowns, hygiene regulations, social distancing, school and university closings, or mobility tracking as a means of slowing down the distribution of COVID-19. These measures are expected to show short-term and long-term effects on people's working lives. However, most media reports focused on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on changes in work arrangements (e.g., short-time work, flexible location and hours) for workers in a regular employment relationship. We here focus on workers in flexible employment relationships (e.g. temporary agency work and other forms of subcontracted labor, as well as new forms of working, such as in the gig economy). Specifically, we will discuss (a) how the work and careers of individuals in flexible employment relationships might get affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; (b) outline ideas how to examine period effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work and careers of those individuals, and (c) outline how the pandemic can contribute to the ramification of flexible employment relationships.