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A Key Take-Away on Stress from Your Covid-19 Working Arrangements

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

With so many of us across working from home due to covid-19, and moving to online formats, let’s consider how our jobs are being redesigned, which changes we should keep when we get back.

Under normal circumstances, job redesign is the root of primary work stress interventions. It is about changing how we work within our role, or position; often starting at the task level regarding demands, and resources from the organization (such as control/autonomy, and various support structures). Critically, for most professions it is highly controllable and actionable by organizations, and a more lasting and impactful solution to excessive work stress (and salient well-being, strain, and unwanted employee turnover outcomes) than band-aid secondary interventions such as out-of-office days, retreats, and the like. However, outside the labyrinth of half-a-century of research on the subject, most mainstream press on work stress isn’t about job redesign, but secondary interventions (e.g., “ABC’s Seven Ways to Bust Stress by Doing XYZ”), making for one-sided conversations which often miss root causes. I, for one, would like to see that change.

Job redesign is currently being thrust upon us, and on our leaders. Many of us find this stressful, of course, because we are breaking established work norms. However, this understandable reaction makes the point that work stress can be affected by job redesign (albeit mostly in the wrong direction in present circumstances).

But is the direction wrong in every regard? Your organizational leaders will hopefully be trying to counteract the stress of these changes by offering you resources they may not normally offer. Perhaps it’s greater autonomy and decision making over certain tasks, more- or more personalized support, new mediums for positive coworker interaction, or simply more flexibility for non-essential deadlines. What are they for you?

Now imagine we’re all back to normal (I live in hope!). Here’s a job redesign question: Have we stumbled across some better ways of working during this lockdown period? Put alternatively, how could your organization help ease your work stress by continuing to offer some of these resources? What could we offer our organization in return for these? I encourage you to write down specific examples, and for leaders to engage in helpful conversations around this.

Please re-share this article if you think it’s useful.

You can download my Work Stress Self-Assessment Tool.

Check out the latest webinar events for Jan 2021:

- "Lessons from 2020 to Lower Work Stress in 2021":

- "Protect Your Workforce in 2021:

Marcus Fila, Ph.D., is an organizational analyst and industrial/organizational psychologist. He is an associate professor of management at Hope College; and a researcher, speaker, and consultant on work stress. You can download this Work Stress Self-Assessment Tool. Carpe Diem.

Photo by JR Korpa on Unsplash

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