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One of the many shifts that occurred during the pandemic has affected the job market in a — somehow — predictable way. In this column, I will focus on some of the jobs that have been affected by the lockdown measures of the past few months.
For the benefit of the reader I have loosely classified the impact on jobs into the following categories:
• Jobs that must be done in person
• Jobs that are normally done in person, but could be done remotely
• Jobs that are usually done in person, but could be automated
• Jobs that were already performed remotely before the pandemic
Jobs that must be done in person
Examples of these jobs are for instance cleaners, barbers, therapists, makeup artists, waiters etc. These jobs can be overall considered almost safe to the crisis.
However, because of some disruption to the regular operating hours — such as for spas and fitness centres — or due to enhanced safe distancing measures — for example in the case of hair salons — these professionals might have lost a few months of income, but in the long run, they can be positive that demand will return.
Another example is in logistics such as food delivery. Riders and drivers saw a boom in demand and worked around the clock to cope with the spiking amount of incoming orders.
Still, under this category, it is interesting to mention farming and agriculture. Food production never stops, hence these jobs have become even more essential during the pandemic and represent perhaps the safest possible jobs to hold during a crisis.
Jobs that are normally done in person, but could be done remotely
These jobs consist mostly of office positions. Salespeople and admins have been physically going to work every day before the pandemic. But then all of a sudden they were required to work from home.
Although statistics about the productivity of working from home are at times contradictory and somehow debatable, it is probably fair to imagine that salespeople that are no longer allowed to visit their clients – locally or globally – might have been impacted in terms of performance and in some cases resorted to accepting salary cuts.
Jobs that are normally done in person, but could be done by a machine
An example is the security guard. When the lockdowns were eased around the world, new tasks were required from them. Many security guards had to learn how to measure temperature and keep detailed records. Quickly these processes have been digitized and automated.
Temperature scanning is now performed through cameras without operators and check-in records are done directly from the visitor’s mobile phone. Especially in countries relying heavily on foreign labour for jobs such as security guards, many have been sent back to their country and they are now struggling to find employment back home, where the need for security guards might not be as widespread.
Jobs that were already available remotely before the pandemic
Think of freelance graphic designers, web developers, influencers, online trainers etc. What has really changed for them? Nothing much except that maybe they have started working for clients with a tighter budget.
Despite the fact that freelancing is not considered a “safe job”, the effects of the pandemic might have not been as harsh on freelancers when compared to full-timers.