How Have Work Environments Changed During a Global Pandemic?

Mona Hadj Ayed, Staff

During March in Washington, all businesses were forced to close as per Covid-19 state guidelines, except for those that were deemed essential for the functioning of society. Essential businesses included fast food chains, grocery stores, and gas stations, which meant that all employees within those businesses were required to continue working during the global pandemic. 

All essential workers began following safety guidelines that were implemented to protect both employees and patrons. For instance, social distancing became a requirement. Those guidelines allowed businesses to continue operating, which caused essential businesses to become some of the only establishments that were able to keep the American economy afloat. 

Workers suddenly faced a completely altered work environment. “I always wear gloves and a mask. All employees are checked for symptoms before each shift,” said senior Julia Lats. 

Furthermore, guidelines have increased since the pandemic became serious in March. “Frequent sanitation, frequent handwashing, and facial coverings are all now mandatory, when those were simply suggestions at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Adam Hadj Ayed, a store employee.

Some essential workers also face a sense of worry because they have a higher potential risk of contracting Covid-19. “I feel somewhat afraid of catching the virus through interacting with the public, but I have a responsibility to do my job,” explained Adam Hadj Ayed. 

However, some workers aren’t afraid, specifically due to the new guidelines. “I wash my hands, wear a mask, and sanitize my area. I feel that I have taken the necessary steps to prevent myself from contracting it,” said Chedia Elarbi, a parent of a Tahoma student. 

Employers must also enforce the new policies and recommendations, in order to keep people safe. “My workplace has done an adequate job of implementing new policies, such as by limiting physical contact through mobile ordering and no-contact pickup, as well as removing the sitting area from the restaurant,” added Julia Lats. 

The current health crisis has definitely shown how essential employees have risen to the challenge. “We don’t know when the pandemic will end, so this is the new normal,” stated Adam Hadj Ayed.