Of COVID-19 and the change in lifestyle patterns

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By Partinella Ngozo

The coronavirus pandemic enforced a paradigm shift in the way we used to do business resulting in what has been coined the ‘new normal’, which social workers have advised people to embrace, in order to move on with the current trends.

The pandemic has completely upended people’s day-to-day life. This has happened on an individual level, as people’s routines have been abandoned in favor of social distancing. It’s also occurring on larger societal, economic and political levels.

Speaking during a Virtual Social Work Chat, Samuel Mahuntse Simbine a Social Work Educator with the Midlands State University (MSU), School of Social Work and focuses more on Research, Child Protection and Indigenous Knowledge Systems discussed how covid-19 has impacted people’s day-to-day businesses.

“Covid-19 has brought significant changes to the way we have been socializing, working and schooling. The pandemic calls for a shift in behaviour and thinking in order to adapt to the new setting. The need to transition from on-site to online goes beyond conferences. Millions of workers have turned to working online, increasing the time spent online, and blurring the line between work and family life. Knowing how to work effectively online can make this transition smoother. Online learning is also receiving renewed focus, as schools, colleges, and universities are forced to shut their doors. Students and lecturers are turning to interactive platforms and innovative tools to enhance their online learning experience. COVID 19 is changing our way of life and we must embrace it. The reduction of carbon footprint and pollution levels, less time spent commuting, and lower travel costs are strong incentives to retaining this new-found kind of (online) normal,” he said.

The lockdown has been a huge experiment in working from home. It’s likely that this will be a more widely accepted phenomenon as companies have seen that people can meet work expectations without spending five days a week in an office – and that there are huge savings to be made in terms of travel time and cost, and office space rental.

Simbine further added that covid-19 should serve as an element that challenges people to communicate more effectively using communication technologies.

“A pandemic changes society. COVID-19 has changed the way we interact and the way we go about our social and professional lives. It may be just the catalyst to force us to learn how to communicate more effectively using a variety of different communication technologies. It may accelerate the development of social norms and we may find novel solutions to the problem of ineffective social sanctions.

“…human services programs can think creatively about ways to strengthen and leverage social capital during this time both remotely and while maintaining safe social distancing practices. Using technology, providing structured ways to connect, offering peer groups or other program activities in non-traditional ways, and engaging qualified alumni and individuals may allow people to strengthen and leverage connections and access tangible and intangible resources,” he said.

Some of the changes that have been made and behavior adopted during the lockdown will stay. Some aspects of life will have changed forever and that change may even be embraced or improved.

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