A shadow pandemic akin to post-war syndrome is likely to beset the world’s population for many years after the immediate health concerns of Covid-19 have passed.
Marie Puybaraud, global head of research at JLL, says the literature from the medical community is already debating the likely effects of the fourth wave of the pandemic – a shadow pandemic that leaves an indelible footprint on our collective health.
“The pandemic is going to leave society with something heavy to carry, heavy to forget. It’s like post-war syndrome – the shadow pandemic, which will leave a health imprint of mental health, burnout, fatigue, psychological scars equivalent to what we have after a war or a terrorist attack.”
Organisations will be required to help address this shadow pandemic, which places the real estate function in an interesting position. It cannot directly influence the conversation around health but it will play a vital role in soothing employees’ stress, fears and doubts about returning to the office.
“Balancing work from home and the return to the office within a safe environment while demonstrating the high level of safety of offices is absolutely crucial,” she says. Any deviation from protocols – colleagues not wearing masks, cleaning not being carried out effectively or following physical distance guidelines – will deter others from coming into the office.
Puybaraud believes 2021 will remain a challenging time with a low percentage of employees back on site and the rest working from home, further affecting employees’ wellbeing.
“The accumulation of fatigue and connective fatigue is going to be there, it’s already tough now and in six months it’s going to be even tougher. The shadow pandemic around the health footprint is going to be on top of the agenda in 2021. I’m putting it at the top of the agenda.”
To hear more from Marie Puybaraud and others on the future of the open-plan office, watch out for the October edition of Facilitate.