“The health crisis has been conducive to the implementation of many changes at work”

Tribune. The unprecedented health crisis that we are going through, especially in professional circles, invites us to examine its consequences on the relationship between health and work, in the short and longer term. Epidemiological surveys highlight that certain socio-professional categories, the “first on duty” – nursing staff, mass distribution, maintenance of infrastructure, etc. -, were particularly exposed to the virus during confinement, and paid a heavy price for it. The same surveys have shown, in the background, that the working conditions in these jobs did not protect them from the health risks inherent in the exercise of their profession. However, these analyzes may have suggested that it was enough to be confined to stay in good health, and deconfined according to the health rules in force for the risks to disappear. The picture of the relationship between health and work is obviously more nuanced than that, as questions relating to health cannot be reduced to illness, but must be analyzed through the experience of previous situations as well as of the current period, with its trials, its adventures and its learning.

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The health crisis has, in fact, been conducive to the implementation of many changes at work, in terms of organization, content and support technologies. In these conditions, both the work teams and the management had to review the priorities between the tasks to be done, redefine the methods of prescription and collaboration, invent socialization methods that respected health rules, review – or create – their spaces. of work. They all had to familiarize themselves with new information and communication tools to ensure professional interactions.

The first returns from professional circles during this period of twists and turns allow us to distinguish two major trends in occupational health.

Abrupt and lasting cut

On the one hand, technical and organizational changes, often carried out in a hurry, may have led to processes of isolation, due to the sudden and lasting cutoff with colleagues and the hierarchy, or the inability to work at home, for lack of suitable material conditions or a sufficiently reliable information system. These ruptures seem to be linked less to the nature of the activity than to the robustness of the organization of the teams: links that were already weak before the pandemic were then further weakened, or even broken. This relegation could induce a feeling of abandonment, the lasting traces of which are to be feared in the functioning of these teams and for the health of the people concerned.

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