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Ōtautahi – The global covid pandemic stands as a substantial and enduring test to individual, organisational and community resilience, a Christchurch academic says in her paper into the crisis.

This pandemic is one of few catastrophic events in recent history to affect the entire global population and its severity and long-term consequences will test individuals, organisations, communities and nations in unprecedented ways.

The crisis has prompted calls to examine the psychosocial risk factors associated with its immediate impact and aftermath in occupational contexts, and to identify how organisations can support recovery and thriving resilience trajectories, University of Canterbury psychology associate professor Dr Joana Kuntz says.

The paper has been published in the Applied Psychology Journal.

Recent decades have witnessed a surge of proposals for resilience development strategies, spanning employee-centred lifestyle changes, health promotion initiatives, and changes to organisational practices and systems to ensure employee resilience.

Dr Kuntz’s paper integrates the extensive corpus of crisis resilience literature with worker accounts of pandemic-related stressors and protective factors and relies on the evidence to recommend a reframing and resourcing approach to resilience development for disaster contexts.

Over a third of the interviewees reported technology reliance as a main source of stress during lockdown, especially in the services, healthcare and education sectors.

The technology-related stress was primarily ascribed to low system reliability such as network failure, technology deemed incompatible with job requirements and the need to quickly learn and incorporate new software and technology-mediated communication with routine work.

The stress and performance effects of a hasty transition from face-to-face to technology-mediated work, particularly in occupations and sectors that primarily rely on co-located work, are scarcely investigated.

Stress caused by low network reliability is a pervasive issue among individuals who rely on technology for work and was highlighted in the interviews from participants in the healthcare education, and services sectors.

However, participants in the healthcare and education sectors also discussed that being remote from young students or patients posed a significant source of stress, one not typically discussed in the technostress literature applied to knowledge-intensive work and organisations.

Services and education sector workers voiced their concern about the pressure and increased fatigue arising from the need to adapt to new technologies, often with minimal guidance and support.

Technology-mediated team and client communications contributed to a sense of alienation and further distance from individuals in the organisational network that were in close and frequent contact prior to lockdown.

Accounts and scholarly explanations of this sense of psychological distance, isolation, and decreased authenticity of workplace communications are well researched, have surfaced in recent works on the global pandemic and represent experiences that undermine individual resilience through depleted social support.

For further information contact Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188.