With most Governments all over the world implementing further isolation practices in order to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, many of us have found that the internet has become an even more essential and important tool in our everyday lives. It has allowed people to stay connected to loved ones, has reduced the risk of spreading the virus by letting those most vulnerable stay home and order essential products online and gave businesses the option of continuing to operate in some capacity through work at home programmes.
With WordPress underpinning 27.5% of the World’s websites (with 50,000 new websites being added daily) and with many businesses now moving exclusively to an online ‘work from home’ model, the platform is at the forefront of keeping these services open and running smoothly. With continued business operations such a necessity, WordPress is having to quickly adapt to meet these new demands in order to meet the rapidly changing needs of it’s massive user base.
From a more practical perspective, WordPress cancelled WordCamp Asia back in February in response to the outbreak, while developers have built and launched a variety of plugins that are helping websites to share important information with their users. One new plugin that is helping is the CoronaVirus (COVID-19) Banner. This simple plugin allows website owners to add a banner notice to their website informing users of any COVID-19 related updates that they need to share.
The potential difficulties of working from home
While practical applications are indeed useful and can help spread awareness and up to date developments, more personal issues such as depression and loneliness will become an emerging factor for those who are experiencing working from home in isolation for the first time.
As many freelancers and self-employed small business owners already know, working by yourself from home can be both a blessing and a curse with freelancers reported to be twice as likely to be depressed compared to office workers. The effects of spending long days working alone has resulted in 56% of freelancers reporting to suffer from depression as a result of their job, with a further 62% saying they feel stressed due to the lonely nature of the work. This is compared to office-based workers, where less than 30% say they suffer from depression and 55% reported feelings of stress.
While working from home may be the dream of many who harbour thoughts of creating their own work hours and operating in a much more comfortable and familiar environment, there is also the downside of being starved of important emotional factors such as social human interaction (something we are biologically hardwired to seek out), personal contact and suffering from increased feelings of isolation and lack of community. This of course is on top of the extra anxiety and stress that has been created from the extra child care issues many parents are now facing, as well as having to ensure the safety and well-being of older relatives and loved ones.
In an effort to stem these negative emotions, organisations such as WPHugs have been established to provide a community for like-minded people to discuss these difficult topics in real-time. The WPHugs Slack channel is free to join via an invitation by registering at the WPHugs website and has the goal of providing community support to those who need help during these difficult times. While not a professional therapy channel, it’s founder Leo Gopal hopes that by crowd-sourcing tips, tricks and conversations, they can help to maintain good mental health amongst the WordPress community.
Keeping the world running
With the majority of people being told to stay home and if possible do their shopping online, websites are seeing unprecedented levels of visitors and demand. With the extra millions of customers now ordering through online shopping channels for large stores such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrions, customers are facing a 3 week wait for their deliveries to be filled. While WordPress cannot do much about this massive surge in demand for groceries and delivery drivers, it has helped keep numerous big sites such as Microsoft News, Facebook Newsroom, New York Observer, TED, CNN, Time.com, The White House and the New York Post online and accessible to people looking for the latest news and information regarding the virus from local and national agencies. For people in isolation, these outlets are providing essential important information and news regarding the constantly evolving Government guides and plans for dealing with the virus outbreak.
While many people are naturally adjusting to the massive change in their lives following the spread of the COVID-19 virus, WordPress has proved to be an amazing platform for evolving to the needs of its users and building a shared community. If you would like to share with us any of your stories regarding work isolation and stress and how you have managed to cope during tough times, please do so in the comment section below.