Professor Scott Schieman recently spoke to U of T News about his research on the impact of work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Professor Schieman's recently funded project will build on work he had already begun tracking the changing work and family lives of Canadians. The work will now, however, include a study of the impact of the changes wrought by covid-19. His research explores the physical and mental health effects that people are experiencing in their work context amid the pandemic. This ongoing longitudinal study, COVID-19 Impacts on the Quality of Work and Economic Life in Canada, will examine the short-term and long-term impacts of work on 5,000 Canadians for the following five years.
Professor Schieman is the Canada Research Chair in the Social Contexts of Health, a Full Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, and Chair of the Department of Sociology, St. George Campus. His research focuses on health, work stratification, and the work-family interface.
We have posted an excerpt of the article below. The full story is available on the U of T News website here.
Will the pandemic change the world of work? U of T researcher Scott Schieman aims to find out
June 08, 2020
By Paul Fraumeni
As COVID-19 continues to take its toll on the economy, speculation about the future of work abounds.
Will the new standard for office workers be working from home? How will airlines, the film industry or retailers survive the pandemic and what impact will it have on jobs? And what will happen to the millions of workers who were furloughed? How does this affect their mental health?
These questions – and many others – are the focus of a major new study that has just been launched by University of Toronto sociologist Scott Schieman.
In fact, the study is – like so much of the COVID-19 research happening at U of T now – a pivot from existing work.
Known for his research on work-family balance and the stress that often comes from work, Schieman launched a study in September on the working and financial experiences of 2,500 Canadians. His plan was to replicate that study annually to track changes over the next decade.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. By early March, the virus was turning the Canadian economy – and the working lives of people across the country – upside down.
“We decided to change the design of the study,” says Schieman, who is also chair of U of T’s sociology department in the Faculty of Arts & Science and Canada Research Chair in the Social Context of Health. “We realized that it was important to try to map and explain changes in people’s experiences with employment, work and economic life as the pandemic was unfolding, especially given the sweeping shifts in the broader economy and social interaction.
“The job losses, temporary layoffs, the shift toward remote work for many, the social isolation and sense of powerlessness, and numerous other stressors – we expect these to have both short- and long-term implications for physical and mental health.”
With funding from U of T’s Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund, Schieman, along with a team of 11 faculty and graduate and undergraduate students, combined groups of 2,500 people from September 2019 and March 2020 to create a new sampling of 5,000 people who represent a cross-section of the Canadian workforce.