Investment in health as the priority for the future of work

The pandemic is accelerating the adoption of automation and digitization in the world of work. It insisted the society to be more adaptive in dealing with business process automation, economic digitization, and the emergence of new forms of work. Indonesia is facing a big challenge in starting the new normal in the field of employment.

News | Jakarta, Indonesia | 16 November 2021
ILO-Katadata interactive discussion on OSH and COVID-19
The webinar discussion on “Future Trend of the World of Work and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) after the Pandemic”, organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in collaboration with Katadata, expounded that preparation is key to deal with future public health crises. In this pandemic, businesses are expected to focus on strategic development of a resilient work environment as part of OSH systems. With changing technologies, providing employees' reskilling and upskilling pathways towards new employment, especially for the vulnerable ones, should be set immediately.

We are still at the phase of disaster relief from the pandemic. At this phase the government must focus on three priorities, these are the health sector, social assistance program and efforts to support for small and medium enterprises."

Chatib Basri, Economist and Former Minister of Finance
The exogenous and instantaneous changes demanded business actors to perform required operation under both expected and unexpected conditions with new working strategies to be able to survive. One strategy is to invest in health of its employees.

"We are still at the phase of disaster relief from the pandemic. At this phase the government must focus on three priorities, these are the health sector, social assistance program and efforts to support for small and medium enterprises," said Chatib Basri, Economist and Former Minister of Finance in a webinar on Wednesday (10/11).

Focus on COVID-19 handling to maintain low number of cases, as means to contribute to restoring fiscal stability, will slowly build back the country’s consumer markets for manufacturing goods to jobs related to their production.

Kazutoshi Chatani, ILO’s Employment Specialist, said that the efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at workplaces should be upscaled for businesses to remain in operation. “The world of work is changing rapidly. Many businesses accelerated the use of technologies to reduce face-to-face interactions. These changes pose a few questions to us on how the future work will be after the pandemic ends,” said Chatani.

Many businesses accelerated the use of technologies to reduce face-to-face interactions. These changes pose a few questions to us on how the future work will be after the pandemic ends."

Kazutoshi Chatani, ILO’s Employment Specialist
Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin; representative from Embassy of Japan Masato Usui; economist and former Finance Minister Chatib Basri; Epidemiologist from University of Indonesia Pandu Riono; Aloysius Budi Santoso of Astra International and Apindo; and Elly Rosita Silaban, President of the Confederation of All Indonesian Trade Union (KSBSI) join the webinar organized by the ILO’s Enhancing COVID-19 Prevention at and through Workplaces, a project funded by the Government of Japan.

Epidemiologist Pandu Riono is optimistic that the pandemic in Indonesia will soon become endemic where there will still be a transmission yet reduces the direct health facility burden in the country – this is seeing from the progress from the past two months that Indonesia has been able to suppress the impact of the pandemic. “We have succeeded in reducing the number of severe cases and fatalities,” said Pandu

Ministry of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin
Ministry of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin reminded that the process of re-opening the economy to normal still have a very high risk on public health. Occupational factors can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplaces therefore the infection prevention and control at the workplace can be the determinant of a successful outcome in COVID-19 handling.

Occupational factors can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplaces therefore the infection prevention and control at the workplace can be the determinant of a successful outcome in COVID-19 handling."

Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin
Elly Rosita Silaban, President of KSBSI said that to safeguard the labours, mutual effort between worker, government and employers is needed. Traditional employment relationship is outmoded thus enhancing collective bargaining is way forward in extending labour protection. “Labour must also take part in supporting the company they work to get back to running their business. Of course, workers must also comply to the health rules that have been set the company,” said Elly.

The pandemic has changed the working pattern and skills demand that become a challenge for Indonesia. Aloysius Budi Santoso, Astra International's Chief of Corporate Human Capital Development and Vice Chairperson of Apindo said that 70 percent Indonesia’s labour force are elementary to junior high-graduate. Low levels of education make it difficult for workers to survive in an industrial era that is heavily dominated by technology.

The digital skills gap in the SMEs sector is delaying small businesses attempt to implement new technology. “For them to catch up, we need the right strategy,” said Budi.

Employee collaboration in the new working pattern also considered better by 40 percent of respondents."

A survey conducted by Katadata Insight Center related to new working pattern to 368 respondents throughout Indonesia find that the implementation of distant or remote working is considered not entirely successful, whilst 37.5 percent of respondent find that the new working arrangement is a success.

Employee collaboration in the new working pattern also considered better by 40 percent of respondents. However, the 20 percent respondents’ perspectives on the success of a company’s effort to support remote work related to training is low, whereas they are likely to have a challenge in collaboration with colleagues and accessing information.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how crucial OSH is to protecting workers' health, for the functioning of our society, and for the continuity of critical economic and social activities. On optimizing the schedule for remote work, especially once the pandemic recedes, most respondents say companies should implement strict health protocols at the workplace and provide options to work remotely in a week, as the second most preferred schedule for the workweek.

The rise of remote work is spurring a nomadic trend among employees. Almost 70 percent of respondents say they are considering to live away from the office location for a while. As much as nearly 20 percent plan to move permanently from the office location and decide to work remotely.

The live streaming of the interactive discussion can be viewed on ILO TV Indonesia