16 Jun, 2020 Last updated: 11 Mar, 2021

Our new research report 'Getting back to work' suggests ways to make work benefit everyone in the aftermath of coronavirus

Author: VicHealth, a Victorian Government Agency that works with experts, evidence and research in health promotion

Any coronavirus information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was first published (16 June 2020). For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus restrictions, please visit the source: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au


We partnered with Deakin University and the University of South Australia to explore how we can make work better for everyone in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

The research report is part of our new five-part series Life and Health Re-imagined, which is all about how to create a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable community – for everyone. Because right now, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-shape our future for the better.


We can seize this moment to re-build a better future

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the way we work. 

Many in our community have lost jobs or income. Others have had to juggle work with caring for family members, and working from home has become the new norm for lots of people.

While this has been challenging, coronavirus has given us an opportunity to figure out how to make jobs and work better for everyone.

Below are four ideas researchers believe could make our jobs work for all of us.


Prioritise equal opportunity for everyone

The pandemic has made it very clear that not everyone has access to safe, stable work conditions, with people who are already facing disadvantage being the least likely to have job security and fair conditions.

Everyone should have an equal opportunity for good working conditions.

This includes:

  • sick leave
  • job security
  • reasonable workloads and other job demands
  • job control

Having these conditions not only improves the health and wellbeing of workers, but helps our whole community cope better with the impact of crises such as coronavirus.


Safe and healthy workplaces

Female worker sitting at a desk in an office

Work needs to be safe and healthy - both the physical conditions and the effect on our mental health and wellbeing.

The research shows before coronavirus only 52 per cent of Australian workers reported that their workplace was psychologically healthy, work pressure was increasing, and bullying rates were high. 

All employers need to make future workplaces safer and healthier. This includes enabling businesses to better support the mental health and wellbeing of employees, as well as supporting those facing job loss or underemployment.


Sustainable work-life balance


We need to see work demands in the context of the current reality.


We need to be able to manage our workload and working hours in a sustainable way so people don’t burn out.

The demand and rewards of work need to be fairly balanced, and we need to able to balance work with other aspects of our life.


Environmental sustainability

Male chef in kitchen

In 2020 and beyond, thinking about how jobs and employment can support (and not harm) the environment is essential.

This means re-thinking work that provides shared social, health, and environmental benefits - not just money, competition and profits.


More about the research behind these suggestions

The research paper on getting back to work is part of our new five-part series Life and Health Re-imagined.

Starting on Monday 15 June, we're exploring how we can all create a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable community – for everyone. We’re bringing leading experts together for five weeks of ideas and discussions with the potential to change the shape of communities across Victoria.

Each week will include:

  • A new, thought-provoking article and creative imagery published every Monday morning.
  • A live, interactive online event featuring local and international guests, and host Virginia Trioli for the first few sessions and Shelley Ware for the others.
  • Week-long coverage and in-depth discussion of the ideas on croakey.org
  • Ongoing conversation on our social media channels.

Learn more here, and follow #HealthReImagined on social media.