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COVID-19 is dividing our culture: frontline vs working from home


What we’re experiencing

COVID-19 is impacting our culture and our ability to deliver as best we can under tough circumstances.

The requirement for many organisations to have some people continuing to deliver on the “frontline” and others working from home can have some unintended results.

  • Some people on the frontline may feel resentment toward those working from home (& vice versa)
  • This can be passively or overtly felt and displayed, thus creating additional stress or angst
  • Our leaders are trying to respond as best they can, but may be uncertain of the best way forward

COVID-19 is not just a disease that infects people physically. The neurological impact of working from home has the ability to impact all of our threat triggers if it is not proactively managed.

This article explains why this may be happening and provides practical steps that can be taken to reduce the spread of this impact.

How frontline vs working from home can activate a threat response

As humans we process 11 million bits of information per second.  Normally, we can manage this, but the nature of information we’re processing has never been as threatening as it is today.

In a pandemic that is literally threatening everyone right now, our human reaction is more likely to perceive information as threatening than reassuring.  This is unhelpful because anyone who is experiencing such threat will display the following to some degree:

So how do I know it’s happening and then what can I do about it?

To help understand what triggers our threat response and what this looks like for people working from home vs on the front-line we have used the SCARF model (Rock, 2008).




It’s easy to see why people are so threatened by COVID-19 so how do we help reduce the divide emerging between people in the frontline and working from home.  What can you do?

It makes sense, so what can we actually do to help!?

Leveraging the same understanding as to why people feel the way they do, we can apply strategies to help our entire workforce feel safer than they currently are.

Here are some practical tactics that can be used:



Implementing the above tactics will enable leaders to have the confidence and ability to respond to people’s expression of resentment with a genuine level of empathy and confidence along the lines of

“We are united in our efforts and everyone is doing all that they can right now… can we talk some more to make sure you are OK right now?”

Connect with us

Need more information or help implementing strategies? Contact us here and a Mapien Consultant will be in touch within 24 hours!

Written by
Blake Redding
Blake’s consulting career as a psychologist has been inspired by his passion for people development and a fascination with how people impact an organisation’s performance and success. His broad business and industry experience, combined with the application of psychometric assessment measures and a focus on improving employee performance and retention, has allowed Blake to work in every arena of human resources.