One of the most important spheres that have come under exceptional pressure in the face of the pandemic is the world of work. From paid work in different sectors and at different levels of the social structure, to the unpaid work, the relationship between private life and work, the organisation of work, the question of the quality of work itself and the quality of the workplace, the context of the pandemic crisis has left a clear mark on the academic debate centred on this issue. Some industries have undergone rapid intensification (logistics, medical, ecommerce, gig economy), some have had to undergo drastic reorganisation (the introduction of remote working primarily in the education industry) and some have been hit by an exceptionally sharp recession (catering, hospitality, fitness).
It is difficult at this point to pinpoint a clear direction of change in the post-pandemic world, although the growing importance of the sharing economy, increased control over workers, a further shift away from permanent forms of employment, or an increasing number of workers seconded to work from home are all predicted. One of the key questions is how the pandemic will leave its mark on labour mobilisation processes. On the one hand, it may weaken the position of classical trade unions; on the other, it may contribute to increased awareness among the employed themselves.
In this paper I will focus on three industries (education, healthcare and logistics) which are the basis for the COV-WORK research project focused on the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic for the world of work in Poland. On the basis of focus group interviews, expert and biographical interviews, and using discourse analysis of selected Polish media (newspapers and news portals), I will analyse, on the one hand, the course of the pandemic modifying the work environment in mentioned branches. On the other, the main directions of the debate related to their predictable future and labour market in general. My theoretical framework is Hartmut Rosa’s concept of acceleration and its application to the analysis of the empirical material. It is argued that in addition to acceleration, the impact of pandemic on the world of work can be discussed in terms of slowing down, initiating and blocking. Each of them will be analysed regarding empirical material collected in the COV-WORK project.