It is no more news that the world of work is changing; no thanks to Covid-19; the emergence of the global pandemic. The way we work has changed and the way we do business has been affected. The Human resources experts have chosen a new way of recruiting, the staff have chosen a new way of turning in their job expectations. This is what I call the NEW Productivity. It has come to stay and this is for the good of both the employees and employers of labour. One of the major shifts in the world of work is Remote Working; working from home or outside the physical office is the new normal. This new system has so many benefits that we cannot shy away from.
Remote work allows social distance amongst staff which keeps them away from physical and social contacts. The health of the worker is secured to a high degree when they work from home. Another important reason for remote work is that it reduces the complaints of road-traffic delays. Many workers come late to work in a busy town because of traffic but this will be eradicated when the staff work from home. Remote working also allows for family bonding; staff will be more available at home rather than spending long hours in the office on a normal day. Also, it is very convenient for staff to work from home since they may not need to wake up early for work.
However, there are challenges that workers face working from home and if care is not taken this good option can be counter-productivity. One big challenge for Africa is power (electricity supply) when there is no power supply, how can you work comfortably from home. No power to charge the laptop, no power to charge the phone, no power to put on the fan or air conditional system. Another important factor that makes remote work a success is internet connection. In Africa, there are many workers who cannot afford internet data or sometimes the network fluctuates; resulting in difficulties in sending documents or failure at the delivery end and this can be very frustrating.
Furthermore, it is not only power and internet data that are the challenges to remote work, another challenge is that working from home can come with a lot of distractions from family, visiting friends, phones and televisions etc. Some workers believe that they work 24 hours while working from home rather than 8 hours when they work in the office. The Boss can call anytime or you can be on a particular work for a whole day to be delivered the next day. Also, very important challenge is that not all the staff working from home has appropriate tools/resources to work with; Laptop, smartphones and so on, when these tools are not available, remote working becomes a fluke.
In conclusion, in as much as working from home can increase productivity, there are responsibilities from the employers of labour and employees to ensure that this new way of work delivers value to the organisation. For employees to maximise productivity through remote working, they must fight distraction, have clear goals/focus each day. Staff must be disciplined enough to set “office time” and adhere to the time even if they are working from home. Phones to be properly managed and unwanted visitors must be curtailed during the “office hours” Workers must constantly do a personal evaluation to assess their performance and adjust if the space is not working as expected.
For Employers of labour or management who expect maximum productivity through remote working rather than physical office must take note of the following; The organisation must provide the tools the workers will use to work from home i.e laptop, smartphones and install the relevant software on those devices. They can further help to set up an office space in the house with office tables and internet facility. Power generation or alternative power supply must be provided for the staff so that there is no break in the workflow when the organisation is urgently on the wait for a job. Finally, the HR must set up objectives for the week and remotely monitor staff performance.
I believe the future of the workplace will be remote work; where many organisations will be having staff all over the world and talents hunts shall all be by remote option. Organisations should be ready to take advantage of great talents scattered all over the world. Individuals should be ready to tap into this “new normal” advantage and earn more in different currencies of the world by upskilling, cross-skilling, reskilling and “Plus-skilling”. Individuals must prepare for personal branding and global communication skills to be able to stand out of the crowd. With these above, I believe the new productivity; remote work will be of great impact on the global economy
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Remi Dairo President, Institute of Productivity and Business Innovation Management (IPBIM) Africa