Crises have always had a way of changing the way we look at things, be it at the societal, organisational or individual level.
It is now obvious to all of us that the Covid-19 pandemic will forever remain in the history books as one the most devastating crises with far-reaching negative impacts on the global health and economy.
One of the key public health responses to the pandemic is social distancing – avoiding large groups of people in close quarters to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus, which causes Covid-19.
Along with suspended sporting activities, the closure of schools and churches and a ban on religious gatherings, the social-distancing measure may end up bringing about a lasting benefit for organisations requiring people to work from home.
The idea of working from home is not new, especially in developed countries. However, this is not the case in developing countries, which face challenges such as high internet costs and lack of necessary equipment such as laptops.
Locally, only a handful of companies, mainly information technology (IT), multinational and blue-chip companies, were able to partially implement work-from-home policies before the Covid-19 outbreak.
According to the 2016 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Economic Survey, micro, small and medium enterprises were estimated to contribute about 28.5 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Despite their immense potential to contribute to the economy, these enterprises lack access to the necessary structures and investment to implement work-from-home policies.
The BrighterMonday Millennial Report reveals that although many professionals in Kenya prefer companies that offer flexibility as opposed to rigid structures, its implementation has been stifled by factors such as high internet costs, reduced collaboration with team members and lack of necessary equipment such as computers, internet connectivity and stable power supply.
Despite these challenges, companies will need to fast-track digital transformation to maintain effective operations now and in the future as they adapt to the unprecedented changes to business operations brought about by Covid-19.
Firms must rethink their operations, employee productivity and business continuity.
As working from home becomes a reality, it is crucial for employers to ensure proper infrastructure is set up to accommodate a remotely located workforce.
In addition, businesses require working-from-home systems for company operations and management of employees for business continuity.
Determining each employee’s skills and role, key performance indicators and deliverables for the job to be done become key. This will help them to identify their needs and how to facilitate their performance.
A major concern on the need for remote work is information privacy and data protection. This is a good time to implement IT policies that are well understood by staff and installing firewall software on laptops and other devices.
Ensuring that employees adhere to data protection policies is a new obligation for companies. Emphasis must be made that equipment provided to employees for remote work is for official company business only.
The basic care package to work from home includes access to computers, internet and data bundles.
The Covid-19 outbreak has tested the world’s way of life and is proof of how life can change within an instant. Businesses that will survive are those that will quickly adapt and make use of available technology to ensure continuity.
The writer is the chief executive officer at BrighterMonday Kenya.