How Covid-19 Pandemic Transformed the Workplace

Father Working From Home With Child on His Back

Father Working From Home With Child on His Back PHOTO:

Working from home (WFH) is now a reality for many companies and employees.  

Companies and industries have adapted themselves to a revamped way of working.  The ripple effect was how parents would balance taking care of their children, longer working hours, and psychological stress. 

In an April survey administered remotely through GeoPoll’s mobile-based research platform, it was found that 80 per cent of respondents were frightened about coronavirus spreading in their countries, but 71 per cent said they were also ‘very concerned’ about its economic impact.  

The survey which reached more than two-thirds of over 4,500 Africans across 12 countries reported that they were self-quarantining to prevent the risks and spread of coronavirus.  

During the period, different businesses opted to offer flexible working options to staff. As a result, flexible hours, fewer commutes or business trips, and splitting time between the home and office each week become the new normal.  

Consequently, it resulted in negative effects. For instance,  a June report by Geopoll found out that more than three-quarters of polled Africans – in Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Africa- reported income falls due to COVID-19.  

Four out of five of those polled in the survey of 2,500 respondents, reported that their income had decreased during the pandemic, with those in informal jobs, particularly in trade and agriculture, reporting the most widespread and largest falls in incomes.  

“The closure of borders, restrictions on movements, and suspended education and hospitality sectors has wrought financial havoc across the African nations studied, with those in informal employment being hardest hit,” said Roxana Elliott, VP Marketing & Content, GeoPoll. 

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism titled Journalism, Media and Technology Trends 2021, “Lockdowns and other restrictions have broken old habits and created new ones, but it is only this year (2021) that we’ll discover how fundamental those changes have been. While many of us crave a return to ‘normal’, the reality is likely to be different as we emerge warily into a world where the physical and virtual coexist in new ways.”  

76 per cent of media industry respondents in the study stated that the pandemic accelerated their plans for digital transition and transformed business plans to include more remote working.  

“For giant tech platforms, the pandemic has forced a rethink on where the limits of free speech should lie. New technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) will also drive greater efficiency and automation across many industries including publishing this year.”  

On the other hand, Kenya Electricity Generating Company’s (KenGen) workers had to work in shifts or from home as one way of protecting staff from Covid-19.  

Growth in the broadband industry was catalyzed with the rising dependence on reliable internet connections for the citizenry at home amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Sector Statistics Report for the First Quarter of the 2020/21 Financial Year. 

 Internet Subscriptions increased by 4.8% to reach 43.45 million subscribers in the last quarter. Total broadband subscriptions significantly increased by 8.6% translating to more than 2.5 million new subscriptions. Total available international bandwidth (Gbps) also surged, complemented by a rise in total used international bandwidth (Gbps) by 14.2%. 

Moving into 2021, businesses believe that a hybrid work model, which is a mix of physical and remote working, will be embraced. 

Some companies and organisations have already come up with WFH policy for employees, balancing essential roles for their team members while following all safety protocols. 

Other firms are reassessing the set of skills and competencies in the ‘now normal’ mode of operation.