For employers who believe that workers have to clock in in the office and be under supervision the entire working day are in for a huge shock.
With the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, the world of work is shifting from what has been the norm for many who are used to the 8-5 routine in an office where everyone is easily under the same roof.
In a recent survey, trust issues between workers and their bosses and lack of supervision are among worries that managers expressed as the hiccup in the implementation of remote working.
“There is mistrust in some employers. Some supervisors, perhaps because they feel they must be in control or don’t trust their workers, are uncomfortable having employees work offsite,” the survey, titled The COVID-19 pandemic and the Kenyan workplace notes.
However, in spite of such teething problems, the survey conducted by human resources consulting firm Corporate Staffing Services revealed that nearly three-quarters of the employers said they would like to entrench the work-from-home culture in their organizations once the novel coronavirus pandemic is over.
The presidential directive on March 15 urging employers to allow their employees change their workstations to their home environments to help curb the spread of the global pandemic has been implemented by over half of employers, with 65.5% having obeyed the order according to the survey findings, as the public health situation in the country faces a never seen before challenge.
“Whichever way you look at it, the coronavirus has disrupted the workplace,” adds Corporate Staffing Services managing partner Perminus Wainaina.
The survey which involved a total of 1,830 employees and 258 employers from various sectors in the country revealed that employers never prepared their staff for such an eventuality, hence employees lack the right training and capacity to fulfil their duties effectively.
Employers also felt that there is less supervision when a staff member has to work off-site, giving leeway to poorly done work, which in effect would mean repeating the task and wasting time while at it.
They also felt that the staff are less productive while working at home.
Of those who have not implemented the president’s order, 68% indicated that lack of supervision structures left them no option than to require their employees to physically show up at work. Only 21% said their work falls in the essential services category meaning the staff must be present at work.
The secret lies in the continual training of both employees and employers to ensure a smooth transition to remote working, Wainaina says.
“There is need for proper training not only on the technical i.e how to use the gadgets but also skills such as discipline. There’s also need to ensure that there is an infrastructure to support the employee,” he says.
It’s interesting to note that many businesses have no business continuity plan, a strategy that gives direction to a company or business on its work processes in the event of some unforeseen calamity. The survey found out that only a fifth of the respondents had such a plan, at 21.4% or 69 of the respondents.
A business continuity plan helps organizations recover after an interruption such as a fire, natural disaster, and now the covid-19.
On the other hand, employees are facing teething problems in settling to work from home.
They mentioned a lack of essential tools such as laptops and a reliable internet connection to enable smooth working. Lack of internet and distraction from family members competed for the highest challenges to working from home at 23.4% and 22.6% respectively.
Workers also felt that the lack of a structure to direct remote working was a problem, with 14.6% of respondents feeling overwhelmed. Overall, the survey revealed that work-life after the pandemic will undoubtedly never be the same.
Employers must plan early to equip their workforce to not only be digital-first but to be able to effectively use these digital tools to deliver on targets.
Training will, therefore, be inevitable for managers, supervisors, team members, and management need to start working on policies that will inform the workplace of the future.