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Could Coronavirus Change the Future of Work?

  May 22, 2020

Covid-19 the contagious respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus continues to spread worldwide. With the rapid transmission of this virus in our country, we must help slow the spread in our communities.

A massive cultural work change could happen soon as people continue to embrace work from home. Companies might be seen adopting new policies for its employees to split work that could be done in the office and work that could be done from home. As employees now juggle the pressure of work life and home life all in the same place, rules about workers starting and ending their days at the set time 8 am – 5 pm working hours could be a thing of the past. Now that work is done virtually, meetings may soon be replaced with emails and video calls depending on the nature of the meetings.

On May 12th, 2020, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced to his employees that they could continue to work from home even after the pandemic should they see it fit. He however noted that the move had been accelerated by the Covid-19 stay at home orders. Other major tech firms including Facebook and Google have extended their work from home policies through the end of the year.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) census report, just one in five Kenyans has access to the internet and only 3.7 percent of the country’s population engages in e-commerce. The data also shows that 22.6 percent of individuals aged 3 years and above used the internet while 10.4 percent used a computer. The proportion of the population aged 15 years and above who searched and bought goods and services online was 4.3 percent. 

In a bid to close the digital gap in Kenya amidst the pandemic the President introduced the Google Loon balloons project. The Google Loon balloons will hover on Kenya’s airspace to provide faster internet, the initiative will help learners access digital learning materials and those working from home to go about their work with fewer difficulties. Loon company equipment works by beaming Internet connectivity from ground stations to a balloon 20km overhead. From there, the signal can be sent across multiple balloons, creating a network of floating cell towers that deliver connectivity directly to a user’s LTE-enabled device below.

Telecommuting could become a major norm, this could see companies cut budgets on business trips. As the social distancing measure has now been adopted globally, the volume of business trips has decreased. Kenyans were urged by the National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) to consider adopting telecommuting measures – Telecommuting or teleworking refers to a work arrangement in which employees do not commute or travel to a central place of work and are mandated to work from home. It is recommended as one of the most effective approaches to reducing the spread of COVID-19. These measures were for those jobs that could easily be managed from home. 

The workplace could become more equitable for women. More women will be seen remaining in the workforce and not quitting work to look after children and families as they try balancing work and family duties from home. Roughly 31% of women who took a career break after having kids said they didn’t want to but had to because of a lack of employer flexibility, according to a 2019 FlexJobs survey of more than 2,000 women with children under 18.

Mandatory medical screening in organizations will also see employees being subjected to a routine they will embrace in the future, along with security checks before entering a building temperature checks will also be adopted. This is already happening in most public places in the country like supermarkets, malls, and restaurants.



Article by Maureen Bundi

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