Is remote work the future of African businesses?

POSTED Jun 9, 2020 BY Carol Green

Remote working is no longer a novel concept, it's becoming the new normal. In JobnetAfrica's guest blog by Carol Green she dives deeper into whether remote work is the future of African businesses. Data curated by Media Update notes that 44% of global companies have embraced the remote workforce. In Africa alone, a growing number of companies are employing a telecommuting policy, and many more are expected to follow suit. This is mostly because the financial benefits of telecommuting are too significant to ignore — it's cheaper to hire someone working from home than to bring an employee in-house. Not to mention, a remote work setup is also known to improve the overall well-being of workers.

However, there are still companies that have never dipped their toes into remote working and are unfamiliar to what it can bring to the table. For businesses that are looking into adopting this work setup, here are some factors that should be considered:

Cybersecurity should be a top concern

Having to work from home means that you do not have the protection of your office network. Home networks are much more vulnerable, given that they are easily hackable by cybercriminals. How We Made It In Africa suggests that companies make security part of the culture of their organisation. Doing so will encourage employees to remain alert and notify IT of any suspicious behaviours they may notice. It's also vital that all employee devices are updated with the latest security software, as well as ensure that updates are being done regularly, with the threat of being booted from the networks if the updates are not applied.

The health benefits are undeniable

The Economist notes that the lack of commute help employees avoid working past the end of the business day. The flexible hours may also seem counterproductive, but it allows workers to choose to work whenever they feel the most productive, resulting in fewer distractions and promote focus. In addition, Pain Free Working explains how most office workers tend to spend more than 7 hours sitting at their desks, putting them at risk for early mortality. As a remote worker, having the freedom to perform stretches, leave your desk, or even go on workouts midday, can help you fight off a sedentary lifestyle, given that you're not chained to an office desk 9 to 5.

There will be an increased focus on digital communication

Digital communication is of utmost importance in a remote work environment. Since people in the organisation can't meet face to face, there must be increased communication to update about progress, setbacks, and other concerns. She Leads Africa says that building systems that allow workers to remain on the same page and maintain productivity are ideal. Encourage everyone to connect with the platforms you use and update them regularly. You may also want to consider setting up communal virtual lunches or happy hours to keep the team dynamic.

A change in mindset is needed

Transitioning to remote work is easier said than done. Business Tech posits that if you're going to make the switch, the meeting mentality needs to change. For instance, if someone were to host a virtual meeting, setting an agenda, figuring out who should be involved, and estimating the duration of the meeting may make them realise that an hour's worth of meeting isn't needed — or there may not even be a need for a meeting at all.

There's no doubt that remote work is the future, and companies that are considering this set up must carefully study the benefits along with its potential setbacks.

 

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