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The Shifting Workplace: How to Change Before Change Happens

Image by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

As the world scrambles to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the dramatic impact on billions of people is only beginning to be felt. This feels like a watershed moment.

2020 may well go down as a year that marked a decisive shift in human history. Perhaps comparable to what 1952 was to the struggle for Kenya’s right to self-determination – which as it happens, is the only other time a state of emergency swept up the country. And who can forget the whirlwind dot-com bubble year of 2000? A year which also introduced Kenyans to a little-known company called Safaricom that went on to completely change our collective lifestyles.

Make no mistake, the world will forever change post-pandemic. This COVID-19 pandemic has put our modern systems under heavy scrutiny; from healthcare to education, and supply chains to safety net programs. It has unfortunately taken a harsh situation for us to realize that maybe our way of doing things isn’t as smart, and as efficient as we thought.

The business world especially has been brutally exposed, with its wobbly infrastructure crumbling to a dusty demise in front of the world to see. Even giant corporations once thought too big to fail, have been forced to contemplate their own mortality. As an employer, this may be a good time to reflect and anticipate what the future of your workplace may look like once the inevitable shift occurs. After all, you don’t want to be like the last stubborn horse salesman who thought cars were just a passing fad.

The future of the workplace will absolutely be defined by the needs of the next wave employees– predominantly millennials and the incoming Gen Zers. So it would be wise to observe the working behaviours of this group for signs of where the workplace is headed.

Remote working easily jumps out as one of the more obvious workplace shifts waiting to happen. I’m yet to meet a boss who hasn’t gotten jittery at the mention of “working from home.” What this quarantine period has proven though, is that we do have the technology and wherewithal to telework successfully.

Already, 90% of millennial workers supported the idea of remote working, even if just for two days a week. I imagine that number is closer to 100% post-coronavirus. However, many young workers report being anxious about the stigma attached to the idea of working from home, even when sick. It follows then that the companies that provide such opportunities in future will quickly attract the best talent in the market.

So how do you provide room for this inevitable future way of working at your company? Invest in building a culture of trust, as well as equipment to support remote working for your employees i.e. laptops, access to broadband, and teleconferencing apps like Slack. Set deadlines and strict reporting guidelines for tasks, and adopt an open communication management style.

You may also consider changing the employee’s working arrangements. According to research, the average worker is productive for two hours and 53 minutes. That’s right! In Nairobi, that’s about the same amount of time one spends in rush hour traffic either side of a workday. A lot of productive time is lost staring at roadside billboards. And, let’s face it, Nairobi’s public transport problem isn’t getting fixed soon, so it’s only wise that you fix what’s in your control. Where your business allows for it, offer some flexibility in how employees structure their workday to get the maximum out of their productive hours.

In the post-coronavirus world, it’s looking increasingly likely that the relationship between employer and employee will be built on good faith more than anything else.

What else can your business do to build a successful and healthy organization moving forward? Leave your comment below.


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4 responses to “The Shifting Workplace: How to Change Before Change Happens”

  1. […] But can we find any wisdom from the perspective of the millennial though? What if the perceived nonchalance is a Sisyphus rock-sized tool for survival and adaptation? Perhaps even an attitude that can be adopted by those in the older generation, who may be silently scared by the potential repercussions of this pandemic? It goes to the core of life. And business too. […]

  2. […] particularly important to try and plan for the long term and not just tomorrow. In my article The Shifting Workplace: How to Change Before Change Happens, I argued that the world will forever change post-pandemic with remote working as a result of […]

  3. […] reaction to change either sets us apart or condemns us to the gallows. The same disaster may strike two different […]

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