In March 2020, a directive to work from home was issued due to the Covid-19 pandemic, catching both employers and employees off guard as it was implemented quickly in the country.
Research by Quantum-a training and consultancy firm that offers workplace management, reveals the findings of what both the employers and their staff felt about working from home.
The research, which was conducted on 815 respondents working from home during the pandemic reported several positive experiences, with the notable ones being: saving on commute time, more work-life balance, and more job satisfaction.
However, 30 percent of those interviewed stated that they had difficulties managing their teams remotely. While the upsides of working from home were well said, the respondents did state that they had too many Zoom meetings, they had no training on how to work from home, there were too many distractions and they did not have proper workspace at home.
“These were some of the downside issues reported by the respondents working from home. While the majority of all respondents in this study had not worked from home before Covid, the study shows that four out of five respondents would prefer to work from home post-Covid-19,” says the report.
The study findings show that Covid changed the perception of work and the workplace. “There is a definite preference for hybrid work model, especially for the millennial age category who make up 80 percent of the workforce in Kenya,” the report said.
Previous research suggests that millennials are digital natives, technology savvy, and need access to up-to-date technology, open communication, collaboration, and teamwork.
The study says three out of five respondents in the millennial age group of 20-39 years would be willing to change their job to work from home, with three out of five respondents in the same age group saying they missed working from their workplace during the Covid pandemic and in particular, they missed the social elements of the office.
The millennials, says the report, value telecommuting and seek positions that are partly remote or exclusively in which they can have a solid work-life balance as long as they are performing and getting their work done.
In Kenya, the Covid pandemic is very likely the reason why the millennials were able to experience a different work style that was not available to them pre-COVID. This new experience and the advantages of the remote work style are strongly reported in this study.
Over half of the respondents with management and supervisory responsibilities also reported that they had no issue managing their teams remotely.
The significant findings of this study may have implications for organizations, both in terms of work policies and management of their workplace post-COVID.
“Organisations in Kenya and the region will need to rethink the traditional work policies and how they manage their workplaces if they want to attract, engage and retain the productive, satisfied, and high performing workforce to gain competitive advantage for their business success,” says the report.
This study suggests that organisations consider a hybrid model of workstyle with attention to providing up-to-date technology, controlling the number of Zoom meetings, and training staff on how to be more effective working from home, including how to set up a proper workspace and manage distractions at home.
The findings note that working from the workplace will also be an important element of the hybrid work model, though, in some organisations, it may not be possible to work remotely given the nature of their work, pointing out that attention should be paid to workplace design and management to create positive staff experience at the workplace.
“This will make the staff want to come to work at the workplace and not because they have to. Specific attention be paid to providing different workspaces for different work activities,” Alf Nathoo, the study researcher and author.
He said a hybrid work policy might also help reduce an organization’s corporate real estate cost with a reduced number of staff at the workplace. Downsizing and saving on operating costs can help an organization to re-invest in new features and workplace amenities to help improve staff experience.