Coronavirus and evolution of the workplace

The concept of working from home (WFH) has been on the table, in boardrooms, forums, social networks and even pub hangouts in recent years.

The agenda for this concept is mostly promoted by tech entrepreneurs and creatives who, by personality and skills-orientation, demand flexibility and autonomy to achieve deliverables.

Truth is, digital transformation in the corporate environment has made it imperative that business leaders put the conversation on the front burner.

There is no over-emphasizing the fact that more and more, entrepreneurial employees view freelancing as a way to experience WFH, and all the so-called benefits it comes with - flexibility, multiple income streams, freedom ---and the list goes on and on and on, depending on who you speak with.

So even as big businesses consider the pros and cons of WFH, which freelancers, and small business owners have championed over the past couple of years, fate, or/and, if you like, biological warfare - if you listen to the conspiracy theorists, have conspired to bring the urgency of advocacy for WFH forward.

Businesses are, all of a sudden, confronted with the reality of remote working.

Collaborative platforms and tools alike Google Meet, Skype, Zoom, even WhatsApp, which have been dormant and redundant on most devices, are being considered as short to long term solutions to a possible disruption of business hours as we know them.

Now canteen chit-chats will replace video conferencing from the kitchen.

Slack conversations will replace in-person brainstorms.

In short, the way we work will be dramatically disrupted by coronavirus.

Interesting, it's an unwitting endeavour for businesses to test-drive the WFH concept, and come to grips with the potential pitfalls, and and also prepare to launch into the real of digital transformation.

Already some progressive brands and businesses have dipped a toe in the waters:

  • According to FastCompany, Nobl Academy, GitLab, and Zapier all have guides for developing best remote-work practices, which might be helpful if your company doesn’t have a formal work-from-home practice. 
  • In Ghana, the UNDP and UNICEF has shut the offices, until Wednesday, 18th March, due to employee infections, and also, to perhaps, test their readiness for a worse case scenario - https://bit.ly/2IMREZw.

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It is obvious that coronavirus is impacting, not just, socio-economic trends, but also how the future of work will unravel.

For mass market businesses, I predict a rapid growth in the utilization of on-demand applications to deliver products and services to consumers, and a general digitization of work processes, even when this frenzied saga dies down.

JungleWorks, a leader in on-demand workplace and consumer applications have shared insightful nuggets about how marketplaces are experiencing sales boosts in this era of coronavirus - https://bit.ly/2x3rMpn

Businesses, after weeks and month of testing WFH, will find some nuggets to help craft working environments and conditions that will attract millennial and GenZ talents to work for them.

They will start looking for digital talent to champion the digitization processes in their businesses, and also start budgeting and investing in the industry 4.0 tools and platforms required to engage the employer for he future.

We are living interesting times, and the workplace will experience a disruption that will feel very surreal for employees who have been conditioned to work from familiar stationary positions. And therein lies the challenge. For people used to in-person collaborations, WFH may present a clear and present danger of lack of motivation, confusion and its resultant unproductiveness.

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Businesses considering WFH, therefore, need a clear policy that helps to orientate and onboard their employees who have been penciled to work remotely. This guidelines, from www.inc.com will be good start to exploring ways to remain effective, working from home.

Organizations that are at the cutting-edge of empowering digital work places include IBM. In this video: https://youtu.be/QRzsHQfukHg, Richard Esposito, general manager of IBM Digital Workplace Services, discusses current digital workplace trends and explains how IBM helps clients modernize the workplace with a comprehensive suite of enterprise mobility services.

In concluding, the appetite for a dramatic adoption of digital processes by businesses in Ghana, will grow exponentially.

By the time coronavirus is done with us, which is more a case of when than if, the reluctance with which conservative businesses view digitization and by extension, WFH, will have been greatly diminished.

Coronavirus is disrupting the way businesses are operating, and delivering their products and services. I predict the workplace will not be the same, even when we see the end of this pandemic. - Kofi Asante, Digital Evangelist