Corona Virus propelling organisations to adopt the future of work practices

As imposition of travel restrictions is strife organizations’ supply chains are being affected worldwide. African businesses are not left out in this chaos. Business executives are panicking as they are forced to restrategize, procurement teams are disturbed as they are running short of required goods or supplies, the HR department is also caught up in the mix as they are faced with calculating future possible loss of hours of productivity as there is a looming threat of country lockdowns and not to mention their inability to send their people out of the country for skills training or better yet bringing in consultants to train them in-house as is the tradition in many corporates. Business operations have been hampered to a greater extent.

It may have been reported that China has managed to contain the virus but out of China the virus seems to be spreading like a veld fire. More and more countries are beginning to enforce travel restrictions and they are preventing foreign nationals who may have visited China and / other affected countries such as Italy from entering into their countries. We are seeing countries pulling out of the Olympics, face to face meetings and conferences are being cancelled. The health scare is far from over, in other countries its reality is just dawning. Nigeria reported its first case a  week ago (28 February) and less than a week after on March 5  South Africa reported its first case, hence Africa is under threat.

With our already struggling economies which have resulted in failing health systems our countries need to take serious precautionary measures to prevent the virus from spreading. Quoting Bill Gates, should the epidemic spread in Africa it could wipe at-least 10 million people. That’s a big number to lose in a continent of a population of 1.2 billion.

Now with COVDI-19 making its way to the continent and travel being disrupted, investing in online platforms may not be a project for the distant future after all . As opposed to losing hours of productivity and risking contracting the life threatening virus during travel, employers need to create enabling digital environments where their staff attend webinars and online conferences and get to learn from their office desks or even at home. Online training enables voluminous training and comes through as a cost effective measure at the end of the day.

Futurists have instigated that the future of work will see a booming of the gig economy. This is a practice whereby some professionals will no longer be employed at full time basis but will be working per projects just as what we see independent consultants do. Hence the same person may be holding various projects (jobs) at several organizations at the same time. This practice promotes flexible working. As organizations are becoming more global they will not be limited by geographic locations to hire skill, an organization in Eswatini can hire a web developer/ Graphics designer stationed in Kenya and the employee can work remotely in the comfort of their homes or wherever they are all they need is internet connectivity and the required software platforms for virtual working. The Corona virus is leaving employers with no choice but to explore this practice as it will enable employers to work from home as they self isolate and thus preventing the organization from losing hours to unproductivity.

Should the virus hit home are you prepared to have your staff work remotely? Will you be able to still develop/train your staff and will you able to deliver on your training plans and reach your L&D targets? How prepared is your organization in such an outbreak? It’s high time organizations invest in digital workplaces, these practices are no longer for the distant future. The future is already here, the future is now.

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