Coronavirus and opportunity to embrace Telecommuting in Nigeria

Telecommuting simply means work from home with the use of information technology; phone, internet.
Telecommuting has been around for a while. Some stay home moms and dads have been exploring it as a preferred alternative to the traditional office work. Now they can have a career from the comfort of their homes awhile having more time to spend with to raise their children .

Neither is telecommuting new in Nigeria as it is common among Techies and the generation X. With the shift to E-Commerce, and the take over of social media, businesses employ digital marketers and social media managers who will handle their online presence. They can work remotely, with a good laptop, phone and good internet connection. Nigeria has started embracing some changes in the work space, now we have shared offices, companies with flexible work hours and more fun workplace but still limited to the IT Community .

In the the wake of Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, now declared pandemic by the World Health Organisatiion (WHO), the world is shifting to the next level of work style- Telecommuting. Offices, schools and public spaces (except obviously the hospitals) are being shut down to contain the outbreak of COVID-19. Sports meetings and public gathering are being cancelled. Stock prices are crashing the markets are plunging, there’s panic buying and fear of the unknown all around. The mortality rate of COVID-19 is rather low compared to other viruses that we have experienced however I doubt if any has traveled far and wide and making it a global concern like this. Surprisingly Africa is being spared, we have just about less than a 100 cases in the whole of Africa, and 1 death recorded.

As earlier stated this pandemic has given rise to more discussions on working remotely. Companies are setting up modalities for staff to be able to work remotely, infact schools in China have started distant learning nationwide. Should we look at trying this out in Nigeria? At least in our major cities? There are a lot of jobs that can be done from home, some meetings can be held over the phone or through video conferencing. For someone who lives and works in Lagos, who spends 3-6 hours commuting every week day, I would gladly advocate for telecommuting for Lagosians who’s job position and work descriptions can accommodate it. Federal Government wants to cut expenses? Conduct meetings outside ABUJA via video conference. If a company staff is being transferred to another state, such person can telecommute and visit once a while, this will help in stabilizing the family, as relocation involves changing of schools for the children and searching for new job for the spouse.

We need good and affordable internet access and phone network to achieve this, employees can work together, have meetings real time. In a peculiar country like Nigeria, we have to include constant electricity. This will help increase productivity and general health and wellbeing of Nigerians. Traffic will reduce drastically as people will only commute when necessary. Nursing mothers can confidently work and take proper care of their children. The physically challenged can work efficiently without fear of discrimination and impediment to their movement around town.

It seems impossible but people in Covid-19 affected countries are currently working from home, students are also learning from home.
I think it’s about time to look at exploring telecommuting in Nigeria.

By Yetunde follow on Twitter @toluolori

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