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The Future of Work: Working Remotely or Hybrid System?

The Future of Work
Written by Janet Machuka

Every industry has been affected by the pandemic in different ways. From laying off some workers to allowing remote working, virtual meetings due to social distancing in order to reduce further spread of Corona Virus. In this article, Fuzu Kenya was featured on a report they launched, The Future of Work.

Changes in Working Model

The Future of Work report revealed professional services and roles like accounting, consulting and data processing have the greatest potential to work from home. Only 12% of employees in this space have returned fully to the office.

This is expected to be a long-term trend as 67% of the professional services workforce will transition to remote working arrangements within the next two years. Overall, 43% of organizations are currently employing flexible working models, with large variations by industry.

For example 70% of the workforce in the manufacturing industry has fully returned back to the office and 23% returning for most of the week. In Africa, 67% of the Future of Work respondents reported to be either fully or mostly back to the office.

Infographic – Exhibit 1 

Challenges of Working from Home

The Future of Work report revealed that internet connectivity and inaccessibility of work tools ranked as the highest barriers to productivity by creating a poor remote-work environment.

Work-from-home burnout has been a common challenge for most people too. Not knowing how to differentiate between personal and work life and lack of social contact with your colleagues can be contributing factors.

Infograhic: Exhibit 2

Working fully remotely Vs Working fully from the office or a Hybrid system

Remote working breeds a sense of responsibility and ownership to a certain level with less supervision. One will have to prove their worth hence being considered worthwhile in the organisation.

On the other hand, a hybrid system is fantastic because it has allowed us to interact and thought partner with our colleagues in person and also get sometime by yourself without any interruptions from colleagues.

Working fully remotely Vs Working fully from the office or a Hybrid system
Future of Work: Working fully remotely Vs Working fully from the office or a Hybrid system

Most companies indicate intentions of having some form of hybrid arrangement as things go back to normal. For companies currently working remotely, 46% of them indicate intentions of maintaining a flexible operating model when the pandemic ends.

Infographic: exhibit 3

Keeping the Company Culture Alive

From the Future of Work report, 29% of respondents identified that company culture suffered when employees transitioned to remote work. New team members recruited during the pandemic have found it difficult to adapt to the company culture.

Social connections and collaboration are the primary benefits of “time in the office” which is essential in improving efficiency and harnessing innovation.

In response, many organizations have designed activities to motivate teams to connect with each other and maintain the company culture. Companies are also proactively checking on the mental well-being of team members to ensure that they are fully supported as they adjust to new working spaces. We have seen companies such as Fuzu, provide mental health support to ensure employees have access to counseling services.

Skill Gaps due to Working Remotely

The sudden shift to working remotely for most corporate brands made most employees realize that they need to learn some skills on their own especially where technologies such as laptops, web and app meetings are involved.

Skill Gaps due to Working Remotely
Woman at home working on laptop

For instance, according to the Future of Work report:

  • Interviews with HR professionals revealed that many companies embarked on training programs to equip employees with the necessary computer skills to facilitate remote work. 
  • The Future Of Work report revealed that internal mobility is up 20% since the onset of COVID-19, likely due to reduction in hiring efforts by most companies.
  • This shift has seen the need for employers to upskill and re-skill workers in readiness to take up potential future vacancies within the company.

Multi – tasking was never been a forte for many but working from home brought up the need to bridge that gap by learning how to. Having said that, working from home needs you to do house chores, join meetings, go out for food shopping, cook and report to your team leader at the end of the day.

Virtual Job Interviews

For a long time, we were used to physical meetings. Human touch makes a huge difference. Talk about the facial expressions on certain matters during interviews and the body movements, they help interviewers know more about the person. The lack of personal connection makes it harder to gauge a candidate’s personality which is critical in the recruitment process.

Skill Gaps due to Working Remotely
Interviewee and Interviewer

Well, the beauty with virtual interviews, they save time. But the whole truth is hidden behind the camera. I could be reading from a script. That’s why it is always recommendable for one to turn on their camera when in a zoom interview.

Like most business processes in general, hiring has been vastly affected by the shift to remote work. Many African companies remain apprehensive about virtual interviews as they seem to take away from the traditional in-person screening process.

An HR Manager at a talent development agency cited that face to face interviews allowed them to develop a personal touch with candidates and get a clearer idea of their personality and character. Virtual hiring has made this challenging.

Despite challenges like internet connectivity, power outages and distractions, virtual hiring might be here to stay. 70% of talent professionals in international companies say that virtual recruiting will become the new standard moving forward.

Bottom Line

It is time you invested in technology solutions and physical working spaces to work efficiently. According to the survey, The Future Of Work, internet connectivity and inaccessibility of work tools ranked as the highest barriers to productivity by creating a poor remote-work environment. A manager of an international development agency cited lack of hardware such as printers and scanners as something that had to be invested in. Adapt or die.

About the author

Janet Machuka