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AfricaNigeriaOpinion

Covid-19: Has the virtual office become more prominent?

By Rukayat Akanbi

Human Resource Managers are the most sensitive set of employees in an organization. The reason is simple; they take decisions that decide the direction of the business, growth or regression. Top of those decisions is recruiting the other employees who will carry out the day to day activities of the organization which will translate to a set goal or result.

The 9 to 5 is the popular method of work in Nigeria and many other nations except for a few jobs that are easily executed with little or no supervision, and mostly remunerated on commissions. Due to suspicions of indiscipline, HR experts usually frown at working from home especially when the job is remunerated as salary, but has the Covid-19 pandemic changed this perspective?

Coronavirus took the world by a storm and made many obey a work model that was once rejected. Even jobs that were statutorily done from the field or office were adjusted to virtual. Bankers, Engineers and Teachers all worked from home during the Federal government total lockdown of Abuja, Ogun and Lagos.

During the Stay at Home period, forex brokers had their Customer Care agents work from home. The distrust of indiscipline was forcefully erased because in the first place, their job descriptions appear to be mostly achievable from any serene environment. To keep up the office, virtual meetings continued during the heated period of the pandemic.

Reports and Follow ups were shared using social meeting software. The Zoom App became more popular and recorded a milestone of users during the period. According to reports, Zoom moved from a minimum of ten thousand users per day in December 2019 to a minimum of two hundred thousand users per day during the lockdown.

For the first time since her creation, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) had her Annual General Meeting online. I believe a lot others followed suit as well. Also during the time, a lot of small and medium scale business owners took to webinars and other chat platforms to teach popularly demanded skills to people for a token.

For all the aforementioned, what is needed is a Computer or Mobile device, power supply and internet facility. With all these changes that has become part of our work ways and the new normal taught us by the pandemic, human resource managers may have to ask themselves some honest questions on whether some roles can be deployed and executed virtually. Do we have some roles that can safely be done from home?

How can people be monitored to get the job done or will payment structure be fashioned in such a way that it dictates discipline? If it can be done, is it sustainable? What are the major fears? If these questions are well attended to, we can come to a reasonable conclusion on whether the pandemic has brought some positives on how our work models can be adjusted without sacrificing results.

Written by: Moshood Akinle

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