Working from home and in shifts take center stage as companies readjust to pandemic times

Companies and organizations have adjusted to working in shifts to reduce crowding in offices, a breeding environment for COVID-19 infection. The move was meant to boost the protection of employees.

The understanding is that people are a company’s most important asset and their protection should be priority number one.

As the government announced more Kenyans being infected, movements were restricted and organizations advised to adjust to working from home.

Organizations started by enhancing hygiene conditions in the office. They bought face masks and encouraged staff to ensure they wear them at all times, bought and installed alcohol-based hand-sanitizers, and placed them in strategic places to ensure staff can see them. Ventilation in the offices was also boosted to ensure a better flow of air.

Some organizations took to working from home either partially or completely. Even events that were often held offline, like press conferences, music concerts among others also went online, signaling what is now referred to as the new normal.

In some establishments like government, the staff of 58 years and above are working from home completely, in a bid to reduce their exposure to COVID-19 since they are considered of weaker immunity, with some battling lifestyle diseases that could end their lives in no time.

Some institutions like media resorted to reducing their workforce, citing low revenues. Media houses like Standard Media Group and MediaMax lead the list of media houses that reduced the workforce as well as stopped taking interns. However, this led to strenuous working hours for the remaining staff, including working from home.

Projects that needed to be delivered also had to adjust in many ways. The first was to check whether some activities could be undertaken online, like training. Secondly, period meetings went online. Thirdly, field visits were halted. Fourthly, activities that couldn’t be delivered online were postponed to a later date, as they monitor the situation. As a result, they needed to review their monitoring and evaluation framework to align it with these developments.

One of the more critical approaches to fighting the pandemic has been establishing an information mechanism, which will allow for the gathering of accurate and up to date information from trusted sources and sharing with staff, a move meant to minimize the risk of misinformation. In Kenya where the use of herbal medicine is high and people like self-medicating, the plethora of recommendations made and viral content shared, some of which were inaccurate meant that organizations had to invest in ways of verifying information being sharing as well as flagging fake news when shared.

Also, companies had to review their supply chains. For instance, for those that depend on imports, it meant they needed to acknowledge either delays in deliveries, consider other suppliers especially local, reducing production significantly, or shutting down operations.

Even as the government progressively eases movement restrictions and other measures in the country, many organizations have retained their working arrangements, like working from home, working in shifts, and those above 58 to work from home completely. For some, they may never be back to working offline, which helps them cut some office expenses like cleaning services, sanitary needs, electricity costs, and tea among others.

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