As Uganda joins the rest of the world to mark International Labour Day on May 1st, 2020, the biggest percentage of the country’s labour force is grappling with uncertain future over whether they will be working gainfully in the coming months.
A new research by Success Africa and Ultimate Multimedia Consult has shown that many Ugandan organisations and businesses have been bruised by the Coronavirus crisis due to failure to have crisis work strategies that would have ensured their staff members are adequately prepared for remote work following the forced closure of many work places.
Ethan Musolini, the Team Leader at Success Africa says the majority of respondents in the April 2020 study are worried about whether they will continue to have work opportunities, or whether they will be paid for work done as their employers struggle to keep afloat.
“The fact that 56.6% of business performance is not being achieved while 15.1% of the entrepreneurs noted that business performance remained the same goes to show limited preparedness and adaptability by organisations and businesses to keep operating effectively, says Musolini, adding that many businesses have already announced salary cuts for April.
The findings from the study show that many of organisations were not able to meet the market demand, with some businesses closing. “While this raises questions about the preparedness by organisations to ensure work continues remotely during crisis, it does also raise questions about business planning and especially diversification of product and services where an organisation finds ways of providing some of its products and services online,” reads the research report where 384 Managers, Entrepreneurs and Employees were surveyed. However, not all businesses can practically adopt online or remote based work.
The report says while schools could have planned to offer learning online or using other means, there is hardly a possibility for hotels, tours and travel or hotels to continue offering their services during a crisis like corona virus where all people are encouraged to stay home.
The report notes that some entrepreneurs and managers who can are using electronic communication channels to meet their employees to set targets and review employee work performance. Others especially from factories said some employees have camped at the workplaces from where they continue to work during the lockdown. “This shows commendable adaptation by some businesses. We need more of such innovative work methods for employees and business to continue to operate gainfully,” Musolini says.
According to the report, the majority of the Managers (49%) were finding it difficult adjusting to work from home, 37% found it easy while 6% found it very difficult. While majority of the employees are willing to consider working from home after the pandemic, the managers are not ready to let employees work from home, 44.1% said “Not at all” while only 20% ranked their willingness to let employees work from home for at least two days a week at 60%.
The report recommends that:
- Organisations need to revisit their working culture and provide for flexible work home arrangements if the operational realities support remote work.
- The government should come up with policies and strategies to prepare and enable as many people of the work force as possible to be able to work remotely using available digital technologies.
- Organisations need to procure equipment and related software for staff to be able to work at home and deliver as per expectation.
- There is need for training of managers, entrepreneurs and employees in best practices of working from home as well as practical operations of chosen remote work software.
- Managers and entrepreneurs should endeavour to motivate their employees with incentives to work from home at productive levels.
- Organisations need to acquire extra tools, policies, training and techniques to manage remote employees since there is limited control over how employees truly spend their time and deliver as expected. This includes clear deliverables and flexible timelines.
- There is need for employees to limit and manage disruptions and interruptions at home by setting clear boundaries for family and friends so that they keep focused on work.
- Employees need to develop skills in self-management; self-motivation, self-discipline, focus, and concentration since these improve performance while working from home.
- It is also important for employees to maintain good physical and emotional health by eating well, exercising regularly, having enough sleep and limiting non work related screen time.
- Organisations must provide basic facilitation to employees like airtime and internet data as well as maintain continuous communication to keep all employees engaged.