How To Thrive Remotely

The COVID-19 pandemic has delivered numerous difficulties to individuals and organizations. This incorporates hurried advances of business tasks to online spaces and constrained adjustments to remote work. This progressing emergency has also carried an acknowledgment to numerous organizations about the future of work and its similar work patterns.

In light of this, we held a discussion to help professionals understand the intricacies of remote working and guarantee business coherence through smooth and secure work process frameworks with the assistance of online collaboration tools.

We were pleased to have experts who have experience with the remote work culture. They included:

1. Somet Kipchilat — A backer of the transformative intensity of innovation in organizations. He has worked with little, medium-size organizations and new companies to assist them with creative and transformative work through the use of innovation.

2. Lynn Mugambi — An enthusiastic supporter of innovation in networks who is knowledgeable with numerous advances including Python, Java, JavaScript, and structures, for example, Vue.js and Angular 6.

3. Dr. Bright Mawudor — An Information security lover who enables individuals and organizations to know about cybersecurity. He is an enthusiastic participant in gatherings and conversations concentrated on big data security, and digital cleanliness.

The conversation was moderated by Kennedy Kirui, an experienced designer and design facilitator who is enthusiastic about the utilization of innovation to affect individuals’ lives. He has worked with startups, corporates, and NGOs across Africa to help them realize the value of human-centered design as a critical thinking approach and use innovation to solve their pertinent issues.

Key Takeaways:

  1. On culture

Corporate culture is a huge determinant of remote work. A few corporate societies are impacted by the traditional office work model. As the world receives the remote work pattern, organizations need to mentally prepare for it. The customary office set up has a substantial dependence on the eight to five work culture as an estimation of productivity. An adjustment in the view of profitability will assist work environments with adaptation to remote work.

Lynn is skilled at remote work and recognizes the mental move that accompanies it. She clarifies that control is no longer completely in the hands of the pioneers but is conveyed to each colleague. Qualities, for example, trust, self-administration, and responsibility are important among virtual groups as partners need to accept that assignments will be finished without subsequent meet-ups with one another. Lynn additionally expresses that organizations ought to likewise receive new strategies for estimating KPIs. Efficiency can no longer be a proportion of the number of work hours but through the output

“Trust is important in remote teams. The office provides leaders with an opportunity to oversee their employees but without that privilege, they have to trust that employees will get work done. Employees must also ensure that they are disciplined enough to complete their tasks without being nudged by anyone to do so.” — Lynn Mugambi, Software Engineer at Andela.

“If your business structure measures productivity in terms of an eight to five it will fail with the current crisis and remote work. Measure productivity through deliverables and not work hours.” — Lynn Mugambi, Software Engineer at Andela.

2. On tools

The mastery of remote work includes team synchronization. The devices that an organization chooses must guarantee effective coordinated effort and organizational control that is fundamental for the success of virtual groups.

Somet prompts organizations to utilize tools that ensure cooperation and accountability. Businesses often trade professionalism for convenience through the use of casual tools such as WhatsApp for communication. Platforms such as Slack are more qualified for organizations as they give proficient correspondence and transparency among colleagues.

He insists that the businesses should instruct their employees on what tools they should use to avoid compromise in business operations. Software such as Microsoft teams is a “one-stop-shop” for teams as it provides communication and collaboration through workplace chats, video meetings, file storage, and application integration. Such a tool also offers control of remote teams through an open and transparent centralized work platform.

“Never underestimate human ingenuity. People use what is convenient for them which can easily lead to business activity compromise. Organizations should guide their employees on what tools they should use to guarantee collaboration and accountability.” — Somet Kipchilat, Partner Development Manager, Microsoft 4Africa.

3. On security

The move of business exercises to the digital world has prompted an increase in cybercrime. There is a remarkable spike in phishing assaults, mail spams, and ransomware assaults as assailants use COVID-19 as a trap to mimic brands and misdirect workers and clients. Hackers are also on the rise as individuals utilize risky systems to complete their assignments.

Dr. Bright stresses the significance of cyber security measures in associations through the creation of successful security controls that follow the new work models. Secure VPNs, for example, Express VPN, can be purchased to protect business and customer discussions. Corporates can likewise invest their resources into software such as Microsoft Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) which aids in malware recognition.

Employees can also contribute to their digital security through simple measures such as changes of home router passwords to avoid any unwanted access by their internet service providers. Further advances such as the partition of home workstations from work PCs and the use of firewalls can be taken to be less inclined to computer hacks.

“The best way to solve any security problem is to go back to the basics. Corporates should invest in anti-malware software such as Microsoft ATP and Kaspersky and run frequent malware tests on their systems. Secure VPNs are also important to guard against network hacks. Employees can also take simple steps such as the use of firewalls and pre-installed anti-virus software on their devices to remain cyber secure.” — Dr. Bright Mawudor, Head of Cybersecurity, Internet Solutions of Kenya.

4. On boundaries

Several businesses have misconceptions about remote work due to the lack of constant surveillance of team members. This leads to false notions such as increased laziness and more free time. The belief that productivity is achieved through the “eight to five” work style further fuels these misguided judgements.

The panelists testify that many people believe that remote work is equivalent to an increase in work hours. This presumption prompts an interruption of work into a worker’s spare time. They encourage team members to set work hours and communicate them to the rest of the team. This guarantees a solid work-life balance through healthy limits among colleagues.

Remote work is also a challenge with family as they need consideration and care. The panelists advise that there should be clear communication of work hours with family members to avoid work interruptions. People should maximize on these hours to ensure they have completed their tasks for the day so that they do not spill over to family time.

“Businesses that had built their models on the fact that employees have to be at work from eight to five. To allow for remote work, many will have to change their models to allow employees to work within the times they have and not burn through back to back without any breaks.”~Somet Kipchilat, Partner Development Manager, Microsoft 4Africa.

“Honor your work breaks. Communicate these times to your workmates and put time blockers on your calendar so that your workmates can know that you are unavailable. This helps maintain respect and avoid contempt among each other.” ~ Lynn Mugambi, Software Engineer at Andela.

“Working in shifts can help balance out the time between your work and family. Focus during work hours and create do lists so that you can complete the most important tasks for the day. This ensures that your work will not encroach into family time.” ~Dr. Bright Mawudor, Head of Cybersecurity, Internet Solutions of Kenya.

As the webinar came to a close, the panelists shared their thoughts on the new working culture that will exist during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.