Among our national focus group, 55% explained that they have TikTok accounts while 45% claim otherwise. Among those who do, 89% claim to use the app at least 1 – 3 times daily. 5.5% use the app 4 – 5 times daily; 2.8% claim to use it 6 – 10 times daily, while another 2.8% use it more than 10 times each day.
Among the respondents in the focus group, who are all aged between 18 -45 years, 70% are employees while 30% are entrepreneurs and small business owners. 75% confirmed that they have had to work remotely since the pandemic began while 25% explained that they have had to work from their offices.
Asked to rate their work-from-home experiences on a scale of 1 – 10, 88.2% ranked their experiences above average. 60% also indicated that Nigerian companies should implement an effective remote work policy, 35% were uncertain while 5% said it was not necessary.
For those who advocated for remote work policy, a few comments are indicated here: “It helps to provide freedom away from work place and also gives room for self-development”; “In a few years, everything is going to be almost digital, but those that will be ahead then are those that have accepted it now”; “Yes, there will be issues and all. But that’s the great thing about it – the issues. Only those that start now will find the solution early and become a master of it, they will be the ones everyone else will be looking up to in the next few years”; “It provides flexibility for the company and the employees and could save cost”; “It helps provide a calm environment for the worker, where they are accustomed to. This will increase productivity. Although, I don’t think it could apply to all positions in the company”.
For the small percentage who thought remote work was unnecessary, some comments include: “Laziness and distractions at home make it more difficult than working at the office”; “It makes people too comfortable”; “Remote (work) is a good idea but it can violate some company policies which centers on teamwork and collaboration”; “It may affect the relationship such employee has with families and friends therefore it is not fair on the close relative and friends of the employee”.
A 2020 survey on remote work by Buffer Inc. indicates that 75% of remote workers said their companies do not cover internet costs, and 71% said their employers do not pay for co-working spaces for their employees. In 2019, the stats were slightly worse – 78% of companies did not cover internet costs and 76% did not pay for co-working spaces. Evidently, the desire and expectation of working remotely increases significantly every year among the workforce, companies are only slowly adopting remote-friendly policies.
“As a professional who has used both opportunities, it is clear that the concept of ‘9 – 5’ has become unnecessary,” said Olamide Jasanya, Team Lead, Corporate Communications & CSR, Heirs Insurance. “For me, because I had been given the freedom to do more, it became a responsibility to deliver on my job and my personal life. Employers might complain about the challenges: ‘People will take it for granted or might even deliver on the job’. But that still happens with what we call ‘9 – 5’. Because if it was perfect, nobody would have to get sacked”.
Arguably, the most compelling argument for fully remote employees and business are the lowered operational costs. Forbes points out that American Express saved $15 million in real estate costs by implementing a flexible work program where employees could indicate whether they preferred to be “hub” (office-based), “club” (occasionally office-based), “home” (work from home) or “roam” (traveling) employees. Other benefits include diversity and access to a wider talent pool, especially where work opportunities based out of large, expensive cities like Lagos and Abuja can be a barrier to entry for many who may be qualified and talented but unable to relocate due financial issues or logistics. On the other hand, fully remote workers can sometimes struggle with loneliness and burnout, so teams have to be more intentional in cultivating a strong workplace culture.
“The benefits of remote work has become clear to many young professionals that live and work in urban areas, and that the physical, mental and financial costs of work and the commute that it often requires is negotiable,” said Dami Adebayo, a researcher and writer. “Remote working has shown that productivity is not linked to a physical workplace and that digital tools have enabled collaborative work in an almost seamless manner. The challenge now lies in convincing conservative industries and their gatekeepers that remote working is not only sustainable but contributes to a greater bottomline”.
For an improved remote work culture, implementation requires investment in digital infrastructure, structural transformation of cities, food services, commercial real estate, and retail. For most companies, having employees work outside the office will require reinventing many processes and policies. Will employees be allowed to return and work at the office full time or will they continue to work fully remotely? Will it be a combination of both? No matter what employers decide, it is essential that businesses have remote work policy guidelines, just in case.