How it is working from home in Kenya

2020 has got us all by shock: WW3 fears at the start of it and now Corona virus. Since my birth over 2 decades ago, I have not heard of an year so rough as this one. Maybe I was young.

Anyways now that am at my wits, the outbreak of covid19 pandemic has forced many changes to peoples lives, the major one including having to work from home for may sectors of any countries economy -Kenya included.

As a system admin, I have occasionally had to work from home but on very light issues such as intervening on a very stubborn server or a task which only I had enough information to complete it. This time, we’re all being forced to stay at home and work hard to try and maintain the same levels of output for the company.

Here are a few things I have come to learn about working from home in Kenya:

1. Our unstable power supply is a major problem.

We run majorly on hydro electric power and a bit of geothermal power supply in Kenya. Our work relies on availability and quality in how we deal with our customers. We offer online based services and support and you would think we’re naturally cut out to work from home without an issue. Well, on the ground, there’s an issue of inconsistent power supply. Out here, you can experience 2 – 3 days of power outage. That means, you cant work from home and have to either report to work or move to a friends house and do your shift and meetings from there for a while.

Gladly, our country isn’t on full lock down at this moment so one can grab some gloves, a mask and sanitizer and find your way to your workplace for your shift. At least work places always have generators just in case electricity supply has an issue.

2. Internet availability, another major problem.

Some parts of the country have fiber internet connection one can subscribe to for home internet. This makes it possible, to work from home rather comfortably. You’ll get to access web apps and make calls and attend meetings well if you have fiber based internet connection.

The problem comes if you are not living in this kind of environment, and truth be said, 90% of Kenyans aren’t. Most rely on modems and tethered internet from smartphones to access the world wide web and do their stuff. That becomes a problem if you want to offer service and attend a Zoom meeting. The speeds don’t cut it and it becomes so expensive purchasing data for these kind of uses. One then is forced to move to areas where they could get fiber internet connection. But we can’t all fit there, can we!

3. Zoom hits a boom

Well, until March 2020, most people around here didn’t know what Zoom is nor did they care. Now, everyone wants to know what this is. They even want to add their ability to connect via Zoom as a qualification in their curriculum vitaes. Everyone in every profession is having to make do with this and having to learn how to video conference. Physical meetings of more than 5 people are banned country wide and folk now have to meet via video conferencing solutions. Seeing the older folk ready to learn this makes me happy.

4. Facebook and Youtube are church on Sunday.

To be honest, this came to me as a surprise, I didn’t see it this way. For a long time, I have heard most preachers under rate the need for an online presence. Young turks in the church could recommend having a facebook, youtube and even twitter account for the church but the vicars wouldn’t have any of it. I have heard a few summons about the insignificance of an online presence, that the church doesn’t need those. Some go to the extent of saying its a ‘worldly’ influence.

Now, churches have a Facebook and Youtube account. When you visit Facebook on Sunday, you’d think its a platform for Sunday service. So many live streams. Facebook mus have really scaled to accommodate this. And my friends Whatsapp statuse? A few invitations will stream in to attend a live service every Sunday.
Am glad this is working out and that some preachers are being forced to swallow their summons on how Facebook is bad for you.

5. One works for longer hours while at home.

Well, am not sure if its the times or its something that comes with working at home. From a few friends, I have learned that while at home, they work for many many hours a day. Somehitting upto 16 hours a day. You just work and sleep. Eating doesnt get dedicated time as it usually does, you eat your food while working.

Ideally, an average person may take an about 2 hours in travel daily between work place and home. These hours have been absorbed into the working hours. People aren’t taking lunch breaks and there’s no respect to working hours. Its at 8pm and a co-worker or your boss just zooms you in and needs a meet. After that, you take an additional 30mins to 1 hour or more doing what the zoom was all about.

Well, by the time the world overcomes the novel corona virus of 2019, a lot of changes will be there. Working from home will be a norm and some companies will introduce a day or two a week for employees to work from home – though am not counting on this much. People will however be more empowered to remote work as currently, everyone in the service industry is making adjustments to try and work from home – because we all want to live.

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