App Developers In Kenya: Is Remote Working The New Future?

Most of the mobile and web solutions we have created as app developers in Kenya are for business. Mobile apps offer a convenient way for business owners to expand their reach and improve communication.

In addition, websites and apps are effective marketing tools to promote a company’s products or services. However, the nature of the workplace has changed after the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses that created mobile apps and websites before the pandemic are enjoying continued interactions with their customers.

The challenge now is for businesses to prepare and adapt to the reality of remote working. Is it temporal or the future?

Remote Working Trends

Before Covid-19, about 7 million employees in the US were already working from home. The number of remote workers in the US increased by 159% between 2005 and 2017.

The world was already shifting to remote working before the health crisis. Further statistics show that nearly half of the US working population has worked remotely at some point.

Remote working presents an opportunity for businesses to hire the best talents and save costs at the same time. Some experts prefer to work remotely.

In some cases, remote working is the only possible way to engage an expert.  It breaks the location barrier and enables companies to hire the best talents irrespective of their geographical location.

Remote working at the same time offers employees opportunities to work with the best employers from around the world.

A recent survey revealed that 78% of the participating firms were using flexible work schedules and telecommuting as a way of increasing employee retention.

The same survey showed that 82% of the companies in the US use remote working opportunities to help employees achieve the life-work balance.

Business owners have been recognising the advantages of allowing their employees to work from home over time.

The expectation is that the same trend will continue even after the Covid-19 crisis is over.

Employees’ preferences to work from home

The older generation of employees that is leaving the workplace associates work with an office environment. Employees who are about to retire adhere the 9 to 5 work schedule.

The new generation of employees, on the other hand, is looking for flexible jobs.  About 83% of job applicants use the ability to work remotely as a decisive factor when choosing between two job offers.

Losing job flexibility will make at least two-thirds of employees to start considering other opportunities. Business owners cannot ignore this preference going forward.

A different survey indicated that 54% of employees working in an office are willing to leave their job if they find another with more flexibility.

The shift in preferences explains the move by employers to use job flexibility to attract and retain the best talents.

Any business that ignores this preference is likely to struggle with hiring process in the future.

The surveys were taken way before the world started dealing with Covid-19.  The pandemic has given most of the office workers an opportunity to explore remote working.

The most likely outcome is that the office workers will prefer to continue working from home after the pandemic. Switching jobs may be impossible in the short-term but in the long-term, office workers will look for flexible jobs.

You can find more interesting freelance statistics here.

Technology

From the sampled statistics in the previous section, it is clear that employees prefer flexibility. Remote working is not necessarily become a trend because of technology

App developers in Kenya and other technical experts respond to the demand for remote working tools.

Developers are seeing the need to improve the effectiveness of remote workers through tools. Technology is an enabling factor to remote working.

Tools such as Slack, Google Drive, and Zoom have made it easy for remote workers to collaborate. New tools are expected in the market as remote working intensifies in the future.

Other technical advances that are promoting remote work include artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning. Such changes are eliminating the need to have tens and even hundreds of employees in an office.

Employees are always concerned when new technology threatens their job security. Such concerns lead to a search for remote work, which allows employees to engage more than one employer at the same time.

Knowledge versus tools

Whenever remote working is mentioned, the next big question in the mind of employers is the right tools to acquire. The assumption is that acquiring the tools solves the equation for both employees and employers.

For app developers in Kenya, the question is about developing the tools internally or for other businesses.

Remote working tools are enablers and not necessarily the most critical element of remote working. Employees need knowledge of how to work from home effectively.

Sometimes working remotely means engaging employers in different countries or states. This means that a remote worker has no way of determining if such a company has a physical address or not.

In case of disputes or conflicts, employees feel helpless and insecure. Employers must build confidence, trust, and security in remote workers.

Transparency and honesty are a priority to remote workers, especially when signing contracts with new employers. Transitioning from the office to remote working with the same employer is easy.

Employees need the confidence that the employer is stable enough to pay their salaries and benefits on time. In case of a crisis such as the on-going Covid-19 crisis, employees need an assurance of job security.

When employers build confidence in their employees through information, remote working tools now bridge the gaps.

Integrating the right tools becomes the link to effectiveness and optimal performance for remote workers. Information and training must come first before the tools for remote working to yield the best results.

Concluding remarks

Remote working is certainly going to be a huge part of the future workplace. Many employers have shunned the trend for a long time because of IT requirements. Creating an enabling environment requires that business owners engage IT experts including app developers in Kenya. In the past, flexible working hours was a choice. However, the future points to a situation when companies will have to offer job flexibility to hire the best talents in the job market.

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Remote Working Challenges We Did Not Anticipate As App Developers

The Covid-19 crisis was unexpected but our move to start working from home was planned.

We held several meetings. We talked about the transition and picked the remote working tools we would need.

However, even with all the planning and tools, some things still went wrong.

As app developers in Kenya, we focused more on the technical side of our work.

In this article, we share some of the issues that have slowed our team members down.

1. New family dynamics

Yes, we knew and read about distractions from family members while working from home.

Distractions are a large part of current discussions on working from home.

However, the kind of dynamics we are talking about has nothing to do with kids crawling onto the workstation.

We are not even talking about the abrupt talks, calls, or unplanned meals but a new family setting.

Kids are at home, not on holiday, but with instruction of homeschooling. Hence, working parents have to spend part of their day as teachers.

Most of us rarely take our work home unless if we have unfinished projects.

Unfortunately, children do not understand the new dynamics of having working parents at home. The result is resentment.

Covid-19 has also come with safety measures including isolation. We cannot send them to play outside as much or bond without constantly asking them to wash their hands.

Parents are also acting as counsellors to assure the kids of their safety and health.

We have to interpret the constant news headlines, while still trying to maintain our office-like work schedule.

2. Loneliness

We have talked about the parents in our team. They have new family issues to deal with while still working.

However, a good number of staff members are single, which means that they live alone.

Work is a good distraction but it cannot replace normal interactions with the outside world.

Going out of the house means taking a risk to contact an infected person or surface.

We have enough communication tools even for video conferencing. However, we cannot chat online all day.

Virtual conversations and meetings are effective but lack so many aspects of face-to-face conversations.

While we do the best we can with the internet, we have to be honest about the loneliness that comes with remote working.

Loneliness has also led to this next challenge.

3. Prolonged working hours

If you cannot go out as usual, the next best thing for app developers in Kenya is to keep working.

Software development can keep you busy all day and night if you love it.

The upside of it is that you get many projects done within a short time.

The downside of it is the toll on your wellness. Rest is as important as physical exercises.

We often stop working because we have to leave the office. Now, there is nothing stopping us from working into the night.

The result has been distracted working hours for the team.

It is impossible to work all night and be effective the following day.

Consequently, we have had to adjust our virtual meetings to a time when everyone is available during the day.

Some team members are also discovering their preference to work at night, especially parents with young kids.

4. Internet connection issues

Are we saying that we ignored possible internet disconnections? No. We have quite a number of reliable internet providers in Kenya.

Part of our discussions before breaking from the office was a reliable internet connection for every staff member.

However, the demand for internet services has gone up with the coronavirus crisis.

Many people are working from home. Internet providers faced a sudden increase in demand for their services.

Consequently, it is now taking longer for service providers to solve connection issues.

In addition, the service providers have to think about the health and safety of their employees as well.

The number of staff members working per time has reduced.

Hence, even with the best internet connection, we have had downtimes for some members.

Developing mobile apps and websites requires fast internet throughout the day or working session.

5. Anxiety

You do not sit and plan to be anxious. However, anxiety is a reality that we are contending with every day.

We are not oblivious of the effects of the crisis on businesses. We care about our current and future clients.

Every update from the ministry of health leaves a question in our minds.

When will all this be over?

No one can predict with accuracy when we shall resume normal operations.

In addition, team members are also anxious about their health.

The risk of infection is real. Spending time in mandatory quarantine is the last thing one wants to think about at this time.

Yet, we have these questions in our minds as we take all the necessary precautions.

It is not just exploring remote working from home. We have a health crisis that can affect any of our team members at any time.

Our response

If you are working from home as we are, chances are that you have encountered some or even all of these challenges.

We are not even talking about the normal distractions and need to subscribe to working tools.

The extent to which the challenges affect the performance of the team depends on your response.

As app developers in Kenya, we have done the following to overcome these challenges:

i)Accountability: Our team members are accountable to each other concerning their health and wellness. Our online chats and calls are not limited to work-related issues. We talk about the loneliness, anxiety, and social distancing issues that have come with the transition to remote working.

ii)Taking small steps: We have come to appreciate that implementing such sudden change takes time. Staff members need to understand this and start making small changes every day to master a new working schedule. Working in the midst of distractions is not easy. The resentment from family members can also slow you down. Our approach has been making small but consistent changes in our workflow until we find a flow that works for everyone.

iii?Accurate information: Lack of information in a crisis always leads to anxiety. We stay updated on the current news but also on the best precautionary measures. Team members share accurate information about the crisis and steps to take in case of an infection.

Final remarks

Some of the challenges that come with remote working are unavoidable. Learn from our experience. If you intend to work from home, you will encounter one or several of these challenges. Create a plan with possible solutions that will ensure that any issues that arise do not affect your performance significantly.

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7 Remote Working Tools That Every Virtual Team Needs

Every day that we wake up to news about new confirmed cases means that we have to stay at home longer.

We cannot predict with accuracy when this Covid-19 crisis will be over.

We are forced to adopt the “wait and see” attitude. The anxiety in business owners and their staff members is unimaginable.

However, one thing is clear. We will never do business as we did before Covid-19. Everything will be different.

In fact, you do not want to take the risk of being caught unawareness again. If your team is working is remotely, here are some tools that will make it easy.

The tools are working for us as app developers in Kenya and will work for your team as well.

1. Zoom

Collaboration is the first aspect of remote working that every employer must consider. Whether you are working with teams or just a few individuals, you need constant updates.

In the current situation, remote working is not optional. However, it will be optional in the future.

Zoom helps virtual teams to hold meetings online as you would in an office setting. Video conferencing is the next best thing after physical meetings.

You can see the responses and reactions of all team members in real-time on your screen.

One advantage of Zoom is that it allows members to join a meeting via audio set up only. Hence, for quick meetings or slow connections, you do not need to see everyone’s face.

2. Slack

Slack has worked for us for years even before we allowed our developers to work remotely.

The chat platform allows users to share files and collaborate where a meeting is unnecessary.

In fact, if you use Slack well, you will eliminate the need for several video conferences every week.

The platform allows chats between individuals through direct messages and teams through channels.

You can also pull a thread from a conversation in a channel to avoid a mix-up of topics.

As app developers in Kenya, we work on many projects simultaneously. Slack enables our developers to follow up on the progress of each project.

Nothing lags behind because the progress of each task is visible to all members at all times.

3. Google Drive, Docs and Sheets

Google offers these three services separately. However, we will discuss them together because they serve the same purpose for virtual teams.

If you use the free version of Slack, you will soon run out of storage space.

Google Drive offers free storage space for both individuals and team members to store and share files.

Instead of sending large attachments, a team member will save the file in a location that every other member can access remotely via a link.

Google Sheets comes in handy when virtual teams are compiling reports. It saves the time and effort needed to compile individual reports into one.

Any member with access to a Sheet can edit it.

Remote workers need the same convenience of saving large files. Cloud storage saves users from overloading their devices’ memory.

ALSO READ: Covid-19 Crisis: Pros and Cons of Remote Working for Business

4. InVision

InVision is a great tool for design companies like Muva. However, your virtual teams will still need it even if you are not a design company.

Occasionally, you will need to design presentations for your clients or for conferences.

Your team might also need to redesign your website or app. Marketing teams use it to design e-flyers.

The collaborative tool helps a design team to move quickly from the concept stage to the final design.

Virtual teams can create and share prototypes that both team members and clients can view.

Prototypes show how the final product will function before developing. Once a team agrees on a prototype, the design and development processes move fast.

The platform allows messaging for team members to share ideas and give feedback on changes to the design.

Project managers find this tool useful when managing different phases of projects. It is easy to hand over a project from one team to another across developmental stages.

Mobile app developers in Kenya, media houses, and other technology companies use the tool extensively.

Try it for any design or development project in your business.

5. GitHub

Here is another tool for virtual developers and designers. We always end up with amazing software because our team uses this tool efficiently.

We are working remotely effectively but even in the office setting, most of the collaboration among developers happens on GitHub.

It enables developers to share and review codes until we come up with quality codes.

Github is also great for individual developers to share their work with potential employers.

Remote workers can store their personal projects here.

6. Google Calendar

You may not think that you need a calendar for virtual meetings but you do. It is easy to call a few people for a meeting, whether online or in a room.

However, as your team grows, everyone needs to set reminders on Google Calendar.

The tool is necessary for managers overseeing several teams and multiple projects. You easily lose track of meetings.

Remote workers often commit to different projects simultaneously. Even with the best virtual meeting tools, meetings will only run efficiently when all members log in on time.

Google Calendar works for us because of the numerous meetings we set with clients.

We have several meetings in a day with different clients. It is impossible to prepare and show up for each meeting without such a tool as Google Calendar.

The advantage is that it also sends reminders to clients of the organised meetings.

Related: How to Work Remotely Effectively During the Coronavirus Crisis

7. WhatsApp

This may come as a surprise because WhatsApp is mostly used as a social platform. Businesses also use it to advertise products or reach out to their customers.

However, in this era of remote working, WhatsApp is proving an effective collaborative tool.

A virtual team may not share work-related messages on the platform because of data privacy issues. However, it is a great platform for building relationships away from work-related conversations.

Social media replaces the conversations that teammates share over tea and lunch breaks at the office. It eliminates the sense of isolation and loneliness that comes with remote working.

Encourage your employees to hold healthy discussions here that do not fit the work-related tools outlined above.

Final thoughts

Remote working is now a reality and as app developers in Kenya, we have taken the challenge to explore it. The effectiveness of virtual teams largely depends on the tools available to a team and individuals. Pick the right tools from this list that will best fit the flow of work in your business. The advantage of these tools is that you can still use them in a physical office setting to improve collaboration and efficiency.

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Top 10 Trusted Mobile App Developers in Kenya

A good mobile app developer in Kenya should create a revenue-generating tool for your business idea. For this reason, people are looking for someone who can make their idea explode and make them a profiting entity.

By looking at the need in the market, there are companies that have gained a good reputation due to their commitment to quality app development in Kenya. These companies have mastered the skill of developing award-winning and user-friendly apps.

Each one of them has a solid foundation of top developers backed up with heart-winning strategies and exceptional technical skills. You don’t need anything else other than choosing one among them, particularly one that matches your specific business idea and needs.

Here are the top 10 trusted companies for app development in Kenya.

1. Muva Technologies

This company has a wide variety of app solutions meeting the needs of different clients. Muva develops applications for BBM, IOS, Java, Android and Windows phone as well. There is almost everything you need around the design and development of your app. Customizations are made based on your needs. More than that, the professionals will offer guidance to you if you are not conversant with the mobile app world.

2. TrendPro Systems Limited

This is a software design and development company based in Kenya. TrendPro Systems Limited provides user-targeted software for both established businesses and startups. They are experts in web development especially using Ruby on Rails. They have also established themselves in the mobile app development industry in Kenya with Swapp CRM Mobile app as one of their best projects.

3. Appological

Appological will not only develop an app for you but also follow it up and monitor how it is fairing in the market. The company makes applications for organizations and individual clients as well. They have offices in Nairobi and London. Among the key apps that they have created include Root Checker Pro and Betting Tips Chat among others.

4. Zoom IT Limited

This company has had a major contribution in the education, agribusiness and security sectors in Kenya in terms of app development. Through their expertise, the company has made agricultural activities easy, enhanced security measures and made education easily accessible.

5. Elan Telemedia Limited

With more than 6 years of experience in the industry, Elan Telemedia has established itself among the top trusted app development organizations in Kenya. The company has a team of professionals who are masters in apps design and development.

6. Smart Web Kenya

Smart Web Kenya started out as a web design and development company. Later on, the company diversified into the development of mobile apps mainly for android phones. The company has established quite a number of partnerships with several learning institutions and created learning and institutional apps as well.

7. Kenya Web Developers

More than doing web hosting services, this company has been at the forefront developing apps in Kenya and has, as a result, won the hearts of many. Most of their apps are inspirational and are inclined to conveying some positive message.

8. Litchman Consultants

A Nairobi-based Digital Solutions Company involved with the development of mobile applications alongside other website services. They are the minds behind such projects as Wakilipro and the Stock Brockers Research Portal among several other works.

9. Space Kenya

Any applications in the field of geography, mapping, location identification and allied aspects are in the heart of Space Kenya. More than that, they also develop gaming apps for use on android platforms.

10. Umptech LTD

Umptech LTD has also found a place in the app development industry in Kenya. They design and make applications for both android and windows platforms, serving different needs as dictated by their clients.

App development is a costly investment and therefore, making the right choice of uncompromised quality and delivery of your app is the best thing you can ever do. To be confident of your move, here are the top 10 trusted app developers in Kenya to choose from.

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How to Work Remotely Effectively During the Coronavirus Crisis

We just ended the second week of working remotely as a company because of the Coronavirus crisis.

We promised to share our experience as we go along to help you understand what it takes to keep all staff members engaged remotely.

One thing we need to agree on is that no one saw this crisis coming. It was a “Chinese problem” until it began to affect other nations.

The Kenyan government was quick to catch on with the safety measures to control its spread. We have moved from calls to work from home to mandatory dusk to dawn curfew.

Our journey of working from home got better in the second week. Here are the lessons shared by our team so far:

1. Set up your new office

If you have been working from your employer’s office for years, chances are that you have no working space at home.

Our team had the same challenge as shared in our previous post. Setting up the workspace does not happen overnight.

We cannot predict when it will be safe for us to work closely again in an office setting and neither can you.

The temptation is to curl on your couch or bed with a laptop. We have tried that. It does not work as you expect. You will be snoring after an hour or so!

Even with limited space at home, you can set up a new workstation with a comfortable desk and seat.

Here is the danger of working from your couch. By the time the crisis is over, you will be complaining of back and neck pains.

Your couch was designed for rest, TV, and family talks, not long working hours.

You may start there but by now, you should have an ergonomic workstation.

The workspace will help you in the future when you need to do assignments or personal studies at home.

2. Create boundaries

We know this challenge so well. Everyone is on a mandatory quarantine. All your family members are working from home or just staying at home.

You are a bit lucky if you live alone but the situation for many of us is a family setting.

The fireplace stories are back. For parents, your kids need attention all day.

We are moving from watching the latest news to sudden meals in the kitchen.

How do you get work done in such an environment? Set boundaries!

Call for a family meeting if you need to and agree on working hours. This means that they cannot ask for anything or walk into your workstation at certain times.

If you are a parent, explain to your kids that you are not out on holiday. Give them assignments to do while you work.

Where possible, ask for help with the kids during your working hours.

Here is a tip with boundaries. Respect other people’s boundaries if you want them to respect yours.

If you constantly interrupt others, they will do the same.

3. Constant communication

You have covered the situation at home, created the workspace you need and communicated your boundaries to everyone.

Your team members are doing the same in their new office setups.

We have noticed that we move faster when everyone is online at the same time. Communication is important when creating an app or website remotely.

You must communicate your progress at every stage and respond to your team members promptly.

This is only possible if the environment at home allows you to focus on your tasks throughout the day.

We understand that technical hitches may come along the way. For instance, a team member may lose power or internet connection.

You may hit a snag with an assigned task and need assistance.

Such a team member has the responsibility of informing others of the challenge immediately.

Luckily, we have multiple channels of communication at Muva Technologies. In our planning period, we advised the team on the best way to use each channel.

Communication is not just for a smooth workflow. Your workmates are like family depending on the relationships you create in the office.

We work more or less like a family. Everyone must check in daily with the current health status and all.

We are also sharing tips on how to stay safe and navigate the uncertainties of the day.

4. Maintain an office-like schedule

Well, this proved tough at the beginning but we are slowly catching on with the schedule.

When going to the office, you set your alarm at a certain time. For most of us, you are ready to start your day at 8am or 9am.

Do not break the routine. Remember that we are working remotely just for a season.

It will be hard to adjust after the crisis is over.

The greater benefit is that maintaining your routine helps you manage your time effectively.

Take the breaks as usual. This means that you might need to prepare your meals earlier or ask for help.

Here is a quick one, do not adopt unhealthy eating habits and blame it on the crisis.

Maintain your discipline in preparing healthy meals before or after work.

Using an office-like schedule means getting off your desk at 5pm or your usual time. This brings us to our last tip for the week.

5. Balance

We get it. You want to prove to your boss or supervisor that you are working effectively from home.

You might be tempted to work extra hours into the night because you can. You can use the time you spend in traffic to work.

However, you need balance to maintain the daily routine. Your family still needs your attention.

If you do not give them the usual time, they will have a hard time keeping the boundaries you created.

You need time to catch up with your friends, catch the latest news, and keep the hobbies you can.

Outdoor activities are limited but you still have options for indoor activities besides watching TV.

Remote working offers an opportunity to do more every day where your work and personal development is concerned.

Learn something new. Learn new ways of doing your job. Develop a new hobby. Spend more time your family now that you can.

At the end of the crisis, you should have tangible results of how you spent the extra hours.

Stay safe!

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