COVID-19 Crisis: Pros and Cons of Remote Working for Business

Remote working is not a new term for employers. The current health crisis has just pushed the discussion further on having a remote workforce

A few months ago, allowing employees to work from home was optional for businesses.

The COVID-19 crisis has forced employers to consider remote working to remain in business.

The changes are so sudden that many employers are still struggling with the required adjustments.

Is it a good or bad thing to allow employees to work from home? Should business owners consider the same after the crisis is over?

Pros

1. Increased productivity

One of the highlights of the discussions on remote working is that employees encounter distractions at home.

However, most remote workers understand the demands of working from home. Employees know the changes necessary in their environment to work effectively.

In fact, the office environment sometimes offers more distractions including unplanned meetings, movements, and announcements.

While working remotely, employees can choose the most productive hours in their day when they can work with minimal distractions.

The result is higher productivity, which is good for business.

2. Longer working hours

Tied to higher productivity is additional working hours that many employers hope for from their employees.

Workers spend hours on the road due to heavy traffic during rush hours. Unfortunately, most of them cannot escape the daily nightmare on the roads.

Remote working minimizes movements. Most employees turn the extra time into working hours even without realizing.

For mobile app developers, extra working hours are always welcome.

3. Reduced costs

Hiring a new employee means setting up a fully equipped workstation that probably did not exist.

The business covers the cost of setting up and maintaining the workstation. Sometimes labour costs are higher than revenues from some employees.

In times that an economic downturn is expected, maintaining the office setup is not only expensive but also risky.

Bear in mind that transactions have declined across all sectors. Business owners are staring at declining revenues without an end in sight.

Remote working is an advantage for businesses because employees meet most of the costs.

All businesses have to deal with now is paying salaries and ensuring that employees remain connected in terms of communication lines and the internet.

4. Scalability

Let us face reality. It will take some time before everything falls back to normal. In fact, we must brace ourselves for a new normal.

The advantage of remote working is that it is easy to scale the workforce.

Employers can reduce or increase the workforce depending on the situation at hand.

An alternative is to change the nature of engagement while considering the welfare of employees such as reducing the number of working hours.

Employers can then adjust working hours or even hire new employees when revenues begin to increase.

Remote workers have the option of working more than one job. Hence, they are less likely to leave or terminate their contracts because of such changes in working hours or salaries in a recession.

5. Access to expert skills and talent

Remote working opens a business to a global tank of skills and talent in all fields. A business can hire anyone from any location or country with the necessary skills.

Such talent is inaccessible for a physical office setup. A firm can choose to hire experts for a specific task or period.

A large pool of talent also means that employers can negotiate for the best deal.

Highly skilled employees demand high salaries and benefits that businesses can hardly keep up with when in a crisis.

The global market also provides talent that is unavailable or limited in the local job market.

Also Read: How to Work Remotely Effectively During the Coronavirus Crisis

6. Fewer absenteeism cases

Employees get tired of the daily routine of commuting to and from work. Some of the reasons for absences from work are poor.

Luckily, with remote working, employers have fewer requests for off days to deal with within a month.

Remote workers have more control of their work engagement. Hence, they can easily take some hours off where necessary and resume without disrupting the workflow.

Sometimes all a worker needs is a few hours of rest and not a full day off.

7. Flexibility

Remote workers have flexible working hours. The level of flexibility here depends on the nature of the job.

For instance, for mobile app developers like Muva, collaboration is essential throughout the day.

Even with such jobs, employees still have a flexible schedule. Virtual teams can choose the most convenient times to collaborate or hold meetings.

The basic assumption is that remote workers are always working from home. Well, in times of a crisis like the COVID-19 crisis, that is expected.

In normal situations, employees can move from the home office to any other location like a quiet library to work.

The result of such flexible is improved employee satisfaction, which in turn leads to reduced turnover.

A business achieves all this while saving costs, which is good for any company even after the COVID-19 crisis.

Cons

1. Poor relationships and collaboration

Even with the best of technologies, virtual teams lose some aspects of healthy relationships.

In fact, remote workers are at a high risk of social isolation. Think about demanding jobs like software development that require hours of concentration.

Programmers may spend days indoors until a project is complete.

Poor internet connectivity might also interfere with collaboration among team members and with their leaders.

Employers must consider such challenges and advice their employees on steps to take when collaboration issues arise.

Remote workers need constant reminders to balance their work with social events and outdoor activities.

2. Cybersecurity issues

Data security is a major concern for employers, especially when employees are abruptly sent to work from home.

Employers have little control over the internet providers that workers choose.

Public unsecured networks are a major threat to a company’s data security. Hence, the preparation period for remote employees must include data security.

Employees need the training to differentiate between secure and insecure networks.

The training should also include steps to take in case employees suspect a security breach.

Simple lessons like creating strong passwords and keeping them a secret are equally important.

3. Lack of trust

Some business owners have a hard time trusting remote workers.

Although, the employees may participate in online discussions and video conferences, it is hard to verify their commitment to work.

The problem may not arise with employees that just transitioned from the office setup to remote working.

However, hiring new remote employees comes with trust issues. It takes a while before employers can trust them with some details about their business.

Remote workers must work hard enough to eliminate such issues. An easier way is to have occasional physical meetings with remote workers where possible.

Nevertheless, running a business involves taking risks and hiring remote workers is one of them.

Conclusion

Remote working has various benefits for businesses as outlined in this article. However, the concept works differently depending on the type of business. Some firms must maintain a physical office or production unit. If your business allows, a shift to remote working might be the best thing you can do to survive the COVID-19 crisis.

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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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Samsung Unpacked 2020: Here Is Everything You Missed

Samsung holds a popular event every year dabbed “Samsung Unpacked.” In the event, the company reveals its latest devices before they hit the market. This year’s event was held on February 11, 2020.

The popularity and performance of Samsung devices in the global market make the event popular. If you do not have the time to go back and watch the live stream of the event, here is a summary of what may interest you.

Galaxy Z Flip

The rumours about the return of the Samsung flip phone started last year after the Galaxy Fold was introduced. Tech analysts noticed that manufacturers were going back to old designs and reintroducing them with new functions.

Some images leaked of the predicted flip phone. However, you cannot be sure until the manufacturer makes an official announcement.

Well, the flip phone is back with the following features:

– It has a 6.7 inches OLED screen

– The display when folded shows new notifications and battery level

– You can take quick selfies when folded

– The device has a “flex mode,” which a halfway unfold that resembles a laptop-mode

– The flex mode is ideal for hands-free video calls and selfies as well. It clicks at around 120 degrees on the hinge

Galaxy Z Flip: PHOTO|COURTESY

– The three-stop hinge has a layer of fibers that protects the device from dust and debris

– Galaxy Z Flip will start shipping on February 14, 2020 at an introductory price of $1, 380 in black and purple variants. Samsung will release the gold version later.

– The flip phone folds and unfolds more like the Motorola Razr

– It closes to a smaller square compared to its previous version that was released in the 2000s

– The device is 183 grams with 256GB storage, 8GB RAM, and Snapdragon 855 Plus processor

– The estimated shelf life of its Infinity Flex Display is 200,000 folds.

– Galaxy Z Flip has three cameras for photo lovers; a 10-megapixel f/2.4 selfie camera at the front, a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera at the back, and a 12-megapixel regular camera.

– It is has a custom UI that gives a different view of images and videos

– The device has multi-view window support to enable multitasking or using multiple apps

-Galaxy Z Flip is different but it feels and functions like a better foldable design of the Samsung Galaxy Fold that was officially launched in 2019.

Read Also: Samsung Galaxy Fold is finally in Kenya: Why Is Everyone Talking about it?

Galaxy S20

Samsung announced the Galaxy S20 at the event, which comes in three series. The company seems to have been building up to the new decade for the past three years.

In 2018, the phone manufacturer released the Galaxy S9. Last year (2019), the Galaxy S10 hit the market. Many expected  S11 this year but Samsung skipped all the way to S20, perhaps to mark the new year and decade.

Here is what you need to know about the new S20 series:

– The phone comes in three variants that include S20, S20+ and S20 ultra.

– The recommended retail price for S20 starts at $999, S20+ at $1,199 and S20 ultra at $1,399

– The three variants support the 5G network

– The phones have different display sizes that include 6.2 inches,  6.7 inches and 6.9 inches for S20, S20+ and S20 ultra respectively.

– Samsung has gone all out with the cameras of the three devices. S2O has 3 cameras while S20+ and S20 ultra have four cameras.

– The largest cameras in both S20 and S20+ are 64-megapixel. S20 ultra has a 108MP wide angle camera.

– S20 and S20 + have a 3x hybrid optic zoom and up to 30x super-resolution

– S20 ultra has  a 10x hybrid optic zoom and up to 100x super-resolution

– The front selfie camera is 10MP in the S20 and S20 + and 40MP in S20 Ultra

– You can shoot 8k videos with any of three devices

– S20+ and S20 Ultra have a depth sensor that improves the quality of images and videos for the users

– The series comes with the “Single Take” option for videos, which allows you to take a short video and get different versions. You can share the video in looping clips, boomerangs, and AI-enhanced versions among others.

– You can start ordering for the S20 devices from February 21, 2020, but Samsung will release them officially into the market on March 6, 2020

Galaxy Buds +

You may need new buds to go with the new devices. Samsung thought of it and announced the new Galaxy Buds + alongside the new mobile devices. Expect the same quality sound with the buds as it is with the original Buds.

Here is what to expect with the new Buds +

– A dual-driver system in place of the single driver system in the previous make

– The Buds can run up to 11 hours on a full charge

– Samsung sells a charging case alongside the Buds that provides addition with a single pinch that can last for another 11 hours

– The Buds+ can charge wirelessly with the “PowerShare” feature as long as you have a compatible Samsung device. The Company introduced this feature in some of its latest devices in 2019

– You can charge the Buds wirelessly within 3-4 minutes to get enough charge that will last for at least 1 hour

– The Buds + will retail at $149 starting February 14, 2020

Final remarks

Samsung is already shaping the decade with its new range of devices. The capabilities get better in every new device that the Company releases into the market. You can be sure that there will be a new series before competitors can copy the outlined features.

As tech giants shape the future, what are you doing about the technology in your startup? Are you stuck in outdated systems and technologies that slow your business down? Talk to Muva if you want an upgrade or to keep up with the latest technologies in this new decade.

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Pros and Cons of Hiring IT Consultants in Kenya for a Startup

You confronted your fears, took a risk, and implemented your business idea. Your startup seems to be doing well with the client database growing by day or week. Why should you consider the services of IT consultants in Kenya? Is it better to hire a permanent IT professional and hand over all IT-related tasks?

Founders struggle with the decision of hiring consultants for various reasons. Accessing funds to start and grow a new business is perhaps the greatest challenge for business owners. Hence, founders do not prioritize consultancy services for start-ups. Some assume that such services are reserved for large companies.

Another misconception that hinders many entrepreneurs from hiring consultants is the notion that the services are expensive. As we will discover later in this article, hiring a consultant sometimes saves costs. Some founders are just unaware of the potential benefits of engaging consultants at the early stages of their business

If you are still unsure about this decision, let us look at the pro and cons of hiring consultants.

Pros of Hiring ICT Consultants in Kenya

Expertise and Experience

The top reason for hiring consultants is to get expert advice or services. Consultants have years of experience a field that you and/or your IT staff members have limited experience. You benefit from this experience and make the right decisions at the formative stages of your business. Many small businesses start without an IT department. Engaging a consultant gives you access to the same technical expertise that large companies enjoy.

Objective and neutral advice

Sometimes IT consultants come in to solve issues in your business such as a security breach. You may also hire consultants to audit your internal system including its performance and efficiency. The IT staff may have the expertise for such an audit but give feedback that protects their jobs. Consultants give authentic and objective feedback on ICT issues and recommend practical solutions. Consultants enable business owners to face inefficiencies in their business that they would prefer to ignore.

Related: How IT Consultants in Kenya Are Helping Clients Stay Ahead Of Digital Transformation

Fixed upfront costs

Hiring a staff member is different from hiring a consultant. You may incur a high initial cost with a consultant for the expertise and experience. However, consultants give you the full cost of their services upfront. Once you meet the cost, you will enjoy agile technical solutions in your business without recurring costs. Compare the upfront cost with the cost of hiring such an expert with a monthly salary, benefits, and paid annual leave.

Security

Are you worried about data security? Every business, whether small or large, has to plan for cyber security issues. The crimes have become sophisticated over time. Customers lose their confidence easily in a service provider after a security breach. Even with a well-equipped IT department, hiring external experts in data security is advisable. IT consultants in Kenya do not only follow secure procedures but also recommend the best security systems.  

Increased productivity in IT staff

One reason why you may be experiencing slow growth could be that your IT team is underperforming. Choosing the right performance metrics for such a team is difficult if you have limited knowledge and experience in IT. Most entrepreneurs fall into this category. IT consultants will easily determine if you have redundant human resources and recommend changes.

Happy employees

Imagine a working environment with the latest digital technologies and fast systems.  How much time will employees save when working in such an environment? The working environment is directly correlated with the satisfaction of employees. Analyse the technical issues that your staff members complain about regularly. If your IT professional or department has not solved them yet, it is time to call a consultant.

Cons of Hiring IT Consultants in Kenya

We told you that IT consultants give objective or neutral advice and Muva is not different. Hiring a consultant has a downside too.

Availability

The availability of IT consultants depends on the company or individuals that your firm hires. Some are available for 24/7 but most work within normal working hours. Hence, should your systems need quick attention during off-working hours, you will have a challenge accessing quick help. In addition, consultants allocate specific hours to each client and will not be in your premises all day for consultations. Be careful with the choice of an IT consultant to get reliable services.

Also Read: The Top 8 Essentials Of Choosing The Best IT Consultants In Kenya

Lack of continuity

Once a project or contract ends, the engagement of the consultants ends as well. Some consultants offer help after a contract such as maintenance services but the period is limited. While you may want continuous expert services for your business but such an engagement with consultants is costly. The best approach is to hire consultants for a specific project and ensure that your team can run the systems after the consultants leave.

Knowledge loss

The moment a consultant packs and leaves your premises, knowledge leaves as well. You may not realise the loss until you encounter a challenge with the new technology. Internal IT experts do not have the same level of expertise. Otherwise, you would not have hired the consultants in the first place. Encourage your employees to learn as much as possible during their interactions with consultants. The right consultants are always willing to transfer knowledge to other IT professionals.

Budget constraints

The cost of hiring an IT consultant is low in the long term. However, the services of ICT consultants in Kenya may be beyond your company’s budget. Cost constraints limit many small businesses from upgrading to the latest technologies. Compromising the quality of IT services is not the solution. Identify the best consultants and then negotiate for a flexible payment plan.

Final remarks

Saving the best for last does not work in business. Invest as much as you can when building the foundation of your startup. The approach will you save high costs that other entrepreneurs incur when trying to deal with a crisis. Hiring IT consultants in Kenya is one way of ensuring that you get the technical bit right. Consider hiring other types of consultants as well if necessary. Success is inevitable with expert advice on the major aspects of your business.

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How ICT Consultants in Kenya Are Helping Clients Stay Ahead Of Digital Transformation

The technology landscape has been evolving over the years. The rate of change seems to have accelerated in the past few years. Before digital solutions were introduced, small businesses could survive without ICT consultants in Kenya. The case is different today.

Technology has a significant influence on results. Businesses are heavily relying on analysis and the latest technologies to stay ahead of competitors. IT consultants have a role to play in helping businesses adjust their strategy in a rapidly changing tech landscape.

Implementing a business idea is a tough journey. Some challenges like lack of sufficient capital and labor at the initial stages still limit entrepreneurs. The common approach among entrepreneurs is to learn as much as they can to handle most of the tasks in the business.

The strategy works for most departments except the IT department. Unless the entrepreneur has educational background in the IT field, staying ahead of technological changes is difficult. Consultants take off the pressure from entrepreneurs and enable them to focus on growing their businesses

The effect of digital transformation on businesses

Digital technologies are no longer just an option for companies. The technologies are a necessity for business growth. Customers and potential partners have already embrace digital transformation in other aspects of life. Hence, business owners must keep up with the trend or lose their most valued customers.

Mobile is one of the digital trends in the world of business. Customers interact with service providers on their mobile devices. Employees also prefer to work on the go instead of sitting in the office for hours. While some traditional operations must continues, companies must realise the role of mobile solutions.

ICT consultants in Kenya can advise businesses on how to move their operations from desktops to mobile devices. The process may be costly at first but the benefits are long-term. Mobile trends have also forced companies to redesign their websites and explore mobile apps.

Big data has become a common term in the digital world. Every critical decision that a business makes should be based on data. The task for managers is to generate, collect, and analyze big data. However, the greatest challenge is to convert the insights from data into tangible results.

Related: Pros and Cons of Hiring IT Consultants in Kenya for a Startup

How do businesses transform insights or generate ideas from them that will lead to higher sales? Big data is only useful if it influences decisions. It is important for entrepreneurs to keep up with the trends in their respective industries. Competitors look at the same insights and trends. The trick is to transform data into strategies that work for a firm’s business model.

The role of social channels is critical today. The major benefit of social channels to businesses is that the channels provide an easy way to communicate and interact with customers. It is risk to rely on the traditional channels such as emails and chats in a digital world. The channels still play a role but they must combined with modern forms of communication.

Social channels also act as effective marketing channels. In fact, many customers today learn about companies and new products on social media. Hence, companies must maintain a positive image on social media platforms. Social channels provide a platform for employee collaboration.

Virtual teams are now a reality that business owners cannot ignore. Employees want flexibility working hours and conditions. Remote employees sometimes deliver more value to a business because of the reduced costs. However, they need the right communication tools to collaborate with other remote employees.

Another digital trend that businesses cannot ignore is cloud computing. The technology has enhanced flexibility and agility in businesses. With cloud computing, businesses use modern infrastructure in their operations at low costs. The main concern when shifting to cloud computing is the security implications.

The role of IT consultants in a digital world

Information on the latest digital technologies is readily available to entrepreneurs. Technology has made it easy for business owners to access information on how to grow their business fast. However, the challenge comes in choosing the right digital technologies for a business. The implementation of the chosen technologies is also a challenge to entrepreneurs.

ICT consultants in Kenya help a business choose and implement the right technologies. For instance, consultants can help companies chose the right cloud technology while considering data security. Digital transformation has invited many players in the market including data fraudsters. Working with consultants is important, especially when exploring new technologies.

It consultants enable entrepreneurs to focus on business growth. Entrepreneurs struggle with delegating responsibilities at the initial stages of building their business. The professionals may want to remain in charge of all operations and micro-manage everything. Hence, most companies start considering consultants after their operations expand.

The best approach when building a business is to get everything right from the beginning. The growth process is faster when the right technologies are in place. Consultants also offer business tips beyond the obvious technical advice. Hence, entrepreneurs should not consider the size of their business when hiring IT consultants.

In addition to offering customized advice to business owners, consultants help through the implementation stage. Employees naturally resist change, including technical change when they do not understand its benefits clearly. Moving users from a working system to a new system is a task, even when the new system is more effective than the old system.

IT consultants are trained to handle such resistance and train users in a way that they easily transition to new technologies. Some of the digital tools require constant updates. Consultants can handle such updates while employees focus on core operations. In addition, IT consultants save entrepreneurs the huge cost of establishing a fully equipped IT department.

Final thoughts

Digital technologies will continue to transform operations in businesses. Entrepreneurs cannot ignore the transformation or hold on to the traditional way of doing business. Following new trends requires time off work, which entrepreneurs and their staff may not have. ICT consultants in Kenya enable businesses to choose the right digital tools that suit their business model. The consultants help the businesses to adopt the tools in their daily operations and save the cost of hiring IT experts on long-term contracts.

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