By Emmanuel Mbabazi
It is now been about 15 years since technology in Uganda has revolved from one generation to another. Today, the current technology is now ready and able to support the teleworkers environment with a service called telecommuting.
Telecommuting is basically a work arrangement that allows employees to work from the comfort of their homes or any other location while travelling. Teleworkers often have the opportunity of working late nights or when they rise up early in the morning to complete their work as the sun rises.
The working from home concept has been very successful in the ICT developed nations such as the US, Canada, UK, Australia and South Africa. Telecommuting applies to an employee’s work responsibilities and personal work style being well matched with working away from office. Large multinational companies in these countries adopted the cost saving culture that encompassed factors such as reduced office space, less equipment needs, commercial utilities (water and electricity), insurance, and lots of grapevine in brick and mortar offices.
One of the most prominent merits about the teleworker is the issue of high productivity and quality of work. A recent case study carried out in Uganda showed that about 62% of employees would be able to accomplish their work from home once they became teleworkers. The research from the University of Texas also showed that teleworkers tend to work five hours more than their counterparts in office.
In Uganda today, there is a high rate of employee turnover in many growing and even seemingly stable companies. This is due to a number of factors such as disability, less qualified staff and mothers on maternal leave. The research also revealed that the disabled persons and 62.96% of the mothers on maternity leave would continue to offer their valuable services to their employers while working from home. The teleworkers will be less likely to quit their current jobs due to enough flexibility at home. From the employer’s perspective, this would result in very low training and recruitment costs.
Telecommuting also improves moral and greatly reduces stress amongst employees that would work from home. A big number of employees and employers would agree with me that commuting to the central business district of Kampala is a nightmare. People hate driving to work due to the high fuel costs, time spent on the road in traffic jams, and also money spent buying new clothes. When Ugandan companies embrace this telecommuting phenomenon, then the environment would be saved from the carbon footprint of air pollution, and fewer emissions, less waste and less traffic accidents on our road.
Under stressful circumstances in office, 85% of all chronic diseases that are life threatening are attributed to stress. The mitigation of stress keeps the employees longer, healthier and happier. Greater customer satisfaction is also achieved. The employee pays much attention to detail; and due to high experience, this teleworker would have a faster response to the customer’s requests.
The introduction of products and services such as computers, modems, printers, cloud computing, 4G/LTE, smart phones, etc provided by the current telecom companies such as MTN Uganda, help to maintain contact between the employers and their teleworkers. With the cloud based efficiencies, employers are not only key strokes away, but can also use a system that views and monitors employee activity and maintain regular communication with employees working from home. Employers are then able to have a peace of mind with low cost software in the cloud with up-to-the minute status reports from the teleworkers.
“Gone are the days when managers measure work output by employee attendance. Today’s high-tech managers measure work output by results.”
Finally, telecommuters may be required to maintain regular contact with their commuter colleagues in the conventional setting by way of using other services such as Facebook, twitter, Skype, messenger, etc that are embedded in their computers. They would also need to visit the brick and mortar offices at least three times a week or so. With telecommuting in place, the employers will realise high productivity, quality and good cost saving factors resulting into high revenues generated by the teleworkers. The teleworkers in return would experience a great new digital environment.
The writer is an Alumni of Sikkim Manipal University - India (ISBAT campus)