The increasing spread of the COVID-19 pandemic locally has led to a recent wave of border closure, institution shutdowns and enforcement of social distancing by government.

As a business owner, you have an integral role to play but first we cannot continue without acknowledging the toll this will take on your business.

These are turbulent times for your business, we can only encourage you to find it within yourself to weather this storm. We will overcome and emerge stronger and better business owners. We encourage you to be kind to everyone – your team, your customers, your vendors, your suppliers, everyone. We need each other to overcome these trying times.

At this time more than ever, we are also reminded by the poem of 12th century Iranian poet, Saadi who said:

All human beings are members of one frame,

Since all, at first, from the same essence came.

When time afflicts a limb with pain

The other limbs at rest cannot remain.

If thou feel not for other’s misery

A human being is no name for thee.”

COVID-19 not only demands an adjustment in how you live as an individual but also how you conduct your business going forward. It is therefore important to discuss the increasingly popular topic but rather unpopular practice in Nigeria – the remote working culture.

What The Remote Work Culture ‘is not’

A major misconception about remote work is that it is synonymous to ‘flex work’ or work at your convenience. Whilst there is some convenience involved, remote work in simple terms means you are working outside of a traditional work environment. It is based on the concept that work does not need to be done in a specific place to be executed successfully. It demands the same productivity level and many times, the same work hours as when you are in an office.

Why should I consider the remote work culture?

Firstly, on a ‘COVID-19’ note, for the benefit and safety of your employees, and the country as a whole, it is a wise choice.

Taking the shine away from the pandemic however, building a remote working culture holds great promises. The most prominent is increased productivity. Increased productivity is tied to the flexible lifestyle the culture offers employees. This means that instead of your staff member waking up before the sun and spending time arguing ‘change’ with a danfo conductor, he could spend that time hitting the gym or making breakfast in order to get ready for work.

Also, as a business, this could also help save the cost of rent, furniture and other expenses centered around having a traditional office space. As a small and growing business, this could mean a lot. Looking away from margins, it is reported that remote working keeps employees engaged and happy; and a happy employee will give his/her optimal best to your business.

You also stand a chance of retaining your top talents and consequently reducing employee turnover with a remote working culture. A recent research on remote work reported that 54% of employees said they would change jobs for one that offered them more flexibility.

Lastly, remote work is a needed measure in the prevention of the spread of the virus and here at DIYlaw, we have already taken that bold step in our bid to help flatten the curve (How DIYlaw is flattening the curve).

How do I go about creating a remote work culture?

Remote work can be done in a variety of ways. Some popular methods include:

  • Work from home: This involves employees working remotely from their homes, home offices, nearby cafes or restaurants.
  • Co-working spaces: These are more like a halfway point between a traditional office and a non-traditional work-space, giving you the comfort of working from home and combining it with the professional amenities and networking opportunities that you would find in a corporate environment. For these COVID-19 times, we strongly recommend against this option.

Whichever of these methods you choose, the key is to ensure your employees have the benefit of location flexibility.

Managing employees in a remote work culture

As with every other practice, you will have to start, edit and then find the best fit for your own business. However, a good and safe place to start is with your employee contract.

We talk in detail about this important document here.

An employee contract must state clearly the job information or description, benefits and compensations, equity grants(as applicable), restrictive clauses, confidentiality obligations(IP protection) and terms of termination. In the case of a remote worker, his/her job contract must also clearly state:

  • the mode of work(fully or partially remote);
  • it must also indicate the number of work hours;
  • the mode of communication and reporting;
  • use of office property and liability.

The peculiarity of the role or function will also play a huge part in what the contract entails. You can get a standard employee contract here.

In addition to this, you can also have a remote work policy to serve as a guide to you and your employees as you implement a remote work culture. This policy would help in managing your expectations from your employees.

Finally, in these uncertain times, we advocate that you please stay safe, practise extreme hygiene, eat loads of fruits and vegetables, use vitamins, stay hydrated, practise social distancing and be kind to one another.