BusinessDay
Nigeria's leading finance and market intelligence news report.

COVID-19 changed how we work; here’s what employers must consider for the future

Against the backdrop of the changes in the workplace wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, experts in the human capital and workplace safety space have harped on the need for employers of labour to build necessary buffers that will mitigate the impact of disruptions on staff productivity and output.

The experts, who spoke at the second edition of BusinessDay’s annual workplace health and wellbeing conference on Wednesday themed “Post-officism: Trauma or Triumph, Surveying Workplace Health One Year after the Index Case”, shared lessons learnt in 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nigeria recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19 in February 2020. Since then, the number of cases has risen to over 153,000 with over 1,000 deaths, according to data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Lockdown measures by the Federal Government in March 2020 to curb the spread of the virus disrupted economic activities and companies were forced to either cease operations or reform business models and modes of operations in order to survive.

Over the past year, the pandemic has altered the workplace environment in so many ways. Activities in the corporate environment have been reformed to involve remote working, online meetings and conferences, limited boundaries between work and home, the evolution of new workplace skills, and other frequent changes in the workplace environment, Ogho Okiti, managing director, BusinessDay Media Limited, said in his welcome address at the conference.

These changes had implications for productivity, health and wellbeing, Okiti said.

“There is still so much uncertainty about what the immediate future holds because we may never return to the pre-COVID era in the workplace,” he said.

It was the need to understand the disruptions occasioned by the pandemic in order to improve health, wellbeing, and productivity in the workplace, of employers and families, that necessitated the theme of the conference.

Speaking during a panel session focused on “Better prepared next time: How organizations coped and lessons from the data”, Busola Alofe, registrar/CEO, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPM), said in dealing with disruptions, it was necessary to prioritize the needs of employees as they are central to the productivity and development of the organization.

Going forward, she said, there are some modalities that companies must adopt in reforming their operations model to suit various conditions.

“It is necessary to be proactive while also revamping the operating model to become more adaptive to shocks. The management should readily comply with all government regulations and should also be at the frontline of communication to avoid misinformation,” Alofe said.

Funke Amobi, country head, human capital, Stanbic IBTC Plc, said organizations need to adopt the three R response – rapid response, resilience response and recovery response – which should all be beneficial to the employees.

“Employee wellbeing should be paramount, while organizations launch prompt dispensation of adequate information. In addition, a stable and properly managed platform should be made available for workers in order to explore full productivity options,” she said.

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