Workers want remote jobs, even at less pay

Employees have not known more freedom, less costs and flexibility that allowed them to work multiple jobs than they did during the Covid-19 era and some are finding it difficult to resume full time work.

Over the last two years, many workers especially young people joining the job market, found themselves adopting the art of sending emails in pajamas, having zoom meetings in only half a suit with our lower halves covered in shorts.

As employers compel workers to resume full time office work, some are opting to quit saying they would rather accept a low-paying job if it is to give them the flexibility they experienced during Covid-19.

Two jobs supplement income

“I would take a slightly lower paying primary job that offers me some freedom to do something else,” one of my friends tells me.

My friend works two jobs, a primary 8-5 and a remote data entry job which doubles down as a secondary one. He requests to remain anonymous for fear of being identified by the employer, but says that having two jobs is better than having one primary one since it supplements his skills, networks and income.

“I don’t mind being paid slightly lower than the average in exchange for some “freedom” to do something “extra,” he said. “Sahizi mtu hawezi dishi vizuri na skill ama career moja tu!, Inabidi ukue all round.” (in the current economic situation you cannot sustain living on one job or one career you need multiple jobs).

Considering how most entry level jobs pay here in Kenya, one might be inclined to think he is right. As companies go back to their normal work routines, we are seeing employees come back to their offices with a lot of job anxieties. They are worried about long commute hours in the mornings and evenings and missing out on family that is affecting morale in the workplace.

Currently, employers are experimenting with everything including hybrid work. Remote jobs are becoming common by day and companies are accepting their importance in today’s society.

Another friend who largely benefited from this rise agreed to engage with us but wished to remain anonymous. For a little over three years, she’s been doing all her work remotely and as things stand, she’s going to be at it a while longer.

Strict work routines

“Remote working is a gift given to us by technology and we should embrace it,” she said with a smile on her face. She’s mainly worked as a virtual assistant with few short stints as a customer service rep.

“Sikumbuki mara ya mwisho I even bought official shoes or trousers, nakuanga official tu from waist up” she goes on.

Karen was fresh from college on the onset of COVID and looking for a job. She got a remote job as a customer service rep for an Asian-based company. After her first remote job, she was convinced that she only wanted remote jobs for as long as she could get them.

On asking why she preferred remote jobs, she clearly had a myriad of reasons but narrowed down to what she deemed relevant. “It offers me flexibility and personalization.”

Remote working mainly entails working from home. She has therefore curated her workspace to her own liking, something that makes her more inclined to liking her job. “On top of that, I get to bypass the hefty morning traffic, constant fashion police, strict work routines that my 8-5 colleagues endure. And I get to snack whenever I want to.”

As a virtual assistant for someone in another continent, she said she mostly work during the night due to the time difference. She can also preplan all her work for the week and finish it within three days, leaving her with a lot of free time to focus on improving myself and other things. This often leaves her feeling so fulfilled and happy with my work.

Remote work policies

Remote working was present but it was never as big as it it’s currently. The biggest contributor so far has been the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to COVID-19, only a fraction of the global workforce engaged in remote work. However, then they were in actual need for remote working. There was an immediate necessity by companies and organizations so they could maintain their operations.

The need for physical distancing led businesses across various industries to rapidly implement remote work policies. Banks went online, businesses, food delivery services, and learning platforms etc all followed suit. 

With time employees demonstrated their ability to work effectively from home and employers recognized the potential benefits of this arrangement, such as improved work-life balance and increased productivity. Remote jobs also demonstrated a drastic reduction in office space costs which was also a plus.

The technological advancements and cutting edge connectivity also played a great role. Today the world is a global village because of the internet and seemingly fast internet speeds. You can easily have a real-time chat, conference or video call right now with someone in Canada provided there’s an internet connection.

The rise of remote work wouldn’t have been possible without these advancements in digital technology. High-speed internet, cloud-based collaboration tools, and video conferencing platforms became lifelines for businesses during the pandemic.

As these technologies matured and became more accessible, remote teams seamlessly collaborated, overcoming geographical barriers.

Read also: Is the rise in banking fraud correlated to job cuts?

Hybrid working models

Initially remote jobs were met with a lot of  skepticism. However, its success during the pandemic reshaped employer attitudes towards flexible work arrangements. Many companies observed that remote employees could remain just as productive, if not more so, than their in-office counterparts.

Consequently, a growing number of organizations began embracing hybrid work models. They started allowing employees to split their time between home and the office. This shift in mindset not only increased employee satisfaction but also widened the talent pool. Companies could recruit from a more diverse geographic range globally.

With companies becoming less dependent on central office locations, businesses were now tapping into a global talent pool. This was enabling them to hire the best candidates regardless of their physical location. Right now it’s not so rare to hear someone say they have an Indian colleague.

This is proving to be a great development. It is opening doors for employers and employees from all over to interact. This decentralization fosters diversity and inclusion while encouraging a more equitable distribution of job opportunities.

Working remotely has also presented employees with greater control over their schedules. It is fostering a better work-life integration. Reduced commuting time and the ability to design personalized workspaces are quite irresistible perks.

Remote employees also tend to experience less burnout and generally increased well-being. This newfound balance has positively impacted mental health and overall job satisfaction according to this Forbes survey.

It has also impacted the environment positively with fewer employees commuting to work hence reduced reliance on vehicles and physical office spaces. This directly reduces the emissions to the atmosphere.

Companies also witnessed cost savings related to office utilities, maintenance, and overhead expenses. Consequently, this is making remote work an eco-friendly and cost-effective solution.

A secondary job

Furthermore, the rise of remote working in Kenya has also led to the emergence of startups that tap into the global talent pools and have the option of completely working remotely saving the young businesses the initial costs and giving them better lifelines or headstarts

Co-working spaces and shared office facilities are also on the rise. Such spaces cater to individuals who prefer a dedicated work environment but still want the benefits of remote working.

Such spaces offer amenities such as high-speed internet, meeting rooms, and a professional setting, making them an attractive option for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and employees who occasionally need a physical workspace.

Remote jobs offer flexibility giving people more time in which they can take up a secondary job which can supplement one’s income . For instance jobs like research, data entry, customer service and digital marketing have been among the most sought after remote jobs.

If you’re on LinkedIn you’ve occasionally come across jobs advertised with the classification of being remote. You can tend to the primary one by day and by day’s end you’re still able to tend to the secondary remote that only needs your presence in front of a screen clicking a few buttons here and there.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for change that spurred the rapid adoption of remote work across industries across the country and the world. Businesses navigated through uncertain times as they discovered the immense potential remote work held for both employers and employees.

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