The covid pandemic came with waves of changes which affected different sectors of business. While most ventures could not survive the different waves of the pandemic, others saw opportunities in them and revolutionize their business and strategies. Business owners could see ways to cut down costs and increase productivity by leveraging technology.
I recalled sometime in 2018 when the traffic situation in Lagos state almost became endemic. In an evening radio program, people were lamenting and making suggestions on how government so expand the road, create more alternative roads, and even introduce buses or intrastate rain lines, one of the callers made an interesting suggestion. He proposed that organizations should work out a schedule for their staff to take turns in coming to the office weakly. His submission was that, if half of the workforce in Lagos State should work from home at any given time, it will decongest the roads.
It seemed not to be a great idea. People did not see the possibility of that happening. It was unimaginable and, how could that even work. Imagine half of the staff of Lagos Business School working from home. There is no system in place to support such a working pattern. In the year 2020 covid came, and everybody had to stay at home.
Some businesses went from staying at home to the grave, while others figured out how to sustain their business while staying at home. Phrases such as “work from home” became very popular. Technology was the major tool that made this transition possible. Organizations started to invest in collaborating tools, internet services and any form of technology that will facilitate the new normal. Most organizations who see the Information Technology (IT) department as a serious overhead started appreciating their IT team.
Although the pandemic had a significant negative impact on the economy and on business, it was an eye-opener for some organizations. They saw that the new model significantly reduced their operation cost. A lot of businesses spent heavily on rent for office space or building, running generators to power the building, servicing air conditioners, and elevators and servicing the contract of different vendors that render support services. Some organizations do provide breakfast and lunch for the staff. While their staff work from home, they made huge savings in these cost areas.
Some people argue that more money was sped on providing internet service for the staff who work from home. Some businesses also gave some incentives to support the availability of power during work from home. However, all these additional expenses to facilitate the remote work was in no way close to the huge cost of daily operations. I know some companies that, after 3 months of the lockdown, decided not to come back to the office again. They sold most of their office assets and never renewed their rent when it expired. Their physical servers were installed in a colocation site while they migrated 70% of their infrastructure to the cloud.
Education institutions adopted remote learning. Although it came with some costs in the set up the infrastructure that supports efficient online learning, on the other side, I brought flexibility and expanded reachability to remote clients.
While most businesses are making a full return to the on-premises mode of working, I think business owners and managers should consider the possibilities and benefits of allowing most of their staff to work from home. I believe the pros outweigh the cons. If that is the case, it should be considered the way to go.