Since the Covid-19 lockdown and most people working remotely, businesses experienced a dip in profits- causing many to slash salaries or cut back on benefits. Now the lockdown is officially over, many businesses open up, and social gatherings now allowed, things ought to go back to normal right? Not so fast, you’d still have to wear a face mask to go into shops as the threat of Coronavirus still lingers in the air. What we should accept now is the new normal, where many like tech giants Facebook, Google, Twitter have adopted employees working from home.

As the lockdown eases globally, employers are asking their staff to return back to the office but it seems most people would rather stay home. A recent survey of 20,000 people conducted by Cardiff University and the University of Southampton showed that 90% of workers were keen to continue working from home.

Some companies are offering perks for workers to return to the office. In the UK, businesses are offering incentives to coax staff back to work using free lunch, extra childcare, and parking space. For example, JP Morgan in London are using an in-house app for senior staff to gift parking space to juniors. So should the same be done in Nigeria?

Though there is no data on Nigeria yet, it is widely believed people feel the same way about working remotely- especially for those in the tech sector. Despite the flattened curve, many people are still concerned about the covid-19 pandemic as no vaccine has been distributed yet, and people are still able to contract the virus.

Traffic jam in Lagos
[Photo Credit: TheGuardianng]

For workers in congested cities like Lagos, returning back to the office means (aside from the safety risks) spending hours in traffic to get to work- thus more time spent commuting rather than working . That coupled with work overload can cause unnecessary stress, and runs the risk of decreasing employee morale. A Havard Business School research paper claimed there was a negative correlation between commute time and work productivity (in other words, more time spent on the road is costly to performance). So rushing back to work may not always be a good idea.

With people enjoying working from home, it isn’t far-fetched for companies to offer incentives so people can be motivated to return to work in the office. A sharp return to the office and work overload runs the risk of decreasing employee morale. Whereas offering incentives does the opposite, as it shows employees they are valued.

A lot of people agree that remote work is the future. Everything is moving online, people have adjusted to working remotely, Zoom meetings are more prevalent, and there are many apps with operations management tools that allow SMEs transition online smoothly. Tech has fast tracked the new normal, and there are good alternatives to working physically. So Nigerian companies would do well to provide incentives for their employees to return to the office life in order to limit stress improve morale, and their productivity.

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