The past couple of months has been a tragedy all around the world. As it became apparent that companies will have to work remotely for some time, we also faced the question: how do we make that work?
Here is a step by step journey of Addis Software’s since the first case COVID 19 case reported in Ethiopia. Including the challenges we faced, how we solved them, how we managed to work with our partner SWEETOPA, and a couple of tips to support your team while working from home.
#March13 First Coronavirus case Ethiopia
Addis Software is a company with a small number of teams of Software Engineers and interns. When we heard the news that the first confirmed COVID-19 case had been reported in Ethiopia, we were on our lunch break and looked at each other with a doubtful face. We were shocked, frustrated, scared as if the virus would come and catch us right away. Even though we heard a lot of information about the pandemic, we didn’t know what to do when it is actually real.
We soon bought enough hand sanitizers and disinfectants to clean up our desks and computers whenever we remember to do it. We started to apply frequent handwashing and all the necessary physical distancing rules in our office in a more serious way than before.
A couple of days later, the city’s frustration increased, and the Ethiopian government decided to shut down schools and universities, limit movement around state borders. Everything looked like it was happening at a speed of light.
#March20 Our interns left
Shutting down universities was the first thing the Ethiopian government did to prevent the spread of the virus inside university compounds. Our interns were from Addis Ababa University; however, they were from different parts of the country. They were told to pack their items and leave their campus with a bus their university arranged; to their home cities.
This was a hard time for us, our interns just got started, and now they left? We were learning a lot from them and the internship journey as well.
We gave them a break until they settled down and encouraged them to get back to work when they are ready. To be honest, they were doing a fantastic job. We wanted them to continue to work with us and learn even when they are home.
#March23 Work from home test period
For Addis Software and our partner SWEETOPIA, this period came with uncertainties and difficulties. We thought of different ways to keep our Employees and everyone safe while working productively.
This was a period for us to test whether we could be able to achieve both to work remotely and work from home. We wanted to test many factors that will affect our working performance. Such as internet speed, destruction, and etcetera.
It looked like it worked! The only fear was the internet speed in our homes was different, some of us had a good internet speed, and some of us slow. Hoping this would be fixed, we took the week to set up our home offices, learn to communicate, and all new things related to the new culture.
#April #StayAtHome #WorkFromHome
We don’t know for how long but decided to close our office and completely shift to working from home for two reasons. The first and crucial reason was for the safety of our team and their families and beloved ones. The second reason was that the Ethiopian government highly encouraged whoever can to stay at home and work from home for the safety of everyone. We believed our input was significant at such times.
If companies like us whose job can be done remotely can make their Employees work from home, large crowds in public transport areas, in buildings, in restaurants, will be less, and this means the more people stay at home, the less the spread of the virus will be. We believe this will be a small input to save many lives and decrease the burden on front-line health workers.
#May, June, and July
Three months and the pandemic is still increasing. Unbeleivalabe! On our journey of work from home in the past couple of months, we have surprisingly found that our employees are more productive. Based on the feedback we collect from our team we also found out our employees said that they feel safe and are happy to work from home. They are even happier with their job than ever.
“I love the new normal….”One of our team
Despite the benefit, remote work can still be a challenge. Here the significant difficulties we countered
- Prioritizing work
Managing your job is hard enough. Then there’s the constant temptation to watch one episode of your favorite show during your work break, and all other reasons which may lead to procrastinating on a project. All of a sudden, and you have nothing to show for the day. Remote workers need to be self-motivated at time management because we don’t have others regularly overlooking our work or managing our time.
You’ll likely have to deal with different kinds of interruptions and distractions, whether it’s your small rented house owner needing your help to fix their broken water or your friends dropping by unannounced.
It’s especially hard if you have very young siblings, who don’t understand that they can see you, but you’re not available to play.
- Loneliness and lack of human interaction
In some cases, Working from home can be isolating, and stressful for employees who live alone and may face the problem of lack of human interaction
- Technology hiccups
Living in Ethiopia, it is hard to rely 100% neither on the internet provider nor the Electric power providers for remote work. The Ethiopian power system has faced more frequent, widely spread, and extended blackouts during this summer.
- Help Employees manage distractions
- Allow employees to work on flexible hours
- Set rules for virtual meetings
- Schedule regular one on one check-ins
- Arrange mechanisms to work locally (on your computer ) whenever there is a power outage or internet cut-offs for a short period.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!