By Tonny Tugee, SEACOM Managing Director: East and North East Africa
The future of work has been a topic on the minds of business owners across the world for years. Terms like ‘Digital Transformation’ and ‘4IR’ have become buzzwords in almost every sector, with organisations looking at ways to optimise their processes by implementing new technologies. For many, these processes had been set out as a future plan whereas now, they’ve been accelerated due to current global events.
So, how has the conversation changed since then?
Overnight, everything that was once separate in our daily routine has now become one. Your home has become a business hub while remote working has quickly turned into “the new normal” and the “future of work”. It’s more than that, though; it’s about being able to work anywhere regardless of the location.
This supports the notion that “work is something you do, not somewhere you go”. By being forced to work in isolation, people can choose their workspace. It’s no longer a question of where we work, but how we work and how we’ll be able to facilitate this digital transgression as a nation.
For this to become a reality globally, rapid progress needs to be made concerning providing Internet to the areas that need it the most. This requires having the proper infrastructure in place, even in remote locations in Africa.
We need to make a continuous investment into 3G, 4G, and 5G networks, for example, to offer faster Internet speeds across the continent. The establishment of these technologies will lead to greater accessibility in a world of opportunities that includes virtual classrooms, self-driving cars, drones, and even remote surgery.
The role of Artificial Intelligence in Kenya
A floating balloon – equipped with antennas and powered by photovoltaic panels has been implemented to ensure that remote areas of Kenya have Internet access during this pandemic. AI technology moves the balloon up and down to utilise the air currents to travel optimally and ensure a stable Internet connection.
The reality? Artificial intelligence has the potential to instantly change the future, and the fact that the entire world could switch to remote working overnight is a testament to that.
The importance of human interaction
AI, however, cannot replicate a human connection. We are sociable creatures that thrive on interaction. Virtual meetings can bridge this gap, but it’s not the same, and can often feel a bit invasive.
Virtual meetings allow attendees to see you and your surroundings, invading your personal space and blurring the line between work and home. Just as these virtual meetings take over your home, so do other aspects. You may find yourself working obscure hours or combining work and home activities like working in bed. So, how do we keep the two separate?
Create “no-go” zones. This means that during the day, these areas do not exist. Limit yourself to your office area, kitchen and bathroom to ensure productivity. You will also need to create “no-go” zones for your family. While you’re working, you are not home – the only thing that’s changed is your location, not the work being done. This will not only assist you in completing tasks but will also give a professional space to liaise with colleagues and clients.
The workspace of the future
How we interact with colleagues and clients will change drastically. In-person meetings will become outdated and move into a virtual space. This sounds like an impersonal approach to business, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s time to rethink your approach to collaborating with colleagues and to reaffirm your relationship with consumers. You have all the tools available to keep in contact with them. You just need to utilise them.
While these virtual meetings have had a negative connotation due to reduced face-to-face time, this perception has quickly changed due to the global pandemic. It is now vital to invest in proper communication with clients as well as your colleagues to strengthen existing relationships.
The future of work will be shaped by what we are doing now to facilitate this much-needed change. We’ve made a positive start on our journey to digital innovation, but we need to remember that it doesn’t need to end here.
It’s time to change the conversation and stop referring to our current situation as “the new normal”. Instead, we should be asking ourselves how we can utilise our current experience to ensure a better tomorrow.