Musterpoint 18th Aug, 2020 Business

Work from Home Versus Work Closer Home

From recent events, most companies have come to realize that remote working actually works. Many companies are embracing the idea. For instance, Andela has gone fully remote while some other companies are running hybrid models of work from home (WFH) or from an office.

For major cities in Nigeria and particularly Lagos – with the infrastructural deficit in the city; WFH would only be effective when several factors like reliable power, fast and reliable internet, suitable accommodation, etc., are put in place. These factors, however, cannot be fixed in the immediate term, hence the need for businesses to rethink what type of model will be required to deliver the benefits of working from an office to remote or WFH. My submission is that what is needed is a solution that enables companies to provide Proximity Workspaces for their team – a solution that would have all the amenities needed in order to be very productive.

Again, because of the challenge of having access to reliable basic amenities such as power and internet in remote residential communities, I believe businesses can adopt a Work Closer Home (WCH) model as an alternative to WFH in Nigeria. This would be a more efficient, and sustainable alternative to WFH. With WCH, companies can find it easier to employ and onboard talents that do not reside close to commercial clusters. This will definitely widen the talent pool and help companies prioritize talent over geography (area of residence) – a very vital aspect of building a productive business.

Also, by recruiting and building teams in locations with a lower cost of living, a company can essentially staff at reduced costs. For instance, the rate required to staff a senior software engineer that has to live in Ikoyi, Victoria Island, or Lekki will be less than that required for the one that can live in Yaba, Ikeja, Egbeda, Abule Egba, or Ikorodu. Companies can have their teams operate from Proximity Workspaces closer home.

Secondly, companies can grow or downsize if necessary, where and when they need to with greater agility. If there is anything the year 2020 has taught us, it's this: it is difficult to predict the next month, talk more of 5 or 10 years. The logic behind holding multi-year leases is now very questionable. Flexibility is the key to riding out the foreseeable future.

WCH helps companies to be physically responsible, as companies do not have to front-load capital, particularly with Proximity Workspaces that allows you to shift your capital expense to business growth while it takes care of rent, furniture, fixtures, and equipment, offering potential cost savings.

With WCH powered by Proximity Workspaces, fast-growing companies with less clarity on their growth curve are afforded the agility they need to grow, while office obligations can be quickly adjusted as activity and performance dictates.

In a VUCA business world, companies owe it to themselves to consider the benefits of flexible Proximity Workspaces which provides many of the benefits of a traditional office – meeting space, high-speed Internet, culture building, etc., – but without the high capital expense and long-term commitment associated with traditional office spaces.