Early last year when the Coronavirus proliferated in Kenya and the globe at large, most businesses were affected in the pandemic that has since proved to be one of the worst peacetime crises, perhaps worse than the terror attacks in the wake of the new millennium and the global financial collapse of 2008. The pandemic has disrupted many economies and crippled businesses in general. It has altered how people work and has originated a rapid paradigm shift to what is now called the new normal. Paradoxically, the pandemic has also catalysed a renaissance of innovation and the adoption of new methodologies of working that if meticulously leveraged, could become the better alternative that will in the long run prove to yield better results and which could be the long-awaited major break for numerous businesses.
KCIC Group as a leader in the climate change and sustainable development sectors has made remarkable strides in all its subsidiaries that is, Kenya Climate Innovation Center, Kenya Climate Ventures and KCIC Consulting Ltd, in adapting to the new normal. KCIC supports Micro, Small and Medium sized Enterprises (MSMEs) through technical support and financing as well as consulting services has metamorphosed their business operations to incorporate hybrid work for its internal processes as well as for those of their clients.
“Our modus operandi of business operations has transformed, and it will never be the same again. Businesses have tasted and seen that hybrid work is the way to go, and business can make optimum yields by working remotely and digitally,” Dr. Edward Mungai, the KCIC Group CEO and a global sustainability expert explains. “As I train corporations on sustainability, I emphasise that businesses must adopt and keep pace with modern technology. It is high time companies decentralise their operations and part of this will be promoting remote work.” Over the last nine years, KCIC has become a leader that has helped businesses in the climate space grow and create employment in the sectors of renewable energy, agribusiness, commercial forestry and water and waste management. The development of these sectors is expected to continue creating an impact in Kenya as more consumers opt for climate-friendly companies as well as those supporting sustainable development.
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For a company that has doubled in the last one year in terms of its programmes, projects and staff numbers, KCIC prides itself on becoming a hybrid workplace by amalgamating both on-site and far-flung work location. “We have automated most of our operations so that staff do not have to meet physically. We however promote staff interactions and teamwork without having our teams meet physically. Our clients can now get our services online, and we have also assisted them to trade and automate through e-commerce and affiliated services,” Dr. Mungai says. He asserts that the new normal is there to stay and businesses should seek ways of ensuring customer satisfaction and confidence notwithstanding the post-covid-19 practices. Managers now gather that online meetings and business operations can be as fruitful as physical meetings. Online commerce, social media and digitisation of processes are the new powerful tools that will take companies to higher levels of outputs.
KCIC Consulting Ltd has for instance worked with different clients to support them with automation especially in the fields of private sector development, sustainability, knowledge management and development communication. “We have had a number of clients approach us so that we can work with them to transform their companies to remain afloat post-coronavirus. What we encourage them with is that the future is already here and we must acclimatize to it,” Prabhakar Vanam, the CEO of KCIC Consulting explains. The uptake of digital transformation has been uptaken by many customers who find it more effective because they are able to access resources with a lot of ease and convenience.
The impromptu transformation of businesses is also likely to lead to mental health disorders. If you get to imagine how an outgoing person who may have been used to seeing colleagues and/or customers around every day, then suddenly this person is all alone, for days and weeks, coupling this with making such a person venture into unfamiliar technologies, this can definitely be stressful. Many entrepreneurs and employees have been affected by mental health conditions.
KCIC Group has managed this for their staff and clients by organising counselling sessions on mental health. The company has engaged into a partnership with a counselling center that offers real time stress management services. Within their intranet, Wazushi, staff can get in touch with a counsellor anonymously. Notably, as companies look forward to a future of combined remote working and alternating this with working from the office, there is a need to manage how people think or feel when not working within the office. Corporations are now learning this and taking care of the wellbeing of their employees. This has in turn boosted productivity notwithstanding where employees are working from.
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Even as the country anticipates for a healthier future, the Covid-19 control measures need not be abandoned. Sanitisation and social distancing will be among the key things that will ensure that there are no future outbreaks. As an example, the Spanish Flu that changed the world one century ago by killing between 50 – 100 million people came from unsanitary conditions (especially in the trenches that had been excavated during the First World War along the French border). The insanitation propagated the incubation and spread of the flu. It is therefore evident that companies need to install Covid-19 control procedures within their offices and ask their employees to spread the same measures to their homes.
For businesses to remain afloat, and for the wellbeing of staff to be taken care of, there is a need to learn key lessons from the Covid-19 era. The world remains positive that it will beat the pandemic, and can only hope to forestall any future pandemics. But the lessons learnt are numerous, the fundamental of them all being that unforeseen circumstances can erupt and set a business off-balance. Industries thus need to be always prepared to face any knock-on challenges by continuously keeping abreast with innovation and sustainability.
The writer is a Communication Manager at KCIC Group. email@example.com