August 13, 2022

In the beginning, one would wonder how large corporations could run fully through remote work, but now, thanks to technology-enabled work systems, we have come to see how possible it is…

By Ijeoma Anastasia Ntada

Sometime ago, #toxicbosses trended on Twitter Nigeria. It lasted for sometime on the platform, and it provided an avenue for people to talk about the perceived toxicity of their bosses as well as the horrible experiences at their workplaces. The hashtag was promoted widely by young people who wanted better out of work. In Twitter posts, these young people laced their pain with humour and still passed the message across. As people are demanding for better work conditions, they are also utilising technology and the Internet to equip themselves with the skills needed to land better jobs with healthier work cultures, jobs that would allow them just enough space to tap into their creativity fully and optimise their strengths at work. 

Months ago, I discovered Utiva, an online digital school owned by Eyitayo Ogunmola that teaches in-demand skills like programming, UI/UX design, and data management. Utiva is targeted at everyone who wishes to get the right skill set needed to beat the toxic work culture in Nigeria. Nigerian tech coach, Iniobong Udoh, also has an online training centre for digital skills. Many Nigerians are embracing tech skills and excelling at it. A good example is 16-year-old John Oseni who was hired as a senior programmer by an Italian Firm. The list keeps on growing, and a lot of Johns are rising.

Tech skills take time to master, but they allow for a lot of flexibility. For instance, a person can work as a data scientist remotely. The flexibility, creativity, and endless opportunities that seem to be embedded in tech is one great reason a lot of Nigerians are delving into it. Remote work is already a thing in Nigeria, and it is amazing to see. 

The COVID-19 pandemic urged a lot of businesses and individuals realise that they did not have to spend long hours in offices to get work done. With the closure of workspaces due to the ravaging pandemic, a lot of people had to embrace remote work fully. It wasn’t a piece of cake at first, but as time progressed, it became the new norm.  It took the pandemic for businesses and workers to incorporate a lot of digital work systems like online meeting sessions as opposed to physical ones. In the beginning, one would wonder how large corporations could run fully through remote work, but now, thanks to technology-enabled work systems, we have come to see how possible it is.

Technology is redefining the work culture, and it is very glaring to everyone. Employee behaviour towards work is changing, too. There is this new zeal and perspective that comes with embracing tech and incorporating it into work processes. It makes work easier, and opens your eyes to see that the ball is very much within your court, that you are powerful enough to chart the course that your job would take. 

The Great Resignation keeps on growing from strength to strength as workers continue to quit their jobs in high numbers every day. The Great Resignation also known as the Great Quit, a term coined by Anthony Klotz, describes the ongoing economic trend that started in 2021 where workers all over the world resign from their jobs in large numbers due to working conditions they can no longer adhere to. The Great Resignation was very dominant during the heat of COVID-19 as several workers had to let their jobs go because the working conditions no longer served them in the face of the pandemic. In the past, it was not uncommon for employees to do all they could to keep their jobs. These days, they have come to not care so deeply anymore. A Nigerian lady, Beatrice, left her job because she was paired with someone she didn’t quite like at work. Although a somewhat hilarious reason to quit a job, it has become one of the most prominent features of the Great Resignation.

The Great Resignation is also rippling through South Africa. According to an article on Business Tech, “Traditionally the number one reason for resignation has been better pay followed by better career opportunities and development. This trend has flipped, where only approximately 20% now resign for better pay, whilst more than 70% resign for a better work-life balance, flexibility, career development, and a healthier culture and leadership.”  More South Africans are standing up to toxic work cultures and demanding to get more satisfaction from their jobs. Now, quitting for them is beyond the pay. Flexibility, development, and healthier work environments are becoming a lot more dominant. 

Technology has gone beyond typing away on your computer with Microsoft Word. It is beyond file sharing and online meetings. Technology is a portal that opens workers up to a vast world of opportunities in their careers. The best part of it is that you can explore almost everything you desire on your own. Of course, it would be difficult to navigate how everything works if you’re all by yourself. But it is not impossible. With the presence of both free and paid courses on YouTube, Udemy, Coursera and other platforms, upskilling and exploring new skills become easier. These platforms are like digital schools that one can attend on one’s own and become whatever one wants. These platforms equip one with the knowledge one needs to freelance. When one has  the skills, one begins to sell oneself and ideas to people who need them. Many people embrace freelancing because of this. This doesn’t imply that freelancing is the easy thing people run to when they can no longer do the usual work. No, they embrace it more because of the flexibility it promises.

The upsurge in the number of freelancers also accounts for the Great Resignation. These days, more workers are opting for more flexibility in work. When they don’t get that flexibility, they go for what allows it, freelancing. Freelancing is still emerging in Africa, but it is growing rapidly. According to this article, Africa accounts for only over ten percent of the general population of freelancers in the world. And while it is true that people are quitting jobs with bad working conditions, one should also take cognisance of the fact that people can also quit seemingly good ones that do not allow them enough flexibility to take on more jobs that allow the maximum use of technology to make everything easier. 

Just as more people are utilising technology by equipping themselves with the skill sets they need to do better in their careers and improve as individuals, organisations are adapting to the changes by hiring the services of freelancers as well. A lot of companies are already outgrowing conventional work styles and systems. 

The more people demand for jobs that suit them, the more companies embrace newer and interesting work models that would keep their employees comfortable and help them do their best in their respective offices. Most people opt for remote jobs these days because working remotely makes them more productive. This is one of the souvenirs the pandemic left us with. It unlocked people’s desire for flexible jobs that would allow them to be themselves and still give their best. 

Companies are adapting to this flexibility by embracing work types like the hybrid workforce model  that blends remote work and in-office work to offer flexibility and a healthy work routine to employees. According to a study, seventy percent of companies are already making plans to embrace the Hybrid Model. Some of these companies include Spotify, Adobe, Salesforce, and Twitter. The list keeps on progressing. With the hybrid workforce, employees do not have to work under very stringent rules or excessive pressure. This would enable them to do their best and explore their creativity to the apex. When this happens, there would be a greater percentage of job satisfaction, happiness, and employee well-being. 

Some companies are yet to see the goodness in remote work, and they insist on workers being physically present in the office. Companies like this might soon have difficulty getting workers. With the current trajectory, most jobs may be fully remote save for jobs that fully require physical presence, like those in the medical sector. All areas of work are embracing technology, and it is probably not a race that will stop anytime soon. People know this, and that is why they are embracing it with wide arms. The influence of technology on work culture will increase tremendously in coming times. 

 

Ijeoma Anastasia Ntada writes and reads poetry, fiction and nonfiction. She has a couple of poems published in the Love Anthology, The Ducor Review, Visual Verse, Praxis Review and other places. Ijeoma is also a photography enthusiast. She takes beautiful photographs and makes them art. When she isn’t studying to become a Medical Laboratory Scientist, you’ll find her talking about Afro Hair, femininity, and embracing all of her girlhood.

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