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Coronavirus

Nigerian professionals were excited to work from home in April; what about now?

Nigeria has relaxed its lockdown measures even as bussinesses in the country have reopened. But are workers still at home?

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Working from home

In April this year when Nigerian workers were forced to work from home due to COVID-19, it came as a pleasant surprise to many. Workers in Lagos were particularly excited by the prospect of finally being able to avoid the typical stress associated with commuting in Africa’s most populated city.  

Note that this excitement was not peculiar to Nigerian workers alone. Across some of the world’s biggest cities, there was a general consensus about how thopportunity to avoid daily commute was one of the major advantages presented by the global pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns that followed it. recent report by The Japan Times said about 70% of Japanese wanted to keep working from home even after the lockdown, just so they wouldn’t have to grapple with the challenges of commuting. Another report by the Wall Street Journal revealed similar findings. 

Effects of lockdown easing on working from home in Nigeria 

Back home in Nigeria, many of the professionals who initially favoured the idea of indefinitely working from home, soon became bored as the lockdown persisted. They longed to return to their offices. However, this wasn’t quite going to happen. Despite the fact that the Federal Government had introduced the “phased and gradual” easing of the lockdown in early May, some employers directed their employees to keep working from home, out of fear of the contagious Coronavirus. 

Pictures like this emerged from across the world during the global lockdown in April

Fast-forward to the end of June, and quite a number of Nigerian professionals are still working from home. Nowadays, some people only go to the office when they absolutely need to. It’s indeed a new normal, one that has its advantages and disadvantages. 

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What professionals think about working from home 

Godswill Ifegwu, a Lagos-based auditortold Nairametrics that his employer still requires him to work from home in the meantime. And he likes this arrangement, as a matter of fact, only preferring the occasional trip to the office. He said: 

“I am still required to work from home. I’d prefer to work from home indefinitely, with the occasional trips to the office that would not require me to join the mounting traffic. 

“The disadvantage of working from home for me, though, is the unstable electricity and poor/expensive internet packages. Also, how easily one can get distracted, although this also happens at the office… I think in addition to working from home, companies can make use of co-working hubs where team members living within the same locality can go to work sometimes. This is important because sometimes, working with a team and communicating with them face to face, can be more efficient. 

Some bankers are also still required to work from home 

Although many Nigerian banks have re-opened a lot of their branches across the country, they are still allowing some of their staff to work from home. A good example of such staff is Olumide Moses, a corporate communications specialist in a bank. He told Nairametrics he only goes to the office when he absolutely needs to be there. 

“I am able to work from home. I’m still working from home even after easing the lockdown. I only go to the office when I need to do a task that might require me to work from the office. And yes, I do prefer working from home. The stress of traffic, waking up early and getting home late is eliminated.  

“For me, working from home actually increases my productivity and creativity. You get to design your work environment and ease flexibility. Today I can work from my room, next to the parlour, another time in the car. Depending on what needs to be done. There’s less Physical contact with people.  

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“However, I must say that somehow it feels like I now work for extended hours. Sometimes, there’s no defined closing period. Calls can come in at odd hours. 

“There’s also the issue of spending more on data and fuel to avoid giving an excuse as to why work is not delivered. If you are not disciplined enough and manage your time well, you may also get lazy and deliver late on tasks. 

“There are also so many virtual meetings that clash with each other. Can be very frustrating. The network can be very disappointing.” 

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Another banker, who works at Access Bank but refused to be named as he is not allowed to speak to the press, said more of his colleagues have started working from the office again. However, he still works remotely, although chances are, he too would be required to resume back at the office by July. He said he prefers working from home and will appreciate it if his employer might consider giving employers some days to work remotely by the time everyone is finally back to the office.  

In the meantime, while he continues to work from home, the Access Bank employee said he often relies on his colleagues in the office to provide him access to some sensitive documents that are not accessible  from home. Apparently, the inability to access sensitive documents from home has been one of the biggest disadvantages of working from home for bankers. Recall that Nairametrics previously reported about how this contributed to a high rate of unresolved customer complaints during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

 

Many offices across Lagos and elsewhere were deserted after the pandemic struck Nigeria.

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Some employers directed their staff to resume immediately after the lockdown was eased 

Interestingly, some companies have already directed all their staff to return back the office. A worker in the accounts department of Nigerite Limited, who pleaded anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, told Nairametrics that workers in all the departments in the company are back to working from the whilst. However, strict guidelines were put in place to ensure physical distancing and hygiene. The source also added that it never seemed as if the company’s management was ever considering making remote working a permanent part of their routine. 

“The accounts department worked from home because even though production stopped, there was still a lot to do. Salaries were still being paid, and sales were also being made. The commercial and sales department also worked because there were lots of roofing and flooring materials already produced that had to be sold off. The Health and Safety department also had to come up with modalities to be used in the workplace post-lockdown,” he said.  

Speaking further, the source explained that working from home had its challenges especially in Nigeria where power supply is epileptic and access to internet connection is unstable. For him, even though working from home was less stressful, it was just as expensive as coming to the office. As a matter of fact, he expressed his indifference to the management’s decision to discontinue remote working as soon as the lockdown was over.  

“The only gainful thing with remote working is that we do not spend time in traffic anymore, but in terms of costs, you end up spending your transportation fare to fuel your generator,” he added. 

Respondents focused on the advantages and disadvantages of working from home 

For Cyril Imafidon, a Business Intelligence Analyst with SmatData Limited, working from home has helped to improve his productivity in many ways. He explained that prior to the lockdown, the time spent in traffic on the Third Mainland Bridge every morning would ordinarily sap out mental vitality from every employee, thereby leaving them to resume at the office half-way exhausted. This in turn often meant that mental activities would become more tasking more than they normally should be. However, working from home, he said, has been ‘eventful and improved productivity’.  

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“The opportunity to get to work refreshed without having to deal with sour tempers and traffic on Lagos roads is really the best part of it all,” he said.  

He also noted that even though his office allowed remote working prior to the lockdown, he never really took advantage of it until the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He however admitted that it requires a lot of discipline and focus to get the best out while working remotely. 

“Generally, you need more discipline to keep distractions away and be able to focus on your task. There’s this tendency for you to want to rest more often than you would normally rest when you are in the office. If you are not disciplined enough, you might become unproductive, he warned.  

Despite the easing of the lockdown, Imafidon has continued working from home with the approval of his employers. He said that besides the unstable internet connection which interrupts his task, remote working is generally a better option.   

Daniel Jacob, a software developer with one of Nigeria’s tier-1 banks, also told Nairametrics that remote working hahad positive impacts on his productivity. According to him, working from home gave him more time to learn about some of the frameworks and tools needed for his personal and professional development 

Daniel admitted that he was initially frustrated when the remote work policy was implemented by his bank. This is because at first, it was frustrating because of the demands from the office and the timeline to finish up. But as it’s the case with everything, it eventually became soft work. 

Now, even after the lockdown, he still supports remote working mainly because it caused my productivity to rise through the roof. He also commended his employer for making sure that software developers were made very comfortable during the lockdown.

Nigerian professionals are now used to remote working and are ready to demand it 

Having had a full taste of remote working, some Nigerian professionals now feel like it should become the norm. Ozoemena Noel Nonsowho works with Creative Intelligence Grouptold Nairametrics that after his positive remote working experience with his current employer, he would never in the future consider working with a company that does not have a work from home policy. 

“We already had a work from home policy prior to the lockdown, so it was not a difficult adjustment,” he said, adding, “however, I do more now… I love working from home. I wouldn’t take a job without a work from home policy now.” 


With additional reporting by Ruth Ukwumbu and William Ukpe

Emmanuel is a professional writer and business journalist, with interests covering Banking & Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Profiles, Brand Communication, Fintech, and MSMEs. He initially joined Nairametrics as an all-round Business Analyst, but later began focusing on and covering the financial services sector. He has also held various leadership roles, including Senior Editor, QAQC Lead, and Deputy Managing Editor. Emmanuel holds an M.Sc in International Relations from the University of Ibadan, graduating with Distinction. He also graduated with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division) from the Department of Philosophy & Logic, University of Ibadan. If you have a scoop for him, you may contact him via his email- [email protected] You may also contact him through various social media platforms, preferably LinkedIn and Twitter.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Adeola

    July 2, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Nice one. Been working from home as a a tech startup and really relieved that most prefer to wfh, so I’m not lazy after all . However, I notice you asked only the guys. Can you do a sequel and let’s know how ladies feel about the wfh arrangement, single and married like. Is it more tasking because of domestic demands? Please let’s hear from them. Kudos to the team

  2. Tomi

    July 3, 2020 at 8:22 am

    For some of us who have been working from home pre-COVID-19, this “new normal” is a welcome development. The positive sides outweigh the negatives.

    With WFH, one could wake up very early, as early as 5 am and start working. The Productivity during the early hours in the mornings is next to nothing.
    Remote working also allows you to learn to prioritize and be self-discipline. All organizations should have remote work policies going forward.

    Nice piece!

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Coronavirus

COVID-19: Russia produces first batch of its newly approved vaccine

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COVID-19: J&J starts vaccine trials on humans after success on monkeys

Russia announced on Saturday, August 15, 2020, that it has produced the first batch of its newly approved vaccine, Sputnik V, hours after the health ministry reported the start of its production.

The disclosure was made in a statement by the Russian Health Ministry and quoted by Russian news agencies.

This is coming some days after the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, announced the registration of the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine in what could be described as a step ahead of other vaccine developments.

The announcement is seen as a propaganda coup for the Russian government against the west amid a global race to develop vaccines against the coronavirus disease.

The announcement of the vaccine registration by Putin was met with caution from scientists and the World Health Organization (WHO), who said that it still needed a rigorous safety review. Some of the scientists fear that with this fast regulatory approval, Russia may be putting national prestige ahead of safety.

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Putin had said the vaccine was safe and that one of his own daughters had been inoculated, although the final stage testing involving over 2,000 people just started this week. Such trials are considered very important before a vaccine can secure regulatory approval.

Russia has said the vaccine which is the first for the coronavirus disease to go into production, will be rolled out by the end of August.

The Gamaleya Research Institute, which developed the vaccine in collaboration with the Russian Defence Ministry, said that Russia would be producing about 5 million doses a month by December or January.

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Coronavirus

COVID-19 Update in Nigeria

On the 14th of August 2020, 329 new confirmed cases and 7 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.

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The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record significant increase as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 48,445 confirmed cases.

On the 14th of August 2020, 329 new confirmed cases and 7 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 2,976 samples across the country.

To date, 48,445 cases have been confirmed, 35,998 cases have been discharged and 973 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 344,397 tests have been carried out as of August 14th, 2020 compared to 341,421 tests a day earlier.

COVID-19 Case Updates- 14th August 2020,

  • Total Number of Cases – 48,445
  • Total Number Discharged – 34,998
  • Total Deaths – 973
  • Total Tests Carried out – 344,397

According to the NCDC, the 329 new cases were reported from 21 states- Lagos (113), Kaduna (49), FCT (33), Plateau (24), Kano (16), Edo (15), Ogun (14), Delta (13), Osun (10), Oyo (8), Ekiti (6) Bayelsa (6), Akwa Ibom (5), Borno (4), Enugu (4), Ebonyi (3), Rivers (2), Bauchi (1), Nasarawa (1), Gombe (1) and Niger (1).

Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 16,369, followed by Abuja (4,665), Oyo (2,943), Edo (2,414), Rivers (1,993), Kaduna (1,755),Plateau (1,689), Kano (1,677),  Delta (1,639), Ogun (1,535), Ondo (1,373), Enugu (980), Ebonyi (911), Kwara (888), Katsina (746), Osun (729), Borno (702), Abia (677), Gombe (648),  and Bauchi (581).

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Imo State has recorded 494 cases, Benue (430), Nasarawa (373), Bayelsa (352),  Jigawa (322), Akwa Ibom (246), Niger (229), Ekiti (200), Adamawa (185), Anambra (156), Sokoto (154),  Kebbi (90), Taraba (78),  Zamfara (77), Cross River (73), Yobe (67), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Western diplomats warn of disease explosion, poor handling by government

Lock Down and Curfew

In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.

The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.

On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.

On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.

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READ ALSO: Bill Gates says Trump’s WHO funding suspension is dangerous

DateConfirmed caseNew casesTotal deathsNew deathsTotal recoveryActive casesCritical cases
August 14, 202048445329973735998114747
August 13, 2020481163739661034309128417
August 12, 202047743453956033943128447
August 11, 202047290423956633609127257
August 10, 202046867290950533346125717
August 9, 202046577437945333186124467
August 8, 202046140453942633044121547
August 7, 202045687443936632637121147
August 6, 202045244354930332430118847
August 5, 2020448904579271732165117987
August 4, 2020444333049101431851116727
August 3, 202044129288896820663225707
August 2, 202043841304888520308226457
August 1, 202043537386883420287225677
July 31, 202043151462879119565227077
July 30, 202042689481878519270225417
July 29, 202042208404873519004223317
July 28, 202041804624868818764221727
July 27, 202041180648860218203221177
July 26, 202040532555858217374223007
July 25, 2020399774388561116948221737
July 24, 2020395395918451216559221357
July 23, 2020389486048332016061220547
July 22, 202038344543813815815217167
July 21, 202037801576805415677213197
July 20, 2020372255628011215333210917
July 19, 2020366635567891115105207697
July 18, 202036107653778614938203917
July 17, 202035454600772314633200497
July 16, 202034854595769914292197937
July 15, 202034259643760613999195007
July 14, 2020336164637541013792190707
July 13, 202033153595744413671187387
July 12, 2020325585717401613447183717
July 11, 2020319876647241513103181607
July 10, 2020313235757092012795178197
July 9, 202030748499689512546175137
July 8, 2020302494606841512373171927
July 7, 2020297895036691512108170127
July 6, 202029286575654911828168047
July 5, 2020287115446451111665164017
July 4, 202028167603634611462160717
July 3, 2020275644546281211069158677
July 2, 2020271106266161310801156937
July 1, 2020264847906031310152157297
June 30, 202025694561590179746153587
June 29, 20202513356657389402151587
June 28, 20202486749056579007149957
June 27, 20202407777955848625148947
June 26, 20202329868455458253144917
June 25, 20202261459454977822142437
June 24, 20202202064954297613138657
June 23, 20202137145253387338135007
June 22, 20202091967552577109132857
June 21, 202020242436518126879128477
June 20, 202019808661506196718125847
June 19, 202019147667487126581120797
June 18, 20201848074547566307116987
June 17, 202017735587469145967112997
June 16, 202017148490455315623110707
June 15, 20201665857342445349108857
June 14, 202016085403420135220104457
June 13, 20201568250140785101101747
June 12, 20201518162739912489198917
June 11, 2020145546813875449496737
June 10, 20201387340938217435191407
June 9, 2020134646633654420688937
June 8, 2020128013153617404084007
June 7, 20201248626035412395981737
June 6, 2020122333893429382680657
June 5, 20201184432833310369678157
June 4, 2020115163503238353576467
June 3, 2020111663483151332975227
June 2, 20201081924131415323972667
June 1, 20201057841629912312271579
May 31, 20201016230728714300768687
May 30, 2020985555327312285667267
May 29, 202093023872612269763447
May 28, 202089151822595259260647
May 27, 202087333892545250159787
May 26, 2020834427624916238557107
May 25, 202080682292337231155247
May 24, 202078393132265226353607
May 23, 202075262652210217451317
May 22, 2020726124522110200750337
May 21, 2020701633921111190748987
May 20, 202066772842008184046377
May 19, 202064012261921173444757
May 18, 202061752161919164443407
May 17, 202059593881826159441837
May 16, 202056211761765147239737
May 15, 202054452881713132039544
May 14, 202051621931683118038154
May 13, 202049711841646107037374
May 12, 20204787146158695936704
May 11, 202046412421521090235894
May 10, 202043992481421777834794
May 9, 202041512391271174532784
May 8, 202039123861181067931154
May 7, 20203526381108460128184
May 6, 20203145195104553425071
May 5, 2020295014899548123704
May 4, 2020280224594641722912
May 3, 2020255817088240020702
May 2, 20202388220861735119522
May 1, 20202170238691035117512
April 30, 2020193220459731715562
April 29, 2020172819652730713692
April 28, 2020153219545425512322
April 27, 20201337644102559942
April 26, 20201273914152399942
April 25, 20201182873632229252
April 24, 202010951143312088552
April 23, 20209811083231977532
April 22, 2020873912931976482
April 21, 20207821172631975602
April 20, 2020665382311884662
April 19, 2020627862221704362
April 18, 2020541482021663562
April 17, 2020493511841593172
April 16, 2020442351311522772
April 15, 2020407341211282672
April 14, 202037330111992632
April 13, 202034320100912422
April 12, 20203235100852282
April 11, 202031813103702382
April 10, 20203051770582402
April 9, 20202881471512302
April 8, 20202742260442262
April 7, 20202541661442042
April 6, 2020238650351982
April 5, 20202321851331942
April 4, 2020214540251850
April 3, 20202092542251800
April 2, 20201841020201620
April 1, 2020174352091630
March 31, 202013982091280
March 30, 2020131202181210
March 29, 2020111221031070
March 28, 20208919103850
March 27, 2020705103660
March 26, 20206514102620
March 25, 2020517102480
March 24, 2020444102410
March 23, 20204010112370
March 22, 2020308002280
March 21, 20202210001210
March 20, 2020124001110
March 19, 20208000170
March 18, 20208500170
March 17, 20203100030
March 16, 20202000020
March 15, 20202000020
March 14, 20202000020
March 13, 20202000020
March 12, 20202000020
March 11, 20202000020
March 10, 20202000020
March 9, 20202100020
March 8, 20201000010
March 7, 20201000010
March 6, 20201000010
March 5, 20201000010
March 4, 20201000010
March 3, 20201000010
March 2, 20201000010
March 1, 20201000010
February 29, 20201000010
February 28, 20201100010

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Coronavirus

COVID-19: Nigeria, 6 other African countries to start antibodies tests next week

These countries are the first set of countries to commit to the testing.

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COVID-19: Nigeria, 6 other African countries to start antibodies tests next week

Nigeria and 6 other African countries will start conducting coronavirus antibodies tests as early as next week, as part of efforts to understand the extent of the outbreak on the continent.

Apart from Nigeria, the other African countries that will benefit from this include Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, and Morocco.

While making the disclosure in Addis Ababa, the head of the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, said that these countries are the first set of countries to commit to it.

READ MORE: British Airways pilots accept 20% pay cut to end job losses dispute

Western countries have been using antibody tests to discover how many of their citizens have been infected by the coronavirus disease, with the expectation that will help them reopen their economies.

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This new development is coming some days after the Nigerian Government started negotiations with prospective COVID-19 vaccine distributors to the country ahead of their availability.

READ ALSO: FG: Why there is no hurry to resume train operation, Lagos blue rail line ready 2022 

The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who kick-started the negotiation on behalf of the Federal Government, in a virtual meeting with representatives of the vaccine candidate, told the co-discussants that Nigeria must be given priority when COVID-19 vaccine is ready for distribution.

Nkengasong said that Africa has so far conducted 9.4 million coronavirus tests, a 10% increase over last week. These tests show whether people currently have the coronavirus disease.

Experts said that the low levels of testing in many countries mean that Africa’s infection rates could be higher than being reported.

He said that 25 African countries still have full border closures, with 23 imposing tests at entry points. He also stressed on the need to harmonize border testing and recognize certificates in order to facilitate travel.

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