One major upshot of the federally imposed lockdown and social distancing directive, which was deployed as a measure to battle the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, is the change of the work culture in the country.
Before now, most Nigerians had a uniform 8 to 5 work period, where everyone was expected to wake up early, dress up, and join fellow workers in traffic to get to work. Then after a busy day at the office, the staff of various workplaces hit the road once more to get home.
However, with the advent of the lockdowns, many Nigerian professionals have had to work from home for an extended period of time, and this has changed the way they view work, especially concerning their finances, work-life balance, etc.
Nairametrics interviewed some young professionals who shared how this new work-from-home culture has affected them financially.
Jessica Okechukwu, an auditor with a leading auditing and consulting firm in Abuja, says that she does not really spend much on fuel, and works when she has a power supply, which is quite often. However, her electricity bills nearly doubled from N6,000 a month to N11,000 due to more usage of household appliances while working from home.
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“My productivity has increased. Before COVID-19, as a staff of an auditing firm, I had to visit clients in their offices frequently, but that doesn’t happen anymore. Now, clients’ audits are run online, though it takes more time, “ she said.
Not only is she spending less time and money on transportation, but her employers have also subsidized her monthly internet and data costs, saving her more money.
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Also, her personal life has benefited, as she now has more time to connect with her family, especially her nephews, during her work breaks.
Daniel Jacob, a software developer in Lagos, says his fuel costs have been at an average of 3k a week, both pre and post lockdowns, so nothing has changed there; however, he spends just N5K a month on data, as his place of work provides data for developers working from home.
As for working hours, those have increased as work-based requests come in by 9pm and his laptop has VPN access to his firm’s website.
His love life is blossoming though, as he spends more time with his girlfriend, who has been living with him since the lockdown started.
Anthony Okechukwu, a digital marketing coach in an Abuja firm, says his fuel costs increased to N2k a week as he spends more time at home and needs electricity to work; though since his company provided internet data for him, he hasn’t spent outside his budget to buy regular internet data.
As for productivity, he works less because he feels he is managing time better, he gives himself more break-time, compared to his previous 9-5 routine.
He says since he is not 100% focused on work like before, he gets to spend more time with his family. “Now I try to balance some time between work and family and not focus only on work like I used to before,” Okechukwu said.
David Hundeyin, a journalist and content writer, says he does not have extra costs of utility services like fuel and electricity because he lives in a serviced apartment. His savings before the lockdowns made it possible for him to afford his present accommodation, and it’s less stressful for him.
As for Internet subscription, he says he usually spends between N15 and N20k a month and it’s been pretty much stable pre and post lockdown easing.
“I must say I’m working more, and taking more opportunities due to economic uncertainties. Since most people are losing their jobs, it’s better to seize any opportunity that presents itself,” Hundeyin noted.
He has been socializing a lot less because of the lockdown and spends less time with family as he hasn’t seen his siblings in months due to social distancing. He says anyone may be a carrier and it’s better to avoid passing it on and self-isolate if you can.
From the experiences shared by these young professionals, it can be seen that expenses have not really reduced. However, employees are trying to minimise their staff’s spending by subsidising the cost of internet data to make work easier for their employees, thereby making it easier for employees to adapt to the “new normal.”