Since the first confirmation of the coronavirus in Kenya, on Friday 13th March 2020, the country has joined the increasing number of territories that have been affected by this global pandemic, and the changes that emanated from it. One of those changes included transitioning from office to home office.
To curb the spread of the virus, the Government ordered a cessation of movement for an initial containment period of 21 days from 7pm to 5am, which has today, been extended for an additional 21days. This continues to redefine the meaning of work as we traditionally know it as, and the impact this method of work has on businesses. 
  
Working from home means different things to different people. While an introvert feels comfortable working alone, extroverts find it more challenging and ambiverts switch between both. Organizations should not employ a one-size-fits-all approach policy to manage change.
 
Effective communication in the workplace is important as you continue to provide your staff with the technical support needed to effectively work from home. These supports vary from industry to industry and include among others: ecosystem management and structure of the new modus operandi.
 
Introverts love to work remotely. 
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They gain their energy from working alone or in groups with a limited number of people. They are strategic, plan their days and activities in advance, to be effective. Introverts love to communicate remotely because they control the space they are into. There is no body language requirement or any need to manage people’s expectations. Introverts will happily participate in calls without uttering a word if they don’t feel that their input is necessary, or delegate if their presence is not important.
Plan, plan, plan. If your staff are introverts, ensure that sufficient time is provided to delegate and KPIs are provided to manage expectations. Introverts do not like being called into last minute meetings or being pressurised into finishing unexpected tasks.  Be as clear as possible when delegating. Give them private time- remember introverts perform best when they work on their own terms. Set a deadline and give them their space to work. Use emails to communicate rather than calls. Appreciate and praise them quietly.
 
Extroverts, on the other hand, can work remotely but must constantly interact with others, through calls and videos.
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Working remotely requires a lot of self-motivation for extroverts. They gain their energy from being around people and their best ideas come from unplanned conversations/meetings. An extrovert works better within a structure: he must set a designated workplace, dress as if he was going to work, and must have a to-do list to be on track and be effective. Employers must ensure that expectations are set and followed regularly. Extroverts will be present in all video and call meetings and make sure that their voices are heard and inputs shared. 
If your staff are extroverts, provide structures and deadline for completion of tasks. Encourage routine to help them remain creative.  Delegate and assign leadership roles to help them communicate and connect with others. Assign challenging tasks to stimulate their minds. Introduce happy hours to communicate with them. Happy hours are social chit chat spent understanding what your staff are going through, how they manage the situation, find out they fears, pray with them, share global and local information about the pandemic to make sure they are up to date and ready to tackle whatever may come their way. Appreciate and praise them loudly.
 
 
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For the longest time, introverts and extroverts have been the two terms used to define personality traits. However, researches have evolved, changed the narrative, and illustrated that personally traits are part of a continuum. Ambiverts are people who cannot identify themselves as introverts or extroverts, as they have both traits. They can work alone and in a group. They can be quiet and highly social.  The greatest skill of an ambivert is her flexibility.
 
Employers must also consider other factors such as how staff gather information (sensing vs intuitive) and how they make decision (thinking vs feeling), when managing remote employees. While a sensing person tends to be pragmatic, hands on, mentally in the present and likes to take things step by step, an Intuitive person is imaginative, creative,  future focused and takes a leap into future opportunities. When it comes to making decisions, a thinking oriented person makes decision from the head, is data driven, analytical and objective. A feeling oriented individual, on the other hand, makes decision from the heart, is emotionally driven, focused and subjective. 
 
People with different psychological characteristics work differently and are more vulnerable than others to work from home. Understanding and appreciating those differences help facilitate work, manage uncertainty and ensure productive.
 
#emmanuellaaboa #productivity #personalities #personalitytraits #introverts #extroverts #ambiverts
 
How many times can a child utter the word mum in a day? Out of curiosity (or maybe boredom), i took up the challenge to count the number of times my 4 kids call out my name, and between 10am to 3pm, yesterday, we were at 85 and counting. Whether I chose to ignore or answer them was meaningless, as they appeared to like the sound of the word.  
 
I thought working from home would be easy, satisfying and fulfilling, but i was wrong. For a mother, specifically, this is very confusing. I struggled, the first week, to find my footing between teaching my kids, becoming their Priests,  managing and balancing their physical and mental well-being, cooking, cleaning, studying, working in an extremely noisy environment and getting a simple shower. As a matter of fact, below is a picture of me, taken by my son, in my pyjamas, cooking lunch.
 
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With the fear currently crowding people judgment, speaking to individuals bring out a very depressed outlook about life. While economists predict a global economic and financial crisis similar to the 2008-2009 great recession, psychologists predict a great depression similar to that of 1929-1933. Whatever the case, no one is predicting anything positive. 
I am often reminded in such trying times of one of my favourite quotes  “tough times don’t last, tough people do.” Sitting the whole day, every day, watching Netflix won’t help. This is the time, for entrepreneurs to re-strategize, think ahead of your competitors, and take bold, calculated risks.
 
After ‘’suffering’’ for about 10 days, i chose to be proactive and make a plan that would help me become more productive, and most importantly innovative. Working remotely is a continuous trial and error process you will go through until you find specific ways that would work out for you.
 
  1. Redelegate: The first thing i did was to speak to the teacher of my children with some suggestions regarding how she could teach the kids online. I was happy to know that she had similar thoughts, and happily agreed to my approach. This saved me 4 hours of teaching and correcting what seemed like endless assignments, without counting the number of times i had to use Google to teach Chemistry.
  2. Go back to your routine: Our Bible reading/studies went back to the evening as we would on a normal day, as opposed to the spontaneous ones we started to have this past weeks. Even though the kids adore my food, i made it very clear that i would cook more often, but definitely not every day as mummy needed to work. Cleaning was never my cup of tea, i happily handled it back to the house manager. I wake up, dress up and work as if i was heading to the office to motivate and stimulate my mind.
If you are a manager, be aware that communication can be a big challenge when working remotely. Yet, your team still need your guidance to make the transition successful.
  1. Set clear goals and expectations: employees need to comprehend that this is not a holiday. You still need to hold them accountable for their work.  Progress must be evaluated in line with the employee’s KPIs. Weekly reviews should be implemented to ensure that staff are committed to the company’s objectives and vision.
  2. Be realistic: despite the fact that work needs to continue, it is a different environment which tend to be harder for employees with children. As a manager be realistic about what this might entail. Establish hours of availability to maximize output.
  3. Embrace virtual communication: emails, calls or texts are not as effective remotely as they are when your staff are physically present in the office. Choose video calls such as Zoom, Microsoft team and GoToMeeting to communicate, connect and most importantly clarify misunderstandings.

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The coronavirus may have unexpectedly forced employees to work remotely, but this might become the future of the workplace. In this uncertainty times, where laid-offs are becoming increasingly rampant, nothing should be left to chance. 

#emmanuellaaboa
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

During my last talk dubbed 2020 marketing trends, i spent a considerable time talking to participants about the impact coronavirus will have on businesses in particular, and the economy in general. Far from scaring anyone, my intention was to alert people so that we are all able to take timely precautions, and hopefully survive this pandemic. It is my hope that those who attended did take the necessary precautions.
Since the confirmation of the coronavirus in the country, panic has been the primary emotion for many people and yet, they are many other opportunities one can take advantage of. On top of my mind is the manufacturing and agricultural sector.

With China being on a lock down, we now have the opportunity to regain our past glory, by creating our own materials and developing markets, without worrying about China offering the same at a lower price or providing better incentives. In the agriculture sector, guess what? This goes without saying that we still needs to eat. They are opportunities for many other sectors. As a company, we continue to provide psychotherapy sessions. We still have counselling sessions every single day. We have had to make some adjustments in our training calendar and re-strategize, but we continue working remotely for now, as per the Government’s directives.

Truth is our economy does not allow us to stop working. Africa is a different continent. Unlike Europe where specific funds have been allocated to citizens to alleviate and manage the impact of the coronavirus, our reality differs. Our Governments have loans, the economy was already on its knees and so, people will have to work. However, it is time to think about working more intelligently, which varies from organizations to organizations. I, however, applaud our African states for quickly realising how disadvantaged we are as an economy, and taking certain steps to control the situation. Kenya, Rwanda, Cote D'Ivoire are among the African countries who have already closed they schools to avoid spreading the virus. France and the UK closed their schools this week. We must give credit where due: a heartfelt congratulation to our head of states.

As we continue managing the situation, we appreciate the fact that SMEs are the most vulnerable, despite being the biggest employers in the world. We are however reminded that it is through fire that irons sharpen, and that iron sharpens iron. God is still on His throne.
As SMEs, this is the right time to get closer to your customers, listen to their preoccupations, and show your 'human side' if you had not already. You want to make sure that your customers do not forget you.

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You also want to speak to other entrepreneurs and understand what they are currently doing in the wake of the coronavirus. Listen, learn and strategize. Many businesses will fail, yet some will strive.

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Make sure to have cash at hand and continue to be prudent with your spending.

Find out if your bank offers loans such as overdraft or economic injury disaster loans (if applicable) to help you manage the unknown. Banks do want to give loans because the interest rate helps run their businesses. But they need to lend to a credit worthy customer.

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Have you joined your professional associations? If you haven't, now is the time to.
These professional bodies act on behalf of their members, and play the role of advocacy in front of government and other stakeholders. In France, for example, thanks to the lobbying,  the private sector was able to  influence a law that temporarily stops companies from paying rent, water, gas and electricity. This will ensure continuous operation of SMEs without the worry of unpaid bills.
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Most importantly remain calm and prayerful. The coronavirus is not a dead sentence. It is a challenge and in every challenge, lies opportunities. God bless us all!
#emmanuellaaboa

 

Last year i was privileged to be invited by Hon. Anthony Oluoch at the Mathare Career Fair to motivate the young people who were doing their exams. It did not take me long to notice in the group, a very bright young girl who must have been around 15 years. I approached her at the end of our session to know her better and share my contact. I mentioned that if her parents ever experienced challenges completing her education, with God help, i would be there to assist because such intelligence should be utilised.

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She called me in December to inform me that she got 410 points and was the best in her class. I was overjoyed.

As we celebrate the day of education, i am reminded of her and the many more young girls and boys who work so hard and are either not able to complete their education due to lack of fund or get a job due to lack of opportunities.

The provision of free education in Kenya is without any doubt the greatest achievement of the Government, even though its implementation has been challenging.

The increase in school enrolment since its deployment reinforces the importance of education among parents, who in most cases, did not have the chance to pursue their education and wish to see the dream in their kids.

Thanks to this, young kids such as Aby, have the opportunity to become Doctors, Engineers, Businessmen/women and contribute to the development of their country.

At Transolution Services, we value education and tirelessly work with the best experts internationally and locally to develop contents that can help young people strive within their ecosystems: 14+ countries, 10,000+ young people, 15+ educational institutions, and counting... 

Happy International Day of Education!