Personal Finance

Innovation, work flexibility can unlock Nairobi traffic


Heavy traffic in Nairobi. file photo | nmg

When a typical employee who works five or six days a week in a firm that operates in Nairobi wakes up in the morning, they contend with a number of statistics.

These statistics have not only become the bane of Kenya’s economic and social development, but also a challenge for human capital performance.

One is the number of hours they spend on traffic jams to cover the average 20km from home to work, and the productivity that this scenario costs their employers or businesses. According to the government, in 2016, the time wasted in traffic jams equals about Sh58.4 million a day in lost productivity.

A news item by a local news outlet recently featured a sample of four people who work in Nairobi`s central business district but live in residential areas in the outskirts of the city.

The four narrated how traffic has affected their work-life balance and productivity at work. After spending an estimated 25 hours a week on traffic in the morning and evening, they barely accomplish 70 per cent of planned activities.

Those who are able to avoid this nightmare are forced to leave their houses long before dawn, sometimes as early as 4am and leave work late in the evening. This means they must either compromise on time that should be spent with their families or sleep for very few hours.

Remote working

The above scenario coupled with the fact that between 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the current workforce in the formal sector is composed of millennials, according to Deloitte.

A 2016 survey by Deloitte on millennials found that one of the priorities for this category of employees is flexibility, and that the flexibility offered by employers especially in developing economies is not consistent with millennials’ desires.

In fact, 88 per cent wish they could have greater opportunity to start and finish work at the times they choose. But the greatest gap between current supply and demand surrounds the issue of remote working.

Seventy five per cent would like to start to, or more frequently, work from home or other locations where they feel more productive. This is nearly double the proportion that currently does so (43 per cent).

A scan on innovations around the human transport and housing issue in Nairobi shows a number of ideas that could prove vital in future.

These include a ‘bike share’ concept by C4DLab at the University of Nairobi, fairly priced studio apartments targeted at young and single staffers in the CBD who can walk to and from work. Indeed innovations can address the working millennial modern day challenges.