Why employees need to think like entrepreneurs


Working from home was unimaginable only a few months ago but is now the new normal. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Last week, there was an altercation in one firm after a senior staff erroneously sent an official communication through an email address of another organisation he has been working for secretly.

The group email was intended for staff in one organisation but apparently the guy mixed up and sent it using the official email from the other company complete with his signature, address and job title.

The employee who has been working from home since the Covid-19 epidemic began was immediately put to task to explain the unusual happening.

Having been pinned on the wall he agreed he had been moonlighting for the other company and tried to justify that it did not affect his performance in any way and offered to resign immediately from the other one if forgiven.

In another case, a manager narrated an incident where he conducted online communication meeting where he was expected to deliver his usual 30 minutes’ progress report uninterrupted presentation before taking comments and questions.

However, shortly after he began his presentation he paused and requested each person to say something. Out of 22 employees, only seven responded. The rest were online on Zoom but either not paying attention or physically away from their computer.

In recent years, and in particular after the Covid-19 pandemic, much has been made of the various benefits associated with working from home, but many challenges abound.

One key challenge is, as we have seen having employees who will seize the opportunity to do other things that may directly or indirectly impact their performance or even bring the issue of conflict of interest. This may be contrary to the covenant entered between the employer and the employee.

Although many studies have hailed remote working as the next frontier, this does not work for all employees. The challenge is for the employers to ensure employees maintain the levels of productivity they usually achieve in the workplace, despite them working away from any in-person supervision.

This may only work when the employees are mature, disciplined, loyal and committed to their work. Most employees would take advantage to do other things to increase their income or simply to indulge themselves at the cost of the employer.

Setting very clear target and performance evaluation criteria is key to mutual benefit between employer and employee.

Most employers are opting to outsource some services from independent consultants and freelancers instead of the traditional employment model. This will save them money, the headache of managing people and complying with labour laws yet they have no control over the employees who work remotely.

This trend is sending a strong signal to employees and job seekers; that they must think and work like entrepreneurs. They should think like a business person and not an employee expecting a monthly salary regardless of input or results.

For the hard-working and smart employees, this is a godsend opportunity to work remotely at their convenience and get remuneration commensurate with their effort rather than be limited by job groups and promotions.

Mr Kiunga is a business trainer and the author of ‘The Art of Entrepreneurship: Strategies to Succeed in a Competitive Market’