Corona lessons that will boost start-ups

Working at home
Working at home. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Many firms have had to rethink their business models as they implement the government’s restrictions over the coronavirus outbreak that has disrupted companies.

To stop revenue haemorrhages and closing down of businesses, majority of them have devised new ways to stay afloat in the face of uncertainties. One of the ways has been for workers to learn how to work from home. This means embracing digital platforms.

Many employees have been working remotely as corporates embrace e-commerce, digital payment solutions and remote access to internal production systems among others.

AlternateDoors Consulting Human Resource (HR) expert Juliet Gateri says it only takes 21 days for people to embrace new ideas.

“Soon, working remotely will be normal to most employers unlike before when no one could have even thought of it,” Ms Gateri says. “This will see some of them embrace the changes to cut rental losses, utilities and human resources.”


From private to government institutions, from SMES to big corporations, employees are now working remotely through technological equipment such as video-conferencing and different modes of messaging. This has compelled employers to provide their staff with the resources they need to work from home.

“Jobs such as receptionists, human resource managers and supervisors that are based on monitoring will be redundant as companies will shift to strategic and output-based roles,” says Ms Gateri.

For start-ups, learning to use digital tools will greatly boost their businesses. Such businesses usually struggles with numerous challenges. However, adopting technology can cut their operational costs significantly.

Firms will also be shielded from having to pay for expensive office space and utility services that come with them.

As companies will not have man permanent staff this will help them save a lot in staff welfare services such as bonuses and terminal benefits.

It will also benefit local innovators who will come up with new technological solutions that will complement the new shift.

Demand for online tools that ease meetings, track performances, speed up purchase and delivery of goods and services is likely to grow.

Moreover, employees who do not have to report to work will save a lot from transport and housing costs as they will reside further from the towns and cities where the cost of accomodation can be high.

“Focus will be more on strategic activities like performancs and not discipline-related issues such as lateness and sexual harassment,” says Ms Gateri.

Online communication will also gives employees psychological safety where they feel they can speak their minds without receiving a backlash from their colleagues and supervisors.

However, the shift could hit developers should demand for office space drop.

If this happens, commercial developments will lose demand as companies will opt to have smaller offices or co-working spaces where they can have their meetings on need basis.

Meanwhile, residential developments will increase in areas outside the metropolitan region because workers will not have to commute to work as they will prefer to live in less-congested areas far from city noises.

Kwetu Real Estate CEO Mwiti Kaburu says the new shift will witness the need for affordable and better designed houses that offer convenience as both a homes and workplaces.

“When buying a home, customers will now consider if it is conducive for working remotely,” he notes, adding that developers will also have to respond to such changing needs of buyers.

Mr Kaburu, who is also a lawyer, says people will also prefer to reside in places in the outskirts of Nairobi, such as Kiserian, Kitengela, Rongai, Athi River and Kangundo. This is because, these places are not congested and in case of a pandemic such as the one the world is witnessing now, the disease will not spread fast.

“People will move away from congested areas drawing from the lessons of coronavirus which is very contagious and thrive on person-to-person contact,” says Mr Kaburu, adding that this is the time for entrepreneurs to turn sections of their homes into business premises.

Many firms such as Tuskys, Naivas, Jubilee Insurance, Kenya Power and Safaricom have strengthened their digital solutions to minimise physical contact between their customers and employees.

Retailers have embraced online delivery companies such as Sendy and Glovo to reach their customers at home.