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Personal Finance

Employee’s dilemma in era of Covid-19

Workers at the Export Processing Zone in Ruaraka, Nairobi.
Workers at the Export Processing Zone in Ruaraka, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

If you are an entrepreneur during Covid-19, it may be hard keeping up with expenses but the biggest advantage you have is the autonomy to make decisions on how and where you work.

This decision is a matter of life and death for some.

This is one of the silver linings of being an entrepreneur during this time. You decide how much exposure you will take from a health perspective.

Every individual in a paying job right now has a heart of gratitude given the circumstances. However, there is an unspoken dilemma that many employees are facing, especially those who are in the vulnerable category. Are they comfortable going back to the office?

Many organisations have provided clarity for their employees by making executive decisions that their employees can work remotely, which is the most practical thing to do under the circumstances. This eliminates the dilemma.

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The employees I refer to as facing a dilemma are those whose organisations have not taken a clear stand, for example, sending out communication that people should work from home, and then subsequently sending a calendar invite for a strategy meeting with the location being the office.

If you are an employee in this situation, what do you do? What happens if things open up and you have to go to work but are terrified of going back, especially given the underlying condition you have and are living with that no one knows about?

Manage your anxiety

Carry out a reflection exercise and get to the root cause of your anxiety. Are you concerned because you have to use public means to go to the office while everyone else has a car? Are the meeting rooms too small with minimal ventilation to hold the proposed number of employees invited? Take a deep breath and focus on what you can control.

Once you have clarity on what is making you nervous, you can engage your human resources (HR) department in a conversation to understand any company protocols that may have been defined.

Understand Protocols

Have a conversation with your HR department to gain a better understanding of the protocols that have been set aside by the company. You may find out that those that fall in the vulnerable category are not expected to come to the office. There is a clearly defined process you would need to follow for you to continue working from home as long as the pandemic persists.

Please keep in mind that your health data is confidential and you are under no obligation to give details on your condition.

However, you may need to present a letter from your doctor simply indicating that you are in the vulnerable group depending on the culture in your organisation. You may find that your team is not complying with the company’s Covid-19 policy directives due to a lack of awareness and you could help bridge that gap and avoid a breach.

High-quality personal protective equipment (PPE)

Invest in high-quality PPE, keeping in mind that your life is more precious than any savings you will make right now.

While you may have received a pay cut and your responsibilities may have increased following layoffs of close family members, resist the temptation to buy substandard PPE.

Give yourself the best you can, keeping in mind that you need to remain healthy and adequately protect yourself as many are depending on you.

Demonstrate efficiency

You must continue to be super-efficient during this period and demonstrate high levels of productivity.

This means timely response to emails, instant messaging, meeting all deadlines and innovating which will only be achieved with you exercising excellent time management skills.

If you are on virtual calls all day, that may not necessarily be practical given you still have deliverables to submit.

You may need to prioritise, which meetings you will attend and ensure you have extra time to complete pending work.

The more productive you are in the virtual environment, the more trust you will earn and the easier it will become to continue with the status quo.

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