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Working from home is not as easy as you thought, huh?

OPINION
By XN Iraki | April 29th 2020

Working from home is not as easy as you thought, is it?

Working from home was one of the reactions to Covid-19. The directive was music to the ears of academics. They could now test their theories against reality. 

Telecommuting and alternative workplaces are some of the fancy names for working from home, not at home.  Convenience, saving costs like transport, and more productivity are cited as the key advantages of working from home. 

For managers and business owners, this is possible: you can give orders and directions from anywhere, even from a golf course. And targets and objectives can be easily set and monitored. The proponents of working from home did not consider the lower class, hustlers, some who have no homes. The popular image of a home with several rooms and a backyard, with a dedicated room for an office, is just that for a majority of Kenyans – an image. 

Among the hustlers, such spare space is not available even for basics like cooking and sleeping.

I once lived in a single room, 10 feet by 10 feet, and memories of it are still fresh. It is also assumed that those working from home have Internet and computers, and reliable power supply. And more importantly, have work to do. Why do we assume that Covid -19 will not affect the ‘work’ at home or from home?

Go looking

Think about it, the work at home depends on work elsewhere. It is not like plants in the backyard. If there is no work elsewhere as businesses close, there will no work to do at home. If there is no traveling, there is no travel consulting. There is no project evaluation if there are no on-going projects. Work at home is not insulated from the economic realities. 

 A better question: why do we assume Kenyans leave work at home to deliberately go looking for it outside?  

 Working at home is a popular myth that Covid-19 will debunk. For the affluent, it’s a hobby, a pastime aided by technology. The real work is outside the home. Even Internet jobs are based on real economy. Accounting, marketing, data science, and so on, are based on real work, someone sweating. 

 The real work is found elsewhere, away from home, in the farms, mines, factories and service provision. As Covid-19 ravages the nation, this reality is emerging. That’s why lockdowns are being resisted; citizens have no work at home!

Few glamorous jobs are found at home beyond cooking, baby sitting or washing clothes. And we all know about the pay. Interestingly, work used to be found at home when cottage industries were common. The industrial revolution undid that. It is unlikely Covid-19 will take us back to that bygone age.

Are you working from home? Please share your experience.

[XN Iraki; [email protected]]    

Covid 19 Time Series

 

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