Working in the ‘new normal’, firms cut pay, go digital

 Working in the ‘new normal’, firms cut pay, go digital


The world was going about her activities normally until early last year, when Coronavirus hit, shutting down most social-economic activities. 

The panic caused by the virus was unfathomable, with decision-makers at job places forced to act fast to come up with production continuity plans within strict Covid-19 spread prevention measures by governments. 

In Kenya for instance, President Uhuru Kenyatta imposed a dawn to a dusk curfew on top of restricting inter-county movements. 

Pay cut

After the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Kenya, the flow of money in the economy nose-dived, hurting the financial muscles of most companies. To maintain the workforce, employees were requested to take a pay cut ranging between 10 to almost 50 per cent. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta led the way, announcing on March 26 that he and his deputy were willing to take an 80 per cent pay cut, while their ministers and their assistants will take pay cuts ranging from 20 to 30 per cent respectively. 

“In sharing the burden occasioned by the global health pandemic throughout the crisis and commencing immediately my administration has offered a salary reduction of the senior rank executives,” the President said.

This gave firms some sort of breathing space to gather enough stamina to withstand the social-economic challenges of the virus. 

Reduction in Hours of Work

This came as a consequence of pay cuts. This saw firms work midway especially between March and May to ensure staff complies with the government’s curfew measures. Even so, working hours have been improving as restriction measures ease. 

Remote working

Companies world over saw their IT budgets rise by at least five per cent as coronavirus disrupted social-economic activities in 2020, the latest survey by KPMG shows. 

This, as 86 per cent of firms sampled indicated that they moved their workforce to remote working. At least 43 per cent of technology leaders expect over half their staff to remain working predominantly from home.

While this seems to be a growing trend globally, a survey conducted by Consumer Insight Africa in April shows productivity levels among most workers in Kenya (81 per cent) drop while working remotely

86 per cent of firms sampled indicated that they moved their workforce to remote working. At least 43 per cent of technology leaders expect over half their staff to remain working predominantly from home.

Of the respondents who said their productivity had dropped as a result of working from home, 41 per cent said they were spending more time watching pay-TV and movies.

Another 34 per cent increased their spending on entertainment. 

The KPMG survey sampled over 4,200 respondents from chief information officers (CIOs) and technology executives across 83 countries. 

IT budget up

”Firms had to pump more resources into their IT infrastructure to ensure continuity of activities. The cost varies depending on the size of the workforce and mandate,” the report shows. 

Almost half (47 per cent) say the pandemic has permanently accelerated digital transformation and the adoption of emergent technologies, with over six in ten respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that their influence has increased as a result of the pandemic. 

Cyber-security expertise was the most in-demand skill set, especially in the cloud and data security space for the time in this survey’s history, with security and privacy topping technology investments at 47 per cent.

It was followed by customer experience and engagement (44 per cent), cloud infrastructure (35 per cent) and automation at 29 per cent.

Three-quarters of respondents indicated that the attack surface and importance of cyber-security has increased as a result of Covid-19, with Spear phishing topping at 83 per cent, followed by Malware and Denial-of-service attack at 62 and 21 per cent respectively. 

”The pandemic exposed a growing digital divide, shifted some priorities, and amplified many of the challenges that the IT organisation faced before Covid-19, key among them being cybersecurity,” the report said. 

To cut operational budgets, firms have also adopted extreme measures including redundancy and closure that has since over two million workers rendered jobless. 

Others have resorted to moving to less costly offices and cut on operational budgets. 

According to recent real estate insights by Cytxnn, Hass Consult and Myspace properties, the demand for mid-tier office apartments and shared spaces has spiked since July last year. 

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