Before COVID-19, remote work in Africa was the exception, not the norm.
But it has become popular in the post-pandemic era, with many African firms creating work-from-home programs for employees.
If you want to work from home, it’s a good idea to know what you’re up against — so you can prepare for any challenges.
Here are things to consider before working from home in Africa:
Things to Consider Before Working From Home in Africa 2022
1. Prepare for poor Internet
Africa’s well-publicized issues with poor internet connectivity are often foddered for Twitter memes and jokes. For African remote workers, poor internet connectivity is a source of constant frustration.
Working from home demands that you have a stable Internet connection. Otherwise, you may miss important messages from colleagues or have meetings interrupted because of connection issues.
There’s no magic wand to guarantee stable Internet access. Your best move is to subscribe to multiple network providers. That way, you can switch to another network if you experience connection issues with your main network provider.
2. Inconsistent Power Supply
The institutions responsible for delivering power to countries in African are one of the most-criticized service providers — which is expected, given the dismal power supply in African countries.
Think of these institutes as the all-powerful villain who is unaware of your existence, but whose actions affect your life.
You may be working on a project only to have the power go out. Worse, you may have long stretches without electricity, leaving you unable to power your devices and work.
3. You have to deal with multiple distractions
Working from home requires dealing with distractions, whether that’s noisy kids or friends and relatives paying unannounced visits while you’re busy with work.
If you live alone, you may succeed in limiting these distractions. Still, you have addictive social media applications that can eat into your productive hours.
There are no escaping distractions when working from home. The best you can do is learn to limit the impact of distractions on your productivity.
4. Prepare for loneliness
Part of the things to consider before working from home in Africa is loneliness. Some people glamorize remote work, describing it as a better alternative to dealing with difficult employees at work. The thing is that we all need to interact with people and be part of a community.
Remote work may limit your opportunities for social interaction and increase your feelings of loneliness and exclusion from society.
An introvert may accept the prospect of spending most days in front of a PC without complaint. Highly social individuals are, however, likely to find it difficult to adjust to the new situation.
5. Your work days will be longer
Studies show that remote workers often work more hours and longer days compared to their counterparts. There are many reasons for this phenomenon.
When working from home, employees like to take on extra work just to hit the high productivity levels they feel will impress employers. Often the line between “work time” and “personal time” becomes blurry, which often leads to longer workdays.
The thinking that remote work is “easy” is another reason remote workers work longer hours than average. Your employer may think that remote workers should have more responsibilities, which will increase your work hours.
6. Inadequate equipment will frustrate you
A big problem that discourages many African professionals from pursuing remote work actively is inadequate equipment. For example, you may lack a PC to watch video conferences or an Internet modem to improve your mobile network service.
And what’s worse?
Many companies in Africa rarely provide employees working remotely with the necessary equipment. This is problematic, especially if you have no financial wherewithal to purchase the product.
7. Time management is difficult
The struggle to manage your time becomes more difficult when you transition to a remote role. You have to decide what projects will get your attention or you jump from task to task without getting anything done.
This method of prioritizing tasks is important for those who want to manage their time successfully and prevent distractions from eating away at their productivity.
8. Get ready for snarky comments
One of the less-talked-about sides of remote working in Africa is the condescension, profiling, and insults remote workers suffer. Many in Africa are yet to understand that people can work from home, so they often look down on remote workers.
In worse cases, you may get rude statements, intrusive questions, or derogatory descriptions like “Yahoo boy”. While this can be frustrating for legitimate income-earners, learning how to ignore these comments is an excellent idea.
9. Communication and collaboration is harder
Remote work may increase your productivity, but it makes communicating with your co-workers harder. With face-to-face interaction impossible, you’re left with Slack, Zoom, Trello, e-mail, and instant messaging as tools for communication.
There’s nothing wrong with using these tools to share information with colleagues. However, they make your messages too impersonal and reduce your ability to connect with people.
Remote work also presents problems with teamwork and collaboration. With group members unable to interact in person, cooperation and collaboration suffer. And, truly, nothing beats a physical workspace where members can gather, interact, and exchange ideas — not even the best Zoom hangout session.
10. Staying productive requires effort
A hidden problem with remote work is that it lacks the motivation associated with in-person offices. With no supervisor looking over your shoulder, it becomes harder to complete work-related tasks.
Remote work can be truly satisfying if you do it the right way. Here are some useful tips to hack remote work and make it work for you. It will also eliminate some of the above things to consider before working from home.
Tip 1: Limit distractions
Create a personal workspace in your home and make it a distraction-free environment, where you can work productively. Set ground rules for family and friends, so they don’t interrupt your work. State your work hours and highlight periods when you’re available for interaction.
Tip 2: Include some social interaction into your schedule
Visit a restaurant, bar, or shop at intervals and interact with people. Organize an event with your friends or loved ones. All these would help with the feeling of loneliness and improve your social ties.
Tip 3: Focus on work-life balance
As a remote worker, your work-life balance is important, or else you risk burning out, and killing productivity. Set definite work hours and make it clear to your employer that you won’t work outside those hours. Also, Use time tracking software like Toggl and RescueTime to calculate time spent on work-related projects and adjust if your overtime hours are increasing.
Tip 4: Develop your communication skills
Learn the basics of online communication and its accompanying etiquette to improve communication with co-workers. Always clarify your messages to avoid any sort of miscommunication.
Tip 5: Invest in your wellbeing
It can be tempting to overwork yourself when working from home, but that has multiple consequences. Take frequent breaks and get good sleep and exercise.
Tip 6: Make technology your friend
Leverage productivity tools to maximize your productivity while working from home. The list includes distraction blockers, to-do list applications, and reminder apps.
Also, you can use project management and tracking tools like Trello and Asana to coordinate projects. That way, you can ensure projects progress on schedule and results get delivered faster.
I’ll recommend you get a copy of this book; “Guide to Work-Life and Mental Health Balance”. Luckily, it’s sold at an affordable price compared to what it’s worth.
When done right, remote work can supercharge your productivity and improve your work-life balance. You can make working from home a breeze by evaluating challenges beforehand and preparing adequately. I believe this article on things to consider before working from home in Africa was useful to you.
Emmanuel Awosika is a freelance writer helping B2B and B2C businesses create content that drives traffic, increases conversions, builds credibility, and strengthens relationships with customers. He enjoys writing on automotives, eCommerce, digital marketing, SaaS, and career development.