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Opinions of Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Columnist: Bright Ampadu Okyere

Power outages; a threat to 'working from home'

More companies have discovered the importance of “Working From Home” as a results of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new normal has intensified the fight for global talent. Organizations are not limiting themselves to their environment and catchment areas.

Recruiters are exposed to a much bigger talent pool with this. This represents a means of demonstrating cultural diversity which has a huge impact on company culture. It is expected that more companies will take advantage of the opportunities that “Working From Home” offers.

'Working From Home' is a source of joy for highly skilled individuals who have built capacity and the needed skill sets needed to attract more jobs. International companies are interested in multi-skilled employees. They have more options available for choice with global companies.

Most importantly, is the availability of skills still valuable if there is limited or no access to reliable electricity and power supply? Your guess is as good as mine.
Working from home is a relatively a new phenomenon as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, for 3.2% of the US workforce that had been working remotely long before quarantine regulations, the shift was not overwhelming.

This arrangement had been around for decades, but even then, 44% of global companies did not allow Working From Home. COVID-19 undeniably transformed the traditional, office-based work culture, forcing corporations to take their operations to their employees’ homes.

A great source of worry can be found in countries where there is limited or no power supply especially in developing countries like Ghana. This poses a challenge to companies who have fully embraced remote work and have invested heavily in this. Some organizations have designed and developed comprehensive policy framework guiding the new normal of Working From Home”.

Constant power outages have the potential of affecting productivity and efficiency. This obviously will affect delivery and the most affected will be the customer who expects excellent service delivery.

Reliable electricity supply is very critical in the development of society, using electrical appliances and gadgets is essential in our daily lives, particularly for companies who have adopted “Working From Home”.

In the event of a power outage, work grinds to a halt, which affects productivity and output. It does not only affect power source for our workstations or laptops but it also affects the supply of data connectivity. Telecommunication companies largely depend on constant power supply to be able to deliver stable internet. Having meetings on Teams and Zoom applications is the new normal now, therefor erratic power supply will impact work negatively.

Disruptions in power supply will affect workflow, increase customer dissatisfaction and agitation, this will lead to loss of revenue. The impact of the lack of stable power does not only affect business operations, the downtime also affects the bottom line; job losses becomes eminent due to tight and varied production schedules.

Production lines and equipment’s gets shutdown and eventually gest damaged as a results of constant unannounced power outages. One of the downsides is the risk of losing money due to power outages especially coming from the havoc wrecked by COVID-19 pandemic.

A survey conducted by Information Technology Intelligence Consulting reported that 98% of their respondents from the IT sector suffer over $100,000 worth of losses due to an hour of downtime.

Startups and small organizations get hugely impacted and any plan to pass on the cost incurred to the consumer may not augur well for the sustainability of the business. Ghana has faced this same situation in time past. It was expected that real forecasting and planning would have projected the power demand both for domestic and commercial use.

Sadly, it is difficult to identify and ascertain the actual reasons why we are experiencing erratic power supply. Without a time-table indicating the outages, it makes it extremely difficult to navigate through the erratic power supply.

As we wait for stable power, there is the urgent need to manage remote teams by putting in place mechanism to protect the investment made by organization into remote work. Again, it is essential to prepare employees for power interruptions so workflow does not suffer much.

Plan and Prepare Ensure that all devices are fully charged. You should download or print all necessary documents in case you lose access to the Internet.

Prioritize and Deliver

There are always urgent and important deliverables, prioritize between this demands and attend to the most pressing jobs. Deliver them on time to avoid any delay.

Look for Cafes or Restaurants with Reliable Electricity Carry your laptop to a local café that remain open even when there’s no electricity. Buy food and drink and work as you stay over to work. in town.

Charge Your Device in Your Car If you own a car, you can leverage it as a giant charger for your laptop. So, we recommend that you get a charger adapter if your vehicle doesn’t have an outlet. Even if you’re not anticipating a power outage soon, it’s still wise to have this accessory ready.

Purchase a Back-Up Generator Buying a back-up generator may seem like a drastic move, but if power outages happen frequently in your area, this product can be a wise investment. You may have to shell out money upfront, but in the long run, it is still a practical solution. During future power outages, you won’t have to run around looking for a place to plug your laptop to work.

Install Solar Panels and Inverters

Solar panels are very critical for the provision of power; they have become an integral source of power. They help provide electricity when and where there is none. and can aid working effectively. Renewable energy supply requires massive investment to allow organizations to build their own alternative power supply.

Work from the residence of a colleague who has power

You can visit a colleague who has electricity and work from his/her residence. Such an arrangement comes in handy and offers temporal relief for the challenges of erratic power supply.

If you are in charge of managing a remote team and you want to monitor their work hours, especially due to power outages, time tracker is the only option. The refreshing news is that, the tool works both online and offline. Such trackers have many other functionalities that will be useful like managing the geographical location of employees who are scheduled to work at certain specific times.

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