Context Matters

Context matters. If in February, I woke up on a Monday afternoon by 1 p.m. to begin my day, you would judge me. It’s May 2020, I woke up at 1 pm and you will not judge me, because, context matters. The context is Corona, a virus that has caused a lockdown in more than half of the world and has redefined life as we know it.

For corporate workers, “life, as we know it” is going to the office at 8 in the morning to return at night. In this article, I have more questions than answers as I am quite curious to know what the future holds for the corporate world in a country like Nigeria and perhaps, Africa as a whole. I often wonder what goes on in the corona-induced digital meetings between the major executives. Are they using this time to create solutions that would still be in place long after things are back to normal or, are they focused on working through this period alone? Would this be an actual eye-opener or just another thing that we pass through to get back to “life as we know it”?

Is this the future?

Personally, I have never been a fan of sitting for long hours in the office neither am I the biggest advocate of working from home, context matters. In my line of work, this pandemic came at a time when I needed to be outside supervising a project, might I add, one that I was quite excited about. In that context, of course, I want to be out of the house every day getting work done. However, there are times when there is no project, meaning most of my work can be done on Microsoft office and G-mail. In this context, an option to work from home would suffice. I should mention that my work currently does not require me to attend any digital meetings at stipulated times. However, those that do would welcome the option of waking up 30 minutes before a meeting over waking up hours before and having to get through the hassle of going to the office. This further proves the need for a balance.

A regular workday in Lagos, Nigeria.

These days, I find myself thinking about how complex human beings are and how these complexities are never taken into account whenever systems are being designed for us to work with. In the corporate world, we have the popular 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. work-hour system (may vary by 1 or 2 hours). This system was designed with the expectation that you and I would offer maximum productivity during these hours. Should it be that simple? We deal with fatigue, sicknesses, unpredictable emotions, yet we are expected to be productive within this confinement, every-day, 5 days a week? I honestly have more questions than answers.

Happens to the best of us.

Business leaders and decision-makers need to be a lot more flexible with work hours and long physical meetings. Online evaluations and digital meetings should be applied more frequently as they can be just as effective, dare I say the proof is in the pudding.

This pandemic might just be the culture-shock that the human race needs to go back to the “drawing board” or boardroom table. There is a need to correct some redundancies in the existing system. Contrary to that, it might just be another event in the world’s history that leaves humans to go back to the same way things were, because, change is slow and hard to adopt. In which direction will the pendulum swing? Time will tell. It’s 3 p.m. which means it’s time to have my breakfast, a plate of Amala and Ewedu awaits me, context matters.

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