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Learning to work in the new normal

The corona-virus pandemic has created a moment of truth for every company. Leaders are rightly asking themselves: Are our choices and actions right now reflecting our culture and the purpose and values that define us? Are we still upholding the mission and vision of the company?

For us here at Sahihi, the answer is yes. When we started experiencing high cancellations of projects and postponing start dates for confirmed projects, management took the initiative of ensuring safety for all sahihi staff and its clientele.

As cases continued to escalate around the world and in the country, we saw our government implementing more strict measures. The curfew was heavily enforced, and we started seeing police officers on almost every street turn. This meant that we had to adjust our work patterns in order to keep everything moving. Management then decided to have some of the staff work from home.

Working from home is not something that construction and office fit-out companies are really used to. “I never believed I could work from home at any given time. I used to be hesitant of the idea,” says Johnson. For Catherine, “it was a much-needed refreshment from the constant commuting and hustle of the dreaded traffic jams.”
For our workers at sites, management had to design schedules that would enable then to work required hours and be home before curfew time.

During this pandemic, we have come to realize that culture is our company’s internal compass, informing us on actions to take in a time of crisis.

We decided to ask our staff members, who are currently working from home, to share their experiences so far. Here are four specific steps that they believe help;

Teamwork and Innovation

In addition to retreating once every year, our teamwork culture has paid off tremendously during this pandemic. “The level of teamwork that Sahihi has, is mind blowing. I find myself waking up every day, motivated to work, assist where I can and be productive by the end of the day,” says Sheila.

Keeping creativity and innovation at the forefront requires a lot of self-discipline. Karis notes that, “this has turned out to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to work better and smart.” This is a great time to “enforce all the discipline,” says Karis.
“I have been able to gain more self-discipline (working without supervision),” says Makario.

Commitment and Professionalism

In the spirit of being dedicated to the success of our customers, partners, employees and shareholders, our staff continue to maintain timely communication, follow processes, mark boundaries and keep to the book. With the current parameters, our staff is still finding creative ways to make it work as they stay true to their commitment. “I still dress up for work, have breakfast and sit at my desk in a corner i have identified in my room,” says Simon

“I have had to come up with a to-do-list for each day that acts like tasks or things I have to do in the office. This keeps my mind focused,” says Annitah.
“my main focus has been to stay productive and accountable to all my responsibility whilst staying isolated,” adds Brian

Competence and Integrity

Our focus in building honesty, trust and effective interpersonal relationships has been paying off during this time. We can clearly see this in the daily task delivery efforts by our staff members who are working from home. “Each day before I sign out for the day, I make a schedule the following day’s task,” says Faith.

Learning to adapt

“It literally requires all the inner discipline one can conjure up to make working from home a success. Constant distractions from life’s daily activities at home prove to be a herculin task; babysitting, daily chores, noisy working environment,” says Catherine.

With a four-year-old kid at home, Sheila had to create a schedule so as to separate her work time from her personal time. “By having my own workspace and setting boundaries, during tea and lunch breaks is when I find time to spend with my kid. So far so good, it has worked, and I am productive and less distracted. It has been a great learning experience on how it can be possible to work from home,” says Sheila.

“I have saved time and transportation costs. I don’t have to take time preparing to
travel almost two hours to and from the office.

However, I wish we could go back to the way things were before because we will all go crazy doing most of our activities from home!” adds Esther.

“Human interaction is very important,” says Brivin. “There’s reduced face-to-face interaction with the rest of the world. You don’t get to meet new people who could be potential suppliers,” adds Bonface. Cecilia finds that, “when you work from home and you have a bad day, it feels like you’ve done nothing! Maybe you had to start something from scratch because it wasn’t done properly the first time, and then the ‘workday’ is over and you’re still on the same spot… it’s a terrible Feeling.”

We are all facing similar challenges as employees and employers all over the world. One thing that will save our companies is how well we maintain contact and continuous communication with our colleagues. That’s how we will sustain our company culture and keep it alive together, even though we are apart.

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