Accelerated National Development: Can Teleworking Be A Game Changer For Ghanaian SMEs?

The way of running business all over the world is fast changing with the integration of many tools or mediums to create jobs, facilitate efficiency and high performance.

High-performing nations, are utilizing hybrids of flexible work systems to attract highly skilled human capital in the millennial working population, and to ensure business continuity in the present competitive yet volatile business world.

Telework also known as telecommuting, a flexible working arrangement, is the practice of working partially or completely from an approved worksite (eg. Home) other than the traditional office space of the employer. Telework is becoming an increasingly important business tool due to the benefits it offers employees, employers and society at large.

Perhaps based on the selection criteria, no Ghanaian company was listed in Forbes 100 top companies in the world offering remote jobs as stored in the FlexJobs database in 2016. Companies that made the Forbes list included Amazon, UnitedHealth, Teletech, Xerox, Dell and IBM.

According to Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, “The results of this year’s Forbes list is in line with the overall growth trends we’re observing in the flexible jobs marketplace, with increasingly diverse companies turning to the ‘TRaD’ (or telecommuting, remote, and distributed) model of work as an integrated business practice.

Despite the increasing attention accorded to telework in organizations in developed societies leading to its continued growth, there is low commitment to the use of telework in organizations in developing societies like Ghana.

With the rapid pace of technological innovations, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana have to rethink not only their technology investment strategies but also how to link their human resource management practices to benefits offered by technology in order to remain competitive.

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Potential benefits of implementing telework as shown by extant research include increasing employees’ satisfaction and retention, reducing operational costs to firms, and reducing environmental pollution in society.

In circumstances and working cultures where employees can achieve targets from a remote location than a designated office space, job satisfaction and dysfunctional turnover may be forestalled.

Operational cost alone takes away the chunk of monies companies need to grow their business. Certain operational cost such as fuel, transportation, utilities, rent, and traveling allowance can be reduced when some employees work from remote locations.

Adopting Telework in the Ghanaian working culture may help to ease the rush hour vehicular traffic that creates a lot of fatigue, reduces worker productivity and punctuality. Environmental pollution due to rush hour traffic and its associated health risks can be reduced when everyone is not commuting to work at a go at specific times.

Teleworking can further ease employment for highly skilled but marginalized groups like the physically challenged, nursing mothers or employees with silent disabilities. The need for SMEs to adopt teleworking is not only as an alternate Human Resource practice but also as a back-up system and a tool for business continuity management in case of national disasters and pandemics.

With the availability of enabling technologies, especially smartphones penetrations, , governmental agencies and SMEs in Ghana can indeed benefit from telework. According to Quartz Africa, smartphones connection in Africa doubled from the period of 2014 to 2016 to a staggering figure of 226 million.

This means that access to internet services in areas with low or no wifi services is growing in Africa and must be tapped into to grow the teleworking frontier.

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The Way Forward

There must be a paradigm shift in our approach to human resource and technology integration for efficiency as well as mindset that can fashion out how this medium of work can be developed, implemented, and advanced.

Telework or telecommuting is creating jobs and promoting growth in the world and Ghanaian businesses cannot be left out if indeed we dream to be part of the global competitive market.

Adopting telework in a developing country like Ghana may come with certain challenges. Internet connectivity may pose the first challenge in certain locations.

Additional factors that will influence the pace and extent of telework adoption include, performance management and ensuring privacy and security of company information. If not properly designed, home workstations for employees may present ergonomic challenges which may ultimately result in strain injuries for teleworkers.

Telework adoption in Ghana may also be confronted with socio-cultural challenges. To change mindsets of employers, employees and clients to teleworking much education and information is needed.

The recommendation for SMEs willing to adopt telework is to firstly identify organizational tasks amenable to telework, identify the necessary infrastructure, secure IT systems,  configurations and installations needed for setting up a remote workstation and to finally make sure there are teleworking policies in place to provide training, supervision and equitable compensation for teleworkers.

 

COAUTHORED BY:

Scofray Nana Yaw Yeboah
Transformational Coach | Certified Professional Trainer
Zoweh Global Consult
zoglocon@gmail.com

 

and

Mrs. Mercy De Souza
Industrial/Organizational Psychologist
Edutek Business Consult
info@edutekbusinessconsult.com

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