Africa

Odd Truths About Working From Home During COVID-19: Africa Edition


April 3, 2020

Globally, cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have surpassed 1 million and fatalities are currently over 50,000, though it’s not entirely doom and gloom as there have been over 220,000 recoveries to-date.

In Africa, confirmed cases continue to soar and the number has risen to just over 7,500 among which there have now been 699 recoveries and 291 deaths so far.

To stem the spread of the virus, the world has gone into containment mode with movement restrictions, and stay-at-home orders among the most widely adopted measures.

With entire cities on lockdown and travels canceled, remote work has come to the fore. Across the world, businesses whose services would fall into the ‘non-essential’ (as defined by various government orders) now have their employees working from home indefinitely.

From tech giants in Silicon Valley to startups in Silicon Savannah, working from home is now the norm. And naturally, it hasn’t been a smooth ride for everyone.

We decided to do a light-hearted roundup of what working from home means for many people in Africa and here’s what we found.

  • If you don’t shower before getting started with work, you probably won’t for the whole day

Actually, this one might be true for persons all over the world who are working from home in these times. 

Before now, a workday typically began with a quick dash into the bathroom for a bowel/bladder clear-up, a mouth wash, and a quick bath. And that’s before getting dressed for work, grabbing a quick breakfast or not, and leaving for work.

But these days, it’s likely that the bowel/bladder clear-up is the only part of the morning routine that has survived. Now it’s all about looking as less disheveled as possible when jumping on that first video call of the morning.

As things stand, baths would now be happening in the evenings or not all. Or whenever someone gets close to you and complains of having their nasal passages assaulted by a cologne called “Eau d’Perhaps I Need A Bath.”

  • You’ll need internet and phone hotspot will probably do a better than Wi-Fi in most places

Of course, there’s a host of Wi-Fi home internet providers to choose from at this time but chances are it has been a struggle more often than not. And guess who saves the day all those times when home internet suck? A phone hotspot.

So, in all thy gettings, don’t forget to also acquire mobile data.

  • If an older family member sees you at home, you’re also the TV remote and the dishwasher

Young Africans who are working from their parents’ homes can certainly relate to this. As some African parents begin to get the gist of working from home, there are still several others who would rather have their kid come all the way downstairs to hand them a TV remote that is literally an arm’s length away. Also, working from home means you get to do chores.

  • Power outages are a given and a low battery will humble you

Even in areas that have a fairly constant power supply, the new demands of such unpredictable times mean that power outages can and will happen at any time. So everything now has to stay charged at all times. Also, generators, power banks, and inverters are the plug.

  • Your work desk is also a makeshift salon, kitchen counter, and dining table

It possible that wires and cables aren’t the only things getting entangled at your work-from-home station. Apparently, hair strands are too. And that’s because your aunt and baby sister think it’s okay to loosen a braid and make a weave while sitting at your desk.

Also, expect to find food crumbs which you know nothing of every other day. It might be a workstation for you but it’s also someone else’s food station.

  • Guests will show up uninvited and be offended when you ignore them

This is Africa and showing up at people’s houses uninvited is a way of life. Even though they are supposed to be observing social distancing or self-isolating by staying indoors, people will get bored and visit a friend nearby even though they know that person will be swarmed with work. 

And that nearby friend might be you. Plus you’ll have to massage their egos for choosing to earn your pay instead of sitting down to gist with them.

  • When you go grocery shopping, 90% of the things you got are not yours

Does this need any further explanation? Probably not. Well, everyone’s home and you’re the one with the ‘cool’ job that COVID-19 can’t stop. You’ll grab stuff for yourself and for others when you visit the grocery store but end up with even less than half of what you got for yourself after distribution.

Featured Image Courtesy: ScienceMag

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