Kenya: Telecommuting - Kenyans Speak on Challenges as Coronavirus Forces Firms to Send Staff Off-Site

Second hand clothes on display at a stall in Toi Market in Nairobi.

Nairobi — As the country moved to curb the spread of coronavirus which has so far killed over 7,000 globally, a section of Kenyans have heeded to the calls of social distancing with companies adopting measures that have seen some workers directed to work from home.

Though a precautionary measure, working from home some say presents its share of challenges.

One of the main challenges those working from home are grappling with is constant distractions from children who have now been sent home as the Ministry of Education ordered the closure of institutions of learning.

Ron Wanjala, this being his first time for him working from home, is finding it difficult to remain focused on tasks assigned to him as is the case when working from office.

"As long as am home my children think its play time and again there is a bit of laziness when working from home and there is no discipline," he said on Wednesday.

Brenda Kinyanjui, a journalist, said working from home is limiting for field staff as is the case with news reporters who are often dispatched to the field to source for stories.

"Working from home will depend on job description, some jobs one has to step out, with the given situation it's going to be difficult for some of us," she said.

Dr Sam Kamau, a media and communications scholar and lecturer based at Aga Khan University's Graduate School of Media and Communications, said the main challenge of working from home is staying away from social media, television, the fridge and playful children.

"The truth is very few people can work from home unless you are single, have a reliable internet connection and a spacious room," he said.

"My productivity has been severely undermined by my 4 year old boy who doesn't want to see me concentrating on my computer. Anytime is play time," Dr Kamau added.

Despite its shortcomings, others say its cheaper working from home as it cuts down costs incurred fueling cars and paying bus fare.

Those working from home also do not have to encounter traffic jams especially in Nairobi, Mombasa and other major towns.

Justus Mulei, a regional coordinator of an international NGO, said with internet he gets things done. He emphasized that working from home presented nothing different from what he does in office.

"So long as I have internet I can skype with my colleagues we do online meetings if there are reports we send emails," he said.

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