The Head of Human Capital Development, Chams PLC, Ola John Oluremi, discusses the remote working culture, future of work and other human resources management issues in the light of the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic with Rasheed Adebiyi
Tell us about yourself
My Name is Ola John Oluremi (FCIA, MITD, MNIM, CPM, ACIPM). I am currently the Head of Human Capital Development of Chams PLC, one of the leading ICT companies in Nigeria. I am a seasoned Administrator, an astute management expert, experienced Human Resources Professional and a Certified Trainer with over 15 years long standing experience in Manufacturing, FMCG, Agriculture, Management Consulting, Training and ICT industries of the economy. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Guidance and Counselling, a Masters degree in Educational Psychology and about rounding up my Ph.D programme in Personnel Psychology from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
As a Human Resources Manager, what is your take on the remote working culture as dictated by the COVID 19 Pandemic? Has it been productive?
To start with, long before the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic, about five years ago, some of us in the field of Human Capital Development have really been advocating for the adoption of flex-working schedules and the promotion of remote working culture among some industries like ICT, Financial and Service sectors of the economy. Our position is based on the simple fact that promoting and adopting the culture of remote working in those sectors of the economy will enable their employees integrate life between work and their personal life, as well as achieve balance in both. It will also reduce commuting time, traf?c frustrations or stress and for parents, it will reduce child care costs as hours are minimized.To this end, my take on the adoption of remote working schedules especially during this COVID 19 Pandemic is a welcome development, as it will help to stop the quick spread of the deadly virus as people will be made to observe the principle of social distancing as they work from home.
Consequently, the adoption of remote working culture by organizations during this lockdown period of COVID 19 will be productive if the necessary remote working tools are readily made available to staff. Such tools include functional laptops, smart phones, data or internet connectivity, power supply, and a strong performance management tools to monitor and assess the progress performance of staff based on the set and agreed KPIs. A 2016 study by a US staff monitoring company, Hubstaff, found that remote workers are more productive, log more hours, take less sick leave, perform better, and in general are more engaged at work.
What are the additional skills requirements imposed on employees by the remote working environment many companies are forced to comply with?
The additional competencies that will be highly needed in order for employees to be able to function effectively during and after this COVID 19 period and the remote working era include strong ICT skills, creativity, innovative, strategic and problem-solving skills amongst others.
Experts have predicted that there would be job losses after the war against the novel virus has been won. Do you subscribe to this? As a Human Resources Management person, what is your advice for current employees?
Yes, it is true that there would be some job losses as the surging number of Coronavirus cases across the globe would push most economies into recession as predicted by Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. (IMF). Currently, about 90% of organizations involved in the provision of non-essential goods and services have shut down their business operations as a drastic measure taken to limit the spread of the virus. The implication of this is that there will not be cash flow for those organizations to pay their employee salaries and as such, the affected organizations will be forced to restructure their operating business model by down-sizing their workforce.
Equally, as we know that employers of labour are now forced to adopt the principle of work at home through the use of ICT support system like Economic Resources Planning Software (ERP, IPPIS), Machine- Learning (ML), Artificial intelligence (AI), Block-chain Technology (BT), Robotic Science tools (RS), Social media platforms (Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, ZOOM,etc) to enhance their operational excellence and increase their productivity level. The impact of these new trends is that some administrative, clerical and operational job holders will soon become redundant within a short period of time.
Consequently, my advice to employees is that they should prepare their minds for challenging times after COVID 19 pandemic might have gone. As employees that will function effectively in their respective jobs after COVID 19 are those that will be highly technologically savvy. To this end, employees must learn to brace up their skills set especially as it relates to ICT competencies so that they can become active players in this new tech world.
Do job seekers and recent graduates have any hope of being employed post COVID 19 in the light of the frightening projection of massive job loss especially in the private sector?
Yes, smart and intelligent job seekers and graduates who may possess top skills and values employers seek from job-seekers will have a better chance of being employed after the COVID 19 period.These skills and values among others are listed below. So, job seekers should continue to warehouse skills such as computer literacy skills, problem-solving or creativity skills, analytical or research skills, strong communication skills, effective planning or organising skills, flexibility or adaptability skills as well as leadership or management skills. Apart from these skills, any job seekers who want to be relevant should also have multicultural awareness, strong moral values, dedication and be self motivated to work with little or no supervision. All of these combine with self-confidence and willingness to learn at all times would give a candidate an edge.
The Minister of Education recently directed educational institutions to go digital with teaching. Do you think this new culture of remote learning would assist the students with the much-needed skills for labour market?.
As a trained and certified educationist and as a professional human capital development expert with my working experience in the ICT sector of the Economy, I strongly believe that the directive of the Minister of Education is much in line with the current reality on ground.
Long before now, some academic institutions in the developed world have been running most of their courses on line and a lot of students from Africa have keyed into that method of acquiring knowledge and getting certificates to that effect. In a related development, some people have gotten their professional certifications through the online means of trainings and programme. Evidence abound that taking online courses and programmes are equally as effective as the face to face method of teaching. We already have some online sites that offer academic and professional courses to interested candidates. Such online courses are offered by Udemy, Coursera, Alibaba Cloud Certification, Google Online Training and so on.
It is pertinent to know that at present, most international and national conferences, trainings, seminars, workshops are being virtually organized online. This is in order to be in conformity with the theory of Social distancing. In the light of above, I strongly support the directive of the Minister of Education directing our educational institutions to go digital with their teaching.
It is said recently that young graduates these days look for jobs instead of careers. Could you shed more light on the difference between the two concepts?
Yes, from all indications, it seems that most young graduates these days look for jobs as against trying to build a long-lasting career. One of the reasons for this mindset among young graduates could be linked to the type of demographic generation they belong to. They are classified as the Millennials or Generation Y also known as Gen Y. Born between early 1980s and early 2000s, they are tech savvy, digital natives imbued with can-do attitude. They are diverse, entrepreneurial, multi-taskers, risk-takers global citizens. They are not fond of rigid working environment and are productivity-oriented. They are the most connected generation in history.
They are looking for a job that will help them to integrate life between work and their personal life, as well as achieve balance in both. They want a job that will provide flexible working hours for them which they believe will motivate them the most to accomplish their tasks at work. They want a job and a working environment that allows time for fun activities at work. Millennials are undoubtedly drawn to experimenting and trying new things. Consequently, this could explain the reason why they just want any job and do not want to stay long in any organization for the purpose of building their career.
The difference between a job and a career could be captured as follows. A job is something you do simply to earn money minimal impact on your future work life; a career is a series of connected employment opportunities which provides experience and learning to fuel your future. A job offers few networking opportunities, but a career is loaded with them.