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The current COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to let employees work from home. For many, remote work is a new reality that requires quick adoption. However, whether working from home by choice or by necessity, it has its benefits such as saving time and money by avoiding daily commute. It also means one requires self-motivation in order to get as much done as though operating in a normal workplace setting. 

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In order to be highly effective, adoption of the following habits is critical in getting the job done.

  1. Avoid distractions:Distractions are the biggest challenge when working remotely. To keep your brain in the right mode, avoid doing non-work tasks during your work time. For example, schedule a separate time to do laundry instead of tackling it while you are finishing a work presentation.
  2. Create work triggers for your brain: When working in an office, the daily routine of getting ready and commuting helps your brain get ready for the day. But when you are working remotely, you can create a routine of activities that can get your head ready for work in a similar way, like exercising, reading the news, or making coffee.
  3. Recreate your workplace at home:Getting yourself a workspace may also be key. A more structured and designated workspace, whether it is a separate room or a fully stocked desk, can help tell your brain you are in the place where you do work productively and without distraction. 
  4. Get organized with a to-do list:A simple to-do list can do wonders in keeping you organized, motivated, and productive as you work from home. As you create your list, think about big, long-term goals, like finishing a project, as well as small goals like completing tasks that lead to that big goal. Checking off those smaller goals lets you know you are making progress, which keeps you motivated throughout your day. And work feels much more doable when it is not all one giant task.
  5. Know when to stop working: A common challenge when working remotely is usually working too much. You see your computer nearby, for instance, and you have an urge to check your email constantly throughout the evening. That is why it is important to determine in advance when your workday will end. It is advisable to retain the office work schedule unless you are forced by some urgent tasks. 
  6. Maintain Constant Communication with your colleagues and manager: The key to being successful in any professional role is communication, but when it comes to working remotely work it is an even more important asset. Since you are no longer a few desks down from your co-workers or your manager, you need to ensure that you maintain communication with them on a regular basis to connect on your goals, upcoming projects and daily tasks, or just to have a catch up conversation. 

Certainly, working from home is not easy, even for those who have been doing it for years and this is especially because it is difficult to develop, and stick to a new routine. For many, it is a whole new experience that could affect their work in a positive or negative way. It is however possible to still maintain high productivity working remotely just as you would while working at your normal workplace. 

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In the weeks following the announcement of the first COVID-19 case in Kenya on March 13, 2020, a considerable number of organizations were caught in tight spot- that of reducing employee salaries, sending them on unpaid leave or dismissing them from their duties all together. Employers had to make such decisions because of the prevailing economic circumstances. Those who were lucky stayed on, and they still hold jobs to date, one year down the line.

In September 2020, data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showed that Kenya's unemployment rate doubled to 10.4 percent in the second quarter of the year compared to 5.2 percent in the first quarter, compounding the situation from bad to worse. Sadly, some businesses closed and have never reopened to date.

While high unemployment rate remains a major unresolved challenge, youth tend to be most affected. With the situation at hand, the key thing is for organisations to lead the way in supporting and empowering the youth.

According to the Commonwealth Youth Ministers, youth empowerment refers to creating and supporting enabling conditions under which the young people can act on their own and on their terms rather than the direction of others. Considered as a gateway to economic empowerment, it remains one of the strongest pillars for organizations to create sustainable businesses and an enabling environment for them to thrive. This can be done in the following ways:

1. Amplifying available opportunities

One of the ways to enable youth access the opportunities is to make sure that they are aware of the opportunities in the first place. This enables then to effectively tap into the available resources effectively.

For businesses, being able to communicate in detail on how to get such opportunities creates a more appealing environment to empower the youth. For instance, we at the Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen) advertise all opportunities in the media, social media platforms and our website.

With proper awareness about these existing opportunities, especially under government’s Access to Government Procurement Services (AGPO), the youth are able to access them. We are happy with the impact we have made so far, and continue to make. In 2018 and 2019, for instance, we awarded tenders worth Ksh 389 million and 459 million to youth respectively.

2. Conducting training and mentorship programmes on economic empowerment

There is no doubt that skills and knowledge are some of the most important assets in the times we are living in. Training and mentorship plays a critical role in enabling the youth to manage their financials well while enhancing their creativity in advancing their projects.

By businesses creating platforms through which youth can be trained or mentored on how to overcome the challenges and also develop winning solutions, they shall be better placed to drive economic empowerment. This way, they can create their own opportunities. Additionally, businesses need to conduct programs geared towards enhancing the transfer of skills from one generation to the other and also unlocking the potential of the youth. At KenGen, youth training and mentorship is one of our key focus areas in our efforts towards creating sustainable generations.

3. Enhancing collaborations on empowerment opportunities

Collaboration is one of the ways through which businesses can gather scarce resources and create more opportunities collectively. With businesses exploring more avenues for collaborating, as we do at KenGen with communities living near our power plants, our youth are continuously presented with opportunities to unlock their potential.

Coming at the backdrop of social-economic impacts occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, this sets a good foundation towards attaining economic empowerment.

4. Including youth in decision making

Whenever youth are incorporated in decision-making, their leadership skills are enhanced, and their confidence levels boosted. This can also help in bringing out their critical thinking abilities while encouraging them not to practise favouritism and bias in the process allowing them to become solid leaders who are open-minded.

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