Positive change through adversity: Stories from PKF International’s people
07 May 2020
Many of us take internet access for granted. But such accessibility is not a given for many.
For the PKF offices across Eastern Africa, more limited access to the internet – alongside scheduled power cuts – have meant that remote working put in place due to coronavirus management has required careful planning to achieve client service delivery. The firm currently has 38 partners and directors and a staff force of approximately 750.
“We’ve had to go the extra mile to make sure our people can have online access to be able to work on their assignments and access systems at certain times remotely,” explains PKF Eastern Africa HR Development Manager Christine Wamukoya.
Staff in entry level roles have been given an ‘airtime allowance’, so that they can submit reports or access organisational portals while working remotely. The allowance can be loaded as data onto a phone which can then be connected to a laptop.
Job plans were created for each team, “so that on a week-by-week basis it’s clear what’s expected of our people and those managing them”, says Christine. “They also know when they can connect online with each other to communicate and share work.” Ultimately, much time is spent working offline (mostly on assignments), so consideration needs to be made as to what work can be undertaken.
This has worked well, says Christine, and “people have been responsive.”
Face-to-face communication is very important in Africa, and so making the transition to remote working was tough for some. “But we ran trials, simulations and they bought into it.”
A region’s plan of action was shared with the clients via an online communique. This explained how the firms in the region would be operating, and outlined several options available for them to contact their engagement teams at PKF.
Remote, or flexible, working will become a bigger part of the regional firms’ future, Christine believes.
“Before Covid-19 we’d been talking about working remotely and flexi-hours, so this has pushed us towards what we’d been considering in certain instances, particularly for new mothers. However, this could be a way of operation for all staff moving forward.
“We have noticed that some of our teams’ and individuals’ productivity has improved because there are fewer interruptions, as well as a significant time saving commuting to the office. This will definitely change how we work in the future where required, and for the better.”