Together with Boundless Minds Uganda, our short blog series
will focus on the workplace post COVID-19.
Youth employment, skills training and job creation are at the forefront of both organisations. According to recent reports COVID-19 will impact young people in Sub-Saharan Africa the hardest, the aim of this series is to equip all stakeholders with information, expert advice, and a dose of inspiration.
Our first guest contributor is Ruby Engena, a woman of many talents who will take us through how to maximise your time during this lockdown period.
- Tell us about your work?
Well, I currently work with Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda. I provide support to the Sales, Marketing, HR, Finance and Public Affairs and Communications Teams.
I am also the Founder of House of Ruby; a Talent Hub for young professionals. Currently House of Ruby offers DJ, MC, HR, Mwogezi, Chef & Catering, Events’ Planning and Decoration services. Our Restaurant – Dek Olel [Pasted Food] is currently on Safe Boda App; make an order. We believe strongly that where one’s passion is, therein lies their purpose.
Lastly, I am an HR Professional, a DJ, an MC and a speaker. I am also a Believer; Yes, I believe Christianity is a full time job; ask me about this another day.
- There must be drastic changes now that you have had to adjust a lot of your routines. How are you making sure to stay productive?
Whoa! If I start to talk. God help me! Lol! I have done a lot of ‘mind work.’ Being intentional in setting my mind in the right space has helped me stay productive. I have also been intentional with my Physical and Spiritual Health. My days start or end with exercise. I am also conscious of what and how I eat. You cannot stay productive if you are not physically fit and alert!
I have also been intentional in keeping my working hours. The lockdown caused most of us to work from home. This does not change the commitment I have to my employer. Because my employer is committed to me, I have to be committed as well by being intentional in my working hours and actually ensuring that I deliver. If anything, this is the time to prove that I am indispensable, team no sleep!
With my team at House of Ruby, we are focusing a lot on communication. I have had to have conversations with team members weekly as opposed to Monthly as was before. This is really to keep on checking on their space as a business but also on how they are doing. If one is not careful, this lockdown could and sadly will lead to many mental health issues. The least I can do is ensure that none of them is from the people I lead.
- A lot of work involves constant learning and needing to innovate. How have you managed to do that during this lockdown period?
The basis of innovation is really to give solutions to what would be deemed as a problem. We live in times where we either innovate or die.
My employer always puts 5 categories of people first and these are; our staff, our consumers, our customers, our community and our shareholders. CCBA has focused a lot not only on the safety of all but also on ensuring that employees are paid, consumers and customers are receiving our wide range of products and our shareholders continue to get value. We have partnered with a couple of brands and we have also increased our home deliveries. At the end of the day, lockdown or no lockdown, our goal is to refresh Africa everyday.
At House of Ruby, during the first lockdown, we were quick to identify a ‘problem,’ CHILDREN ARE HOME! We therefore had to think fast and change our strategy. We are currently entering people’s homes virtually and teaching their children different skills like public speaking, cooking, self esteem and saxophone playing for those who own one. We have over the past Month had slightly over 50 sessions with different children. We also enrolled our restaurant Dek Olel on Safe Boda so as to continue serving our customers during this time. Not only did we do this, but we also provided wall hangings for Mothers’ Day, in conjunction with Future Bridals and Gift Shop. We also set up virtual sessions with our saxophonist, to play nice ballads for Mothers on Mothers’ day.
Innovation is a daily thing. We are constantly in that process and there is more to come from us. Watch!
- It is clear that the work space is going to suffer disruption as a result of this pandemic. What do you think the future of work will look like after this?
The future of work is millennial. Quite a number of millennials today are pro work-from-home, flexi time etc. This style of working has been realized by not too many businesses. The Lockdown has proved that it is possible to work remotely. The future of work is really shared work spaces, working remotely and I also predict the ‘gig economy’ not to boom as much. Business owners during this lockdown have realized that there is a DIY [Do it Yourself] thing going on. I honestly think that someone who runs a catering business will not hire a photographer to take pictures every time a new recipe is out, rather, they will hire a PR person who can take photos too. In short, we need to learn as many skills as we can and be indispensable
I worry for the human race because we, and Ugandans in particular, are touchy feely. The fact that the majority can now work from home and be away from people may low-key lead to mental health issues. Human Beings are wired to relate, through touch, quality time etc. Zoom’s option of ‘raise your hand’ is not good enough.
- So how then would you suggest that young people make the most of this time?
For starters, REST! I do not think we will have another time like this soon. Use this opportunity to get that much needed rest as often as you can.
Secondly, take care of you…physically! Emotionally! Spiritually! Financially! Exercise, eat well, think good thoughts, budget, plan etc. Your body is the ONLY place you have to live
START! Yes. START! That Bible you wanted to start reading, that prayer you wanted to say, That business idea, that book you wanted to write, that podcast you wanted to record, that video you wanted to upload, that Facebook page you wanted to open, START!. Now is the time. Noah built the ark for donkey years with no rain. Build your ark, the rain will catch up with you.
Learn as much as you can. Learn things that are of interest to you especially.
STAY IN YOUR LANE. So what if everyone around you is baking mandazi and cakes, and sending flyers about different services that they are offering? Your race is not their race. For some of us, this lockdown could have been an opportunity to rethink everything and start over and that is ok. So look at your lane, peep at the others but stay in yours and WALK in it, DO NOT SLEEP.
Lastly; pray, wash your hands and keep a social distance. COVID-19 is real.
Join the conversation on our social accounts #WorkPostCOVID19, stay tuned for the rest of our series.