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ILO, NECA unveil report on workplace ‘Next Normal’

By Gloria Nwafor
12 April 2022   |   2:33 am
The International Labour Organisation (ILO), through its Bureau for Employers’ Activities (ACT/EMP), in collaboration with Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), has unveiled a survey report as part of a global research for Africa to understudy how COVID-19 pandemic and technology are shaping the next normal.       Presenting the report titled ‘The Next Normal: The Changing Workplace in…

Taiwo Adeniyi

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), through its Bureau for Employers’ Activities (ACT/EMP), in collaboration with Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), has unveiled a survey report as part of a global research for Africa to understudy how COVID-19 pandemic and technology are shaping the next normal.  
   
Presenting the report titled ‘The Next Normal: The Changing Workplace in Nigeria,’ President of NECA, Taiwo Adeniyi, said the move by the duo was another proactive and innovative approach to its campaign for a friendly business environment in Nigeria using the support of evidence-based advocacy. 
   
According to the report, beyond the loss of human lives were the loss of jobs, negative impact on employers and businesses.
He said globally, business operation was disrupted, which brought about changes in work system, as it relates to human resource management, workplace structure and mode of work.
  
He said most organisations were compelled to embrace remote work options, flexible work hours and the changes affected both employers and employees in diverse ways.
  
While productivity, costs of doing business, income and profit of business organisations were affected; he said that workers suffered disruption in work hours, wages and salaries and employment loss in some cases.
  
He said the research on changing workplace presented a collection of views on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on businesses and work in Nigeria.
  
According to him, it describes the varying ways in which the pandemic has affected work and the workplace; changing production strategies; the role of labour law and regulatory framework in navigating the pandemic; adaptation of businesses in terms of upskilling and reskilling needs and management of human resources.
    
“One critical evidence from the study is the indication that COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of remote work practices such as “work-from-anywhere,” a form of work anticipated in the future of work initiatives of the ILO.  While adoption of work-from-anywhere in organisations is likely to increase, as the pandemic winds down, it is likely that hybrid-remote arrangements will become the norm at workplaces globally. Employers have to prepare for a “Next Normal,” he said.
 
Making a formal launch of the report, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, canvassed for an inclusive, resilient workplace to adopt a ‘next normal’ in the workplace.
    
He said while reviewing and establishing the next normal, importance must be accorded to different modules that had been projected by the international community based on multilateral approach to human advancement.
   
In determining the ‘next normal’, Ngige said it was important the ILO’s four-pillar policy framework, based on international labour standards, for tackling the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 to aid in the recovery and building better was acknowledged.
   
The four pillars, according to him provided guidance to member states on the building blocks for a human-centred recovery devoid of inequality.

Ngige said the report, which has four thematic areas of coverage – working space; workplace and labour laws; skill development, knowledge sharing and productivity; and human resource management are all human-centred and in tandem with the global quest to build forward, better and sustainably. 
   
With all hands on deck, especially the social partners, he added that it was certain that Nigeria would not be left behind in the quest.

   
He said: “Though the workplace is changing, the fundamental principles and rights at work remain the same.  In so doing, lets bear in mind the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for a Just Transition launched by the United Nations Secretary General in September 2021, to ensure an increase in the level and coordination of the multilateral system’s efforts to help countries create 400 million decent jobs including in the green, digital and care economies; and to extend social protection coverage to the four billion people currently excluded. These are considered efforts vital to poverty alleviation and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
  
Director of the ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Vanessa Phala, who said that Africa has been hit hard by the pandemic, said workers and enterprises have responded to the challenges with great resilience and adaptability.     
   
She said the report presented useful insight how employers are navigating due to this unprecedented time as well as pertinent issues on what employers are dealing with.
  
Stating that the launch was coming at the right time even when the world is still in the pandemic, Phala added that the report was an opportunity to continue to know how “we reposition our enterprises and respond adequately at how we respond to the pandemic. This is an evidenced-based document with NECA’s advocacy initiative.”
  
She said: “In this regard, the 102 session of ILO June, 2021 conference adopted a global call for action with human-centred recovery from COVID-19. The global call prioritises the creation on decent jobs and addresses the inequalities caused by the crisis, with economies having an inclusive, sustainable and resilient economy. ILO is providing relevant support in assisting countries in addressing the challenges post-recovery.”