Workers in the Lagos State University (LASU) have been told to invest their time and resources in acquiring new skills and knowledge to remain relevant in the post- Covid-19 world of work. The advice was given by the Registrar, Lagos State University, Mr Mohammed Olayinka Amuni, mni, and other seasoned Human Resource Leaders at the 6th Virtual Training for members of staff of the Lagos State University held on Tuesday, 22nd June, 2020 via the Zoom Application.
Amuni, alongside the Former Registrar, University of Lagos, Mrs Taiwo Ipaye; Deputy Registrar, Legal, Lagos State University, Mrs Olajumoke O. Boyejo and Former Human Resource Manager, Shell Petroleum, Mrs Busola Alofe, spoke at the lecture titled Covid-19 and University Administration: Transitioning to a New Normal” Moderated by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic, Professor Olumuyiwa Noah, with over 420 participants in attendance.
Speaking on the topic: “Optimizing the Time Space for Sustainable Career Growth”, Mr Amuni called on workers to adapt to Covid-19 pandemic-enforced changes in the workplace by utilizing their free time to acquire relevant skills in order to stay ahead of the pack, or at the very least, stay in the pack, without being left behind. He noted that the government’s directives on lockdown has led to a situation where many workers are forced to stay at home with little or no work to do. Such a free time, he said, must not be wasted but leveraged upon for self-improvement.
“For you as a worker to leverage on the pandemic, you must know yourself, be willing to broaden your knowledge, invest in the right resources, accessing online learning resources, remote working and networking.
“The career landscape has changed drastically as a result of globalization and technological advancement. For an employee to build a sustainable career, he or she must remain knowledgeable, healthy, productive and employable. The employee must therefore focus on acquiring digital skills, technical skills, leadership skills, people’s skill and business skill, all of which I consider as core skills that will help him/her adapt to the changing nature of the world of work.”
He concluded thus: “stay ahead of the present or potential competition by focusing on developing your skills, knowledge and attitude while embracing technology. Build a strong reputation for yourself by investing in your expertise.”
The Immediate Past Registrar, University of Lagos, Mrs. Taiwo Ipaye, in her lecture titled “Embracing the Changing Work Culture, Driving Integration and Innovation in Service Delivery in Post-Covid19 Era” took participants back to the workplace of Pre Covid19 Era where Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and the age of Big Data were touted to be imminent as the future of work. That future, she insisted, is now the reality upon the workplace. She revealed that the Government’s lockdown of parts of the country as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic led to the suspension of business and social activities. To their advantage however, many private sector organisations are able to adapt seamlessly to remote working because they had hitherto embraced technological innovation on a large scale at both corporate and individual levels especially as a larger percentage of their workforce are millennials who are more technologically savvy.
For the education sector, she noted that Universities were forced to lock down on the order of the Government even as private institutions that had the capacity moved their academic activities on virtual platforms. She added that the conservative nature of many University officers and the absence of the right infrastructure will ensure that academic and administrative activities in public institutions remain skeletal until normalcy returns.
“Covid-19 has disrupted life globally and universities are no exception. To respond effectively to the new normal, we must understand the importance of hiring flexible talents in the workforce, the need to define the platform for the Post Covid-19 workforce, and effective utilisation of the skills of the millennials.
“For the organisations, they must embrace Artificial Intelligence and automation, and change and adapt their business models to embrace realities of the new workplace.
“For the human resource officers, the pandemic has led to the rise of new professions, the workforce for which our universities must be ready to train” adding that “the challenge before public servants is that you must reinvent yourselves, rebrand, innovate and acquire skills that will enable you work from home effectively, learn the language of the millennials and add value to your institution, and make use of technology.”
The Deputy Registrar (Legal), Mrs. Olajumoke Boyejo, who spoke on the topic “Covid-19: Emerging Issues and the Future of Contractual Obligations” revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic posed negative effects for contractual agreements including failure to fulfil financial obligations to the lender, inability to deliver timely on construction contracts, inability to file claims within a statutory time frame, supply chain disruption and non-adherence to terms of employment, amongst others. She revealed that unusual events like the Covid-19 pandemic compels that a Force Majeure Clause must be included in every contracts to protect both parties.
“A Force Majeure Clause in a contractual agreement will cover circumstances outside the control of man if it is an occurrence beyond the reasonable control of that party. Such a clause will either excuse the party’s obligation altogether or suspend for a specific period of time the performance of the contract.
” In the event that your contract does not contain this clause, the doctrine of frustration may apply as a result of circumstances such as outbreak of war, cancellation by an unexpected event such as death, government acquisition and statutory impossibility.”
She further enjoined those who find themselves in such situation not to permit self-induced frustration, incure unforeseen expenses or difficulty, or breach contract before the occurrence of the frustrating event, but rather explore new options.
“Options to explore for commercial obligations during and Post-Covid19 include renegotiation of terms, ” No-Fault” consensual termination of contract, extension of limitation timeframe, proceed using “documents-only” hearing or opt for technological means like video conferencing.”
To round-off the robust discussions, an A-list Human Resource Personnel, former Human Resource Manager at Shell Petroleum, Mrs Busola Alofe added that the new world of work is one driven by data and technology where the work, worker and workplace must be integrated in such a way as to achieve the right results.
Speaking on the topic “Covid-19 and the New Dynamics of Employer/Employee Relationships”, Mrs Alofe said ” the future of work is being shaped by two powerful forces: the growing adoption of Artificial Intelligence in the workplace and the expansion of the workforce to include both on and off balance sheet talents. In the new world of work, data and technology are king.”
On Employer/Employee relationship in the new workplace, Alofe revealed that employers are now looking for productivity, low cost and flexibility from employees while employees on their part are demanding good pay, fair conditions and job security with the outcome being a negotiated pay and conditions between them. She listed the eight factors of engagement as accountability, purpose, agility, recognition, care, trust, development and resources noting that highly engaged employees leads increased productivity and customer satisfaction.
“Organisations that want to become and remain employers of choice ask themselves: what will motivate employees (or prospective employees) to come and work for our organisation, work hard for our organisation and want to stay working for our organisation (rather than going to work for competitors?), she concluded.