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Business in Egypt during Coronavirus Crisis: “SAFETY FIRST, WORK FROM HOME”

2 weeks 4 days ago

Working from Home (WFH) or remote work is increasingly getting more popular around the globe. In the current situation and outbreak of Coronavirus lots of businesses decided to let their employees work from home for their safety. Big corporate like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Amazon have implemented working from home policies for most or all of their employees all over their offices worldwide. However, some companies are having different policies, as some would allow workers to work from home for few days or on a rotational basis, and some other companies would allow the whole week to work from home. In Egypt, not only companies work remotely, but also some startups decided to do remote educational training free like Entrepenelle, RiseUp, and others. Due to the technology assets, the American University along with some national universities in Egypt decided to start distance learning.

Startups

“RiseUp” Summit

RiseUp, the organizer of the biggest Summit in Egypt for startups, exhibitors and investors, took the initiative to let their team work from home to avoid gatherings and they are being proactive offering live episode of Entrepreneurship 101 series started on 18th of March, Wednesday, orgnized by “Halan” startup and in partnership with “Cash Cows” startup hosted by RiseUpConnect group through Facebook Live service. Farah Badrawy, the business development manager at RiseUp, said about the working from the home decision; “I find that working from home helps me get lots of work done, and get more focused.” She added that the tools they utilize for working from home are; “Zoom for conference calls, Google Hangouts, for internal communication we use slack, emails, and ClickUp for project management”. They are doing great efforts to keep their work going in the current circumstances due to the cancellation of any gatherings.

Injaz Egypt

Injaz Egypt, training and development organization to promote the skills of employability and entrepreneurship among Egypt’s youth, transferred their staff work to be done from home. Nadine Yakout, Entrepreneurship and Innovation senior specialist talked to us about Injaz Egypt preventive action and she said: “Injaz Egypt takes the health and safety of its employees and community very seriously.  Therefore, it issued a policy to counter the risk of Coronavirus spread allowing our employees to work from home. They have been asked to share their calendars with all members of the organization, and to actively use Microsoft teams to communicate, in addition to, of course, paying close attention to their emails”. Yakout added; “Injaz Egypt trust the work ethics of its employees, and though challenging that they will overcome this hurdle with productivity and safety”.

Flat6labs

Flat6Labs, a business incubator and accelerator startup, had decided to continue working from home. Rana Hafez, a communication officer at Flat6labs, said; “in light of the current situation of the COVID-19 spread, Flat6labs Cairo’s team has transferred all its offline program activities to online”. Hafez added; “this includes one-on-one meetings, training sessions, and even pitch nights.” They hosted their very first online pitch night on Wednesday, 18th of March, for their cycle 14 cohort, where the startups presented their ideas to Flat6Labs Cairo own alumni. The startup founders got some valuable feedback and insights from the founders of ILLA, Taskty.com, AXON, and BeXE.

Wasla Browser

Wasla Browser is the first Egyptian startup to give rewarding points for using their browser giving away the four operators prepaid credit in Egypt. Mohanad Ali, the advertising operations manager, said; “working from home is convenient for most of the company’s employees, with e-meeting solutions like Zoom and Google hangouts we can conduct all our meetings in a very effective way”. Ali added about the pros of working remotely; “saving the time of transportation at least is a very valuable matter, however creating a quiet spot at home with no interruptions can be a bit challenging”. He also confirmed that the challenge of having sustainable internet is affecting the working productivity. Walsa browser is trying to be proactive and utilize the Wasla browser feed to give updates about the Coronavirus situation to the browser users through their mobiles.

Distance Learning: Private and National Universities

The American University in Cairo

In addition to startups, technology is used to save the running academic semester for universities like the American University in Cairo (AUC). Dr. Naila Hamdy, the associate dean of the School of Global Communications and Public Policy (GAPP), said that; “of course, we are ahead of the curve deciding to close operations at the university to sanitize the buildings and the whole place”. About the online learning she said; “the staff and faculty are already trained for using remote and distance learning tools, however, we are using now more tools to ensure that we could reach our students efficiently”. She mentioned communication tools used; “like creating WhatsApp Groups with each professor, Zoom accounts for all the students with its upgraded version, and also using tools such as Blackboard from a long time ago”. She added that; “we are meeting to get the adequate training, because some tools we have not used before, or they are updated, and we needed to train on the latest versions”. Besides, Dr. Hamdy confirmed that; “AUC is trying its best to make the rest of the semester go smooth and avoid any difficulties for the faculty and students alike”.

Helwan University

Many of national universities exerted sincere efforts to combat the challenges they are facing to continue the academic semester. Dr. Sohier Abdel Salam, the dean of Arts at Helwan University, said that; “the president of the university, Dr. Maged Negm, urged us all faculty and staff to meet and see alternative options to avoid the Coronavirus spread and delay in the academic sessions before the decision of suspending the academic semester from the government side”. Dr. Abdel Salam said that it is challenging as the total number of students is above 20,000 students under the school of Arts, and the specialties numbers are more than 1280 with over 18 subcategories. The professors are also trying to communicate with the students with multiple ways; like Facebook, WhatsApp, and through a technology lab that was created in 6 universities in Egypt by the European Fund for distance learning purposes. During this week, some sessions were done online and were shared with the students, and it will continue to happen till the quarantine is over. It is important to mention that Helwan University, and most of the national universities are working towards digitalization as per the country’s vision 2030.

The self-quarantine is very crucial at this phase
to keep Egypt sustaining low number of Coronavirus cases.

Corporates in Egypt

Orange Business Services

Before any official announcements about working from home for companies, Orange Business Services decided to implement the work from home and do rotational shifts among staff. Donia Fikry, Service manager at Orange Business Services, said: “we have working from home capabilities as a regular thing because we are working for international clients, so we reach out to people all over the world. At Orange Business services, we should be connected via the same network through VPN. Therefore, we use secure access through “SafeNet” software, and the authentication by mobile pass as if we are in the office having all policies applied on the remote access”.

Vodafone Egypt

Vodafone Egypt announced on 18th of March that they will stay at home according to Vodafone Egypt CEO, Alexandre Froment-Curtil, he posted on his Facebook account stating that; “at Vodafone Egypt we care for the wellbeing of our customers and employees”. He added; “all our Vodafone DSL bundles get 20% extra data for free, the data usage on the government’s online educational platforms is for free, all emergency hotline number are for free”. In addition, he confirmed on the cleanliness of the retails stores saying that they “are safe for our customers and employees”. Adding to this he assured that; “2000 engineers are working 24/7 to ensure our network quality, and 80% of our employees can work from home using digital tools”. He ended his statement with hashtag “Stay Home, Stay Connect”.

ITworx

ITWorx, technology, full service digital transformation service provider, has applied working from home drill to test connectivity and VPN power starting from last Tuesday,17th of March, working with online tools and connectivity with their clients and internally within all countries they operate from. Samar El Shazly, Operational Excellence manager, told us that; “starting last Tuesday we started drill for business continuity plan scenario for full company work from home. After Tuesday, it was up to the department head to decide the working model that best fit the employee’s safety, still to fulfill business needs with rotational basis or total work from home”. The contingency plan is tested, and ITworx team is working as usual from home and some from their offices.

AT the end, all corporates, startups, and educational institutions have a great role in keep the community safe, and they are having a greater burden to keep their business going. However, digital transformation that the country is supporting greatly towards the success of the concept to meet the country’s vision to be digitally transformed by the year 2030 on all levels.

Cover Photo Credit: Business vector created by katemangostar - www.freepik.com

 

 

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