Skilled people armed with a laptop connected to the Internet can now start their own companies or work as freelancers. Hence working remotely has become a trend that is expected to grow in the future as the number of virtual opportunities increase.

Personally, I have worked in coffee shops, libraries and other places where I could find an internet connection. But I was missing a community where I could belong and connect with like minded young people. My search for an office came to an end when I discovered kLab, an innovation hub in Kigali that offers free office space and internet connection to young entrepreneurs.

As you enter the hub, you see young men and women concentrated in front of their laptops. When you approach them, one gets amazed to hear their individual stories. A number of them have now nurtured their ideas into start-ups that provide efficient solutions to the market. The hub's success stories have made headlines in the media and kLab has become a popular destination among high profile visitors to Rwanda.

In a period of one month, kLab successively hosted visitors such as Christine Lagarde, Managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Zhao Houlin the Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union and Japan International Cooperation Agency President Akihiko Tunaka.

These visitors had time to chat with young entrepreneurs who have launched software companies. The latter have created solutions for companies involved in distribution of goods, transport, and education among other sectors.

Christine Lagarde said that innovation technology projects like kLab are vital to Rwanda`s future development. JICA`s president noted that innovation can take place when young people are offered free and flexible workplaces to collaborate. Zhao Houlin also praised kLab achievements for creating an innovative environment for young entrepreneurs and boosting job creation.

The innovation lab is situated in the same building as Carnegie Mellon University. Young entrepreneurs have therefore taken advantage of its faculty members by involving them in the board of their companies.

Rwanda envisions being a service-based economy and has followed the suit of countries that are competing to become innovation hubs. 

In order to spur the spirit of innovation, remote workers should, in my view, be supported by decision makers by creating open spaces where they can test their ideas. Such an initiative can bolster collaboration and create employment. Nowadays, mindsets are shifting away from the primary view of an office, in a company building, to a virtual space that can be accessed from a laptop or Smartphone.

Technology has definitely led to creative destruction in the workplace. This shift from a physical office to a virtual one was made possible by the availability of laptops, mobile devices, and high speed wireless networks among others. These are tools young people are comfortable with especially when they are given the right skills in schools.

Are decision-makers around the world aware of this shift? The answer is yes but the problem is how they are adopting them to catch up with the rapidly changing workplace. Youth around the world are confronted by high rates of unemployment. I think one way to tackle it is for decision makers to invest in innovation hubs. At the end of the day, it looks like they will characterize the future of workplace.

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