The web site is now storing only essential cookies on your computer. If you don't allow cookies, you may not be able to use certain features of the web site including but not limited to: log in, buy products, see personalized content, switch between site cultures. It is recommended that you allow all cookies.

The Impact of Covid-19 on South Africa’s Remote Work Landscape

The Impact of Covid-19 on South Africa’s Remote Work Landscape

Ettiene Rossouw

Companies that can accommodate remote work (typically professional services) should carefully consider their return to office mandates. In the wake of surging cost increases brought on by hefty fuel prices—and a successful two-year track record—there’s a viable case for continuing remote work.
The Great Resignation
Remote work offers many advantages to business, a key one being retaining talent. Here in South Africa and as far as the United States, “back to the office or else” directives have incited “The Great Resignation.” This phenomenon is where employees opt to quit rather than return to the office.
This is particularly prevalent among highly skilled (and therefore sought-after) professionals who have the luxury to take their prospects elsewhere. The success of remote work during the pandemic has created a global marketplace. It is now common for corporates to seek talent and offer remote work (in other words, outsourcing) across borders. Skilled South Africans leap at the chance to earn in Euros or US Dollars without having to uproot their families.
Companies risk losing talent that is difficult to replace—meanwhile, the resources who can’t afford the luxury of resigning, trek begrudgingly to the office daily. An hour-long stint in rush hour traffic kills motivation fast.
The Highlighted Benefits of Remote Work
There are numerous benefits of remote work for employers and employees alike. In essence, they can be summated as:
  • Virtual meetings save employees fuel, wear and tear costs, and travel time.
  • Businesses save on certain variable costs such as electricity, sundries, and business travel.
  • Retain talent.
  • Increased employee and client satisfaction.
  • Safeguarding against Covid-19 health and safety concerns.

Is Office Work Off the Table?
Before abandoning your office space entirely, remember that balance is key. Despite the numerous benefits of remote work, one drawback is disconnection.
Face-to-face time among co-workers and managers is vital for cohesion and morale. Having all staff on-site at least once a week is valuable. It allows for regrouping, strategising and collaboration. It is also a practical way to reinforce company culture.
The good news is that it is what employees want too! Most employees are not anti-office, only anti-full-time-office. After successfully working from home for roughly two years, being forced to go back to the office full-time makes little sense. Research from the University of Chicago and ITAM recently found that workers whose jobs can be done at home only work 2.3 remotely.
Instead of looking at things as “all-or-nothing”, a hybrid remote working model offers the most business benefits by far.
In a study of 125 CEOs and decision-makers, 92% saw positive benefits of flexible working options, and 94% will continue working in a remote/hybrid way.
Making Remote Work, Work.
As with any business (or office) policy, the success of remote work lies in thought-out enforcement and skilful management.
The first step is making employees who work from home responsible for ensuring they are equipped to do so.

  • They should have a reliable internet connection with all the necessary failovers or power backups in place for business continuity.
  • Connectivity or data charges can reasonably offset fuel costs and wear and tear savings.
Managing expectations is a crucial next step.
Employers and employees must clearly understand and agree on the required outputs and KPIs. For example, both must take reasonable measures to avail themselves for virtual meetings. Implement classic time-management techniques to avoid the extremes of countless frivolous meetings or blanket declines. Designate one or two weekly meeting days, where staff can schedule appointments directly into your diary. The rest of the week is for projects.
Managers need to adjust the way they measure performance to accommodate hybrid work. It helps to think about targets or deliverables instead of a regimen 8-5 working hours. Drawing on an internal case study, we saw a tremendous boost in productivity after allowing staff to begin an hour earlier or later than legacy office hours.
Once the benefits were communicated, clients responded favourably to on-site interaction once a week. It turns out that our clients prefer the hybrid solution as well. This opens the doors of opportunity to expand globally with little friction. The most important thing is that clients receive service and we meet their needs.
Nurturing Company Culture in the New Normal
The final step is to uphold morale and company culture. Benefits alone are not enough to attract talent; culture is a key driver.
Find ways to reinforce your organisation’s ethos and values in all your engagement, and don’t underestimate the importance of regular team building and recognition days. Use our office facilities for training and workshops, upskilling employees while fostering cohesion among co-workers.
Workplace Communication is the Watershed
Occupied office chairs do not necessarily equate to greater output. Clear directives, access to resources, and effective communication do.
Expert Market found that 97% of employees say communication impacts their daily task efficacy. “When employees are offered better communication technology and skills, productivity can increase by up to 30%”.
Fostering communication and collaboration is the most critical component of work productivity, regardless of your workforce’s geographic location.
For more insight into viable business models and policies to save your company money, feel free to contact your local Moore firm here.