It’s been over 2 weeks since President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster and announced a countrywide mandatory 21-day lockdown in an effort to contain the coronavirus and help stop the spread. The announcement from the president consequently changed the way we traditionally communicate and do business in South Africa (and internationally) and overnight, businesses have been challenged to think creatively and use this time to implement some remote working strategies in order to continue functioning during the lockdown. 

The current situation is not unique to South Africa, in fact, businesses all around the world are being forced to adapt and find a way to manage a completely remote workforce. With many owners being faced with challenges such as managing their employees from a distance via technology and making sure that they stay productive as well as maintain their various work responsibilities during this stressful time.

All have been called to stay home if they can, in an effort to flatten the curve and minimise the impact on the already strained healthcare system. But this does introduce some unprecedented difficulties for businesses as well as the economy as a whole, and since people can’t conduct business in person, they have had to adapt and embrace the use of technology along with flexible and remote working styles overnight in order to continue functioning. With people now working from home, this style of working may well influence the way people work in the future.

In order for working from home to be a success, it’s important that everyone maintains discipline and responsibility and becomes self-sufficient to stay abreast of what needs to be done on a day to day basis. Have a dedicated room or workspace where you can focus and use the time to be productive. Clear boundaries are needed and a routine must be maintained. Plan by making a list of the most important tasks that you need to complete for each day and make sure to use your time wisely to get through them. 

Concerned about a lack of productivity in your employees while working from home? No need to worry, studies have shown that remote workers are more likely to have greater productivity due to fewer interruptions and inefficient meetings. Your employees are also likely to be less stressed and produce better quality work because they don’t need to fret about traffic when travelling to and from work, which in addition, will save them time and money. Remote working also makes room for more work-life balance due to the flexibility it allows.

Some helpful tips to follow to while remote working

  • Remember to keep in contact with your staff and make an effort to check-in daily using video communication such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet
  • Show up on time for virtual meetings and maintain etiquette by making sure to mute yourself when someone else in your meeting is talking. 
  • Use Slack to stay reachable for chats throughout the day and remember to respond accordingly during working hours. 
  • And remember, communication can and will continue, thanks to technology and allows you to keep in contact with all your employees, just like if you were at the office.

When working from home, make sure your dedicated room or space for working is separate from your home or living space, as it’s quite easy to blur the two, and as a result, your brain never switches out of “work mode”. To help combat this, set clear times for when your workday starts and ends and most importantly, don’t forget to take breaks, burnout is a real thing. 

This work style that many have had to recently adopt during these unusual times encourages independence and allows for the development of skills such as self-motivation, self-discipline, focus, and communication through the use of technology. It also means less stress, more self-care and physical activity. The result, happier, balanced employees who are able to produce quality work. Employees who are healthier and happier also mean less sick days are taken, so it’s a win-win.

This then begs the question, could this be a glimpse into the future of how people will prefer to work? Well, as it stands, most employees do expect to work from home at least once or twice a week and according to Global Workplace Analytics, with 37% of remote employees willing to take a 10% pay cut in order to continue working from home. So it is definitely an increasingly popular trend and perhaps safe to say, one that the world will slowly start to welcome with open arms.